The End Is In Sight

New York Times crossword July 17 / Constructed by Daniel A. Finan

In today’s puzzle, the end is not only in sight but in sound. The crossword theme is another aural gem, where circled letters provide “the end” of common phrases that otherwise appear to stop short. “Parting words from the busy type” (25 Across) are PLACES TO GO, PEOPLE TO … ? The answer appears to be missing the word SEE — but it’s actually there, represented aurally in PLACES by the letter C, which is circled in the grid. (Since I can’t draw a circle, I’ve underlined the circled letters in bold.)

Constructor Daniel A. Finan gets even craftier by doubling a few circled letters, giving us THE WHITES OF THEIR (EYES), for “End of a command at the Battle of Bunker Hill,” 66 Across. Others: THE PRINCESS AND THE (PEA), for “Hans Christian Andersen story,” 36 Across; WITH RELATIVE (EASE), “Hardly breaking a sweat,” 53 Across; BEST OF LUCK TO (YOU), “‘Godspeed!'” 82 Across; HEALTHY, WEALTHY AND (WISE), “End of a Benjamin Franklin aphorism,” 93 Across; and WHERE THE WILD THINGS (ARE), “2009 fantasy film based on a best-selling book,” 111 Across.

It wouldn’t be surprising (and actually might even be expected) for the circled letters to spell a hidden message, as they did last week. But I couldn’t make heads or tales of CPEEIIUYYR, rearranged or otherwise.

Holy Name Dept.: “Jesus, to Christians,” is a SHEPHERD (8 Down), while “Jesus, for one” (with an accent over the “u” that I can’t replicate) is an ALOU (12 Down), as in a member of the baseball family.

Funny Stuff Dept.: The puzzle references both BORAT (“2006 comedy title character from western 2-Down,” 96 Down) and the underappreciated, onetime basic cable staple THE REF (“1994 Denis Leary/Kevin Spacey flick,” 56 Down). Borat, of course, is from western ASIA (2 Down), specifically Kazakhstan.

Mexican Vacation Dept.: “Symbol of strength, to the Maya” is the JAGUAR (69 Across), which I learned while visiting the ruins of Chichen Itza during our honeymoon near Cancun. Unfortunately, the famous jaguar throne was off limits.

Ready To Rumble Dept.: Hector CAMACHO (“1980s lightweight boxing champ,” 38 Down) reminded me that we recently watched “The Fighter,” a film based on the true story of “Irish” Micky Ward. Terrific acting by Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and Oscar-winning Christian Bale, but the thin plot was strangely uncompelling.

Who Knew? Dept.: “Critter with foot-long teeth” is a HIPPO (46 Across), whose home is abbreviated AFR (63 Down). How that creature could have 12-inch-long teeth is beyond me. Anyway, I also didn’t know that HARVARD was the “Granter of an honorary degree to George Washington in 1776” (73 Across).

Questions or comments? Leave them here, visit my Facebook page or TWEET (“Modern update,” 90 Down) me @crosswordkathy.

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