New York Times, July 11
Where is that wascally wabbit?
This puzzle either harkens back to your childhood or to that Geico commercial featuring the “r”-challenged hunter of Bugs Bunny. The theme answers take common phrases and twist them by turning a key “r” sound into a “w” — just as Elmer Fudd would do. So 23 Across, “Part of a biblical warning against growing onions?” is SO SHALL YE WEEP (instead of REAP).
Other Fuddisms: “Some locker room tomfoolery?” is TOWEL WHACKS (30 Across); “Bio for a Looney Tunes coyote?” is THE LIFE OF WILE E. (40 Across; remember all those Acme boxes addressed to “Wile E. Coyote”?); “Pretty fat, actually?” is THIN AS A WHALE (68 Across); “React to a bitter mouthwash?” is GARGLE AND WINCE (80 Across); “Sloven in the coven?” is a FILTHY WITCH (94 Across); and “Advice to someone going to the Egg-Beaters’ Convention?” is TAKE A BIG WHISK (102 Across).
The only one I didn’t understand is NADER’S WADERS (56 Across, “Politico Ralph’s fishing gear?”). Logic told me the plain English phrase would be “Nader’s Raiders,” but it wasn’t anything I’d ever heard. Wikipedia says that’s what Nader’s young lawyer-assistants were called. Huh.
Another Childhood Reference Dept.: I thought I was the only one on the planet who knew that “Snoopy’s hip alter ego” is JOE COOL (16 Down), not the WWII Flying Ace. But I’m going to take issue with its crossing answer, JOB JAR (“Container holding slips of papers with tasks written on them,” 13 Across). What? What planet is that used on? Ever heard of a to-do list?
Coming Home Dept.: 57 Down (“‘Prove it!'”) made me smile: SHOW ME. The Show-Me State is Missouri, where my husband has spent the past year teaching journalism at the flagship state university campus in Columbia. He is coming home, for good, next weekend. Hooray!!!!!
Philly Shout-Out Dept: 64 Down (“So called ‘Giant Brain’ of 1946”) is ENIAC, the computer invented here at the University of Pennsylvania. (That’s Penn, not Penn State.)
I Think, Therefore I Err Dept.: I first entered SUM as the answer to “Cartesian conclusion” (49 Across), as in Rene Descartes famous phrase, “Cogito Ergo Sum” (“I think, therefore I am”). I was one-third right: the answer was I AM. Truth be told, I’m not that much of a Latin or philosophy geek, but I recently wrote a story on a stolen Descartes letter that gave me more of a background on the Frenchman than I ever had before.
Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy.