Having Aspirations

New York Times, Nov. 21

There are aspirations, as in hopes and dreams, and then there are aspirations, as in the sound the letter H makes. You will not be surprised to learn that today’s crossword puzzle –“Having Aspirations” — does not offer any insight into achieving lifelong goals. It does, however, offer you six extra Hs that, when inserted into several common phrases, will give them new meanings entirely.

Perhaps the funniest: REAL MEN DON’T HEAT QUICHE (“Macho guys like their pie cold?” 26 Across), based on the 1982 best-seller that apparently now can be had for as little as 2 cents on Amazon.

Others: “Bad actor’s philosophy?” is I THINK THEREFORE I HAM (41 Across); “Concerns of middle-aged guys in lower Louisiana?” is DELTA HAIRLINES (63 Across); “Lengthy military sign-up?” is a SEVEN-YEAR HITCH (73 Across); “Put the dentures aside while gardening?” is SET ONE’S TEETH ON HEDGE (92 Across); and “Starboard food fish?” is HERRING ON THE RIGHT SIDE (108 Across).

“Delta hairlines” was pretty cute; I wonder if there was some celebrity marriage that could have qualified as a clue for “seven-year hitch.” But those last two phrases (“teeth” and “herring”) seem to be a bit dated; the second one I’m not even sure I know. “Erring on the side of caution,” yes, but not “erring on the right side.” Anyone?

Eyebrow Raising Dept.: “Out of one’s mind, in a way, with ‘up'” is COKED (5 Down). I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone described as “coked up” unless they were, in fact, coked up. Surprised — but not passing judgment — that Will included this drug reference.

Stressing Out Dept.: Quite a bit of polite angst in this puzzle: DEAR ME (“‘Alas,'” 63 Down) and OH ME (“[sigh],” 123 Across).

Geographic Technicality Dept.: Is ST. PETER’S really a “Roman square” (88 Down)? Or is it a Vatican (City) Square?

Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy.

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