New York Times crossword Feb. 13 / Constructed by Ian Livengood
Sorry for the late post. It was one of those rare Sundays when I had to work, but at least it was a fun story.
A day ahead of Valentine’s Day, Philly’s mayor married a couple on the subway as it passed a bunch of love-themed rooftop murals. (At left is a photo I took with my iPhone while I was jostling for space and simultaneously trying to take notes; you can read my story here.)
So that’s why it’s now 9:30 p.m. and I’m just starting my post. Luckily, it didn’t take me too long to finish the puzzle; I had my “aha!” moment right after solving my first theme clue: “Area banning pub regulars?” is a NO BAR-FLY ZONE (26 Across). That’s what made me realize the title “Bargaining” needed to be taken literally: Common phrases were “gaining” the word BAR.
Others: “‘Should I say “Come here often?” or “Hey, babe!”‘?” is WHAT’S MY BAR LINE (22 Across); “Lines on a Dan Brown best seller?” is THE DA VINCI BAR CODE (42 Across); “E.T.’s ability to use the lower part of a keyboard?” is ALIEN SPACEBAR CRAFT (53 Across); “Where dimwitted people pay to drink?” is CASH BAR FOR CLUNKERS (75 Across); “Like a former 97-pound weakling?” is SAVED BY THE BARBELL (90 Across); “Dramatic production about Ivory or Dial?” is a SOAP BAR OPERA (103 Across); and “Certain cases of the munchies?” are MARS BAR ATTACKS (114 Across).
Full Names Dept.: The puzzle managed to fit in both AL GORE (“Author of the 2009 book subtitled ‘A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis,'” 119 Across) and AXL ROSE (“‘Welcome to the Jungle’ rocker,” 71 Across). The latter might also have been clued as “Original singer of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,'” considering the cover that Fergie and Slash did at the Super Bowl last weekend.
Philly Trivia Dept.: “Actor Penn of ‘Van Wilder'” is KAL (33 Across). Kal Penn (born Kalpen Modi) is better known as Kumar in the Harold & Kumar movies and the character on “House” who committed suicide a few seasons ago. He actually taught at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania in Philly. (Incidentally, that would be also be Penn — and *not* Penn State.) He later took a job as a White House liaison.
Mighter Than The Sword Dept.: Two other “pen” references were PEN NAME (“George Orwell, e.g.,” 16 Down) and STATE PEN (“Attica, e.g., informally,” 3 Down). And speaking of swords, a “Buffalo N.H.L.’er” is a SABRE (101 Down). It’s also the company that bought Dunder Mifflin on “The Office.”