New York Times crossword July 31 / Constructed by Pamela Klawitter
Wow, has Will Shortz caught the Google Plus bug? Because this is the fourth puzzle this month with circles in it.
Today’s self-referential grid uses pairs of circled letters to create several rebusus (rebi?). When linked, the pairs form a single word. But they are separated (hence the title) by a black square or two, visually illustrating a common phrase associated with the word.
For example, HIGH (“Daily weather datum,” 76 Down) and WAY (“Mode,” 109 Down) are divided by a couple of black squares, making them the depiction of a DIVIDED HIGHWAY (“See circled letters in 76-/109-Down,” 27 Across). Likewise, WIN (“When repeated, advantageous to both sides,” 1 Across) and DOW (from DOWNS, “71 Answers in this puzzle,” 4 Across) have a pair of black squares between them, making a CRACKED WINDOW (14 Down).
Other separations: PRO (“Master,” 12 Down) and MISE (from MISER, “Tightfisted sort,” 35 Down) make a BROKEN PROMISE (56 Down); BAN (“The U.N.’s ___ Ki-Moon,” 39 Down) and ANA (from ANATOLE, “France from France,” 60 Down) make a BANANA SPLIT (88 Across); SKU (“Merchandise ID,” 17 Down) and LL (from LLDS, “Honorary law degs.,” 43 Down) make a FRACTURED SKULL (103 Across); FALL (from OF ALL, “Best ___,” 119 Across) and EN (from ENDER, “Rear’s rear?” 120 Across) make for FALLEN APART (44 Across); and TO (from MOTTO, “‘Think’ or ‘Think different,'” 116 Across) and RN (from RNAS, “They’re stranded, briefly,” 117 Across) make for TORN ASUNDER (64 Across).
Rotten Tomatoes Dept.: Everyone knows about the bomb GIGLI (“2003 Affleck/Lopez flick,” 79 Down), but “All About Steve” came and went so quickly that I needed crossing answers to help me get STEVE (“Title character in a 2009 Sandra Bullock crossword film,” 32 Across).
Seriously? Dept.: I thought that BOATEL (“Offshore accommodations,” 93 Across) was an illegitimate, made-up pun on “hotel” until I found it on dictionary.com. (It’s still a made-up pun, IMHO.)
Singer/Sewing Dept.: For the longest time, ETUI was always clued as a place for sewers to keep needles. Apparently its use has been updated to include “French CD holder” (94 Across). (Although who keeps CDs anymore? The same people who sew, I guess.)
Exploring Surnames Dept.: I’m familiar with “DORA the Explorer” as the title of a kids TV show — and I think I’d even recognize her if I saw her on a lunchbox — but I had no idea she had a last name. (“___ Marquez, Nickelodeon cartoon girl,” 10 Down.)
Terms of Endearment Dept.: The grid features consecutive “Sweetheart” clues: LASS (48 Across) and DOLL (50 Across).