Leading Articles

New York Times, Nov. 7

It’s another week of double entendres in the NYT crossword. Today’s puzzle by constructor Will Nediger takes common two-word phrases and turns them into three-word phrases by separating out the “leading article” — the letter “A.”

Thus “Trying to stay awake?” is RESISTING A REST (22 Across); “Pinned down?” is UNDER A TACK (36 Across); “Really enjoy going to carnivals?” is LOVE A FAIR (72 Across); “Straddling one’s opponent?” is UPON (or UP ON) A RIVAL (106 Across); “Frisking Dracula?” is CHECKING A COUNT (123 Across); “Mechanic’s task?” is EVENING A TIRE (16 Down); and “What the dissatisfied female giftee might do after Christmas?” is RETURN A DRESS (64 Down). The central down entry that crossed with LOVE A FAIR looked like it was going to be part of the theme, but alas was just a tease: GOOD AS NEW (“Handyman’s exclamation,” 45 Down).

I have to say I’m not crazy about this puzzle’s title. At work, we might say something was the “lead article” (or “lede article,” if you want to get technical) when talking about a front-page newspaper story. But “leading article”? Not so much. Maybe Will Shortz should have done something with the fact that each theme entry also happened to drop a doubled letter … maybe “Drop Drill”? Or would only people from California get that one? (That was what the earthquake drills were called at school when I was growing up in L.A.)

Strange But True Dept.: “Unpopular baby name” is ADOLF (108 Down). My colleagues in New Jersey have been following the saga of one boy who indeed was named Adolf … Adolf Hitler Campbell.

Myth of Mythology Dept.: I love Greek mythology — just love it. Devoured it in junior high school English class. But I have yet to hear anyone in casual conversation call a handsome guy as an ADONIS (“Good-looker,” 48 Down). That’s the real myth — that people still use that reference.

Kojak Dept.: “Oscar-nominated actor with the given name Aristotelis” is SAVALAS (1 Across), as in “Kojak” star Telly Savalas. Though I knew Savalas must have had work before “Kojak,” I never knew he received an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor in 1962’s “Birdman of Alcatraz.” He lost to Ed Begley for “Sweet Bird of Youth.”

How Many Reeves Are There In Show Biz? Dept.: I knew about the bizarre name connection between “Superman” stars George Reeves and Christopher Reeve, but who knew there was another hero-actor in the club? “Steve who played the title role of Hercules in a 1959 film” is also REEVES (21 Across). And he was the highest paid actor in Europe at one point, if you believe Wikipedia. He also has his own fan club.

Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy.

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