That’s Disgusting!

New York Times crossword Sept. 4 / Constructed by Dana Delany and Matt Ginsberg

Ew! That was my first instinct upon seeing the “disgusting” title of today’s puzzle. I figured the theme would tweak common phrases by inserting the letters EW. But that idea was nixed when I ended up solving 6 Down (“Ick!”) as EEW … and I soon came to realize that “Ick!” — actually IC — is the trick. The theme answers are common phrases with the addition of the letters IC: “Superman’s attire, e.g.?” is a CLASSIC ACTION SUIT (29 Across).

Others: “Farm pails?” are RUSTIC BUCKETS (40 Across); “Vacation spot that’s crazily busy?” is THE ISLE OF MANIC (3 Down); “Prank involving a hammer and nails?” is a CARPENTER ANTIC (51 Down); “Something talked about on ‘Today’?” is TOPIC OF THE MORNING.

Some answers were phonetic:  “Heads-up in Ireland?” is a GAELIC WARNING (22 Across), for “gale warning”; “Fancy garb for Caesar?” is a FINE TUNIC (70 Across), for “fine tune”; “‘I feel the earth move under my feet,’ e.g.?” is a KING LYRIC (64 Across), for singer Carole King and “King Lear”; “Extremely occult?” is GREATLY MYSTIC (111 Across), for “greatly missed”; and “Antisthenes, notably?” is the ORIGINAL CYNIC (83 Across), for Original Sin. Confession: I solved that last one despite never having heard of Antisthenes, so I looked him up.

Continuing the Theme Dept: “Bitter, in a way” is TANNIC (41 Down) while “Suffix with problem” is ATIC (27 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Paris’s Musee ___” (67 Across) is RODIN. It so happens we have our very own Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. The building was a gift to the city from movie theater magnate Jules Mastbaum, who spent three years amassing the largest collection of Rodin’s works outside Paris, according to the museum’s website. Turns out to be a timely reference, as apparently the museum is closing for renovations on Tuesday and won’t reopen until late spring 2012.

Philly-Area Shout-Out Dept.: “What Bryn Mawr College is not” _ COED (43 Down).

Now I Get It Dept.: “Beverage whose logo was once the bottom half of woman’s legs” (19 Across) is NEHI, a drink I have often entered into crossword grids despite never having tried it (and not knowing how to pronounce it). The logo would have given me a phonetic hint (“knee high”).

Long and Short of It Dept.: The clue-to-answer character ratio is way off in 105 Across. “Surrealist who avoided the draft by writing the day’s date in every space on his induction paperwork” is ARP. You can read a bit more about the artist here.

Star Power Dept.: Actress Dana Delany is the co-constructor of today’s puzzle. Will Shortz gave a hint about that a couple of weeks ago.

And holy crap, how did it get to be September already?

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