New York Times crossword Feb. 20 / Constructed by Elizabeth C. Gorski

Wow, this one took me forever to get. I thought “Wunderbar!” was going to be another rebus puzzle, one that squeezed the word BAR into a single square (or used a long dash as a symbol for a bar). But after realizing that didn’t quite work — there was always one extra letter to squeeze in — I looked at the three black spaces that adjoined each of these answer. Actual “bars” had been scattered throughout the puzzle.

The BAR in front of 26 Across (“Band whose 1998 song ‘One Week’ was #1 for one week”) provides the first three letters in (BAR)ENAKED LADIES. Likewise, the BAR in front of 46 Across (“Pear variety”) contains the first three letters in (BAR)TLETT; and the BAR at the end of 48 Across (“Milky Way, for one”) provides the last word in the answer CHOCOLATE (BAR).

Others: “Onetime head of the Medellin drug cartel” (66 Across) is PABLO ESCO(BAR); that BAR is reused as the lead-in to (BAR)BIE AND KEN (“Mattel announced their breakup in 2004,” 69 Across). A “Classic western slugfest” is a (BAR)ROOM BRAWL (84 Across); “It’s just below a B” is a SPACE(BAR) (87 Across); and “Plan on ordering a drink, say” is BELLY UP TO THE (BAR) (109 Across).

There were Down BARs, too. The BAR above 27 Down (“Sharply reprimanded”) yields (BAR)KED AT; above 28 Down (“Just”), it forms (BAR)ELY. Using the BAR below 99 Down (“Cravat holder”) gives you TIE (BAR); below 88 Down (“Lounge in many a hotel”), it yields PIANO (BAR).

Drinking Problem (?) Dept.: It was hard not to notice that this was the second “bar” theme in as many weeks. Last week’s puzzle (“Bargaining”) added the word BAR to common phrases.

Bienvenida Home Dept.: A shout-out to my dear friend Hilary, who left her cozy home in Barcelona to come visit The City of Brotherly Love. For her, a fluent Spanish speaker and doctoral candidate in Spanish literature, I will point out the use of PESETA (“Currency replaced by the Euro,” 124 Across) and GOL (“Football score abroad,” 75 Down). Although we all know that last word is really spelled GOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL!

Fun Words Dept.: Don’t think I have ever had any reason, crossword-related or not, to spell BALALAIKAS (“Three-stringed instruments,” 100 Across). And the “Noted parent in the tabloids” is OCTOMOM (21 Across).

Stumped Me Dept.: Could not get the first letter of 39 Across/Down (“Reduced amount?” and “Jails, in British slang,” respectively). Anyone?

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5 thoughts on “Wunderbar!”

  1. Kathy:
    What a marvelous job you and your imagination do to come up with solutions to weekly NYT
    My Oxford dictionary lists GAOL,JAIL
    I’m a little late with info which you’ve probably gotten by now.

  2. Stumped Me Dept.: Could not get the first letter of 39 Across/Down (“Reduced amount?” and “Jails, in British slang,” respectively). Anyone?

    Reduced amount = QTY, as in the reduced/abbreviation for quantity

  3. @Maggie Thank you for the kind words! I’m familiar with the old-fashioned GAOL, but that didn’t seem to cross correctly. Two other commenters have written to tell me the missing letter is a Q.

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