Getting in Shape

New York Times crossword Oct. 16 / Constructed by Joel Fagliano

Phew! Does solving a puzzle titled “Getting in Shape” mean I don’t have to go to the gym? Because I think my brain got a pretty good workout with constructor Joel Fagliano’s very clever visual theme. (It also made me wonder how I could have sucked so badly at geometry in junior high.)

Today’s grid included what initially appeared to be several loose groups of shaded squares. But as I started solving, it became clear that letters linked the shaded squares to form geometric rebuses (rebi?). In the lower left corner, for example, the shaded squares spelled out NECKLACE in the shape of a diamond. Thus 109 Across (“See shaded letters intersected by this answer”) is DIAMOND NECKLACE.

The shaded squares spell out rebuses related to the shapes they form.

Others (which all shared the clue above): ARCTIC CIRCLE (3Down); OVAL OFFICE (32 Down); SQUARE INCH (50 Down); LOVE TRIANGLE (62 Down); and the granddaddy of them all, ARTIFICIAL HEART (24 Across).

Major League Dept.: Football fans would know that the “Texans’ org.” is NFL (82 Across), where players score TDS (“82-Across stats,” 87 Across). Baseball fans should get PNC for 89 Down (“___ Park, home for the Pittsburgh Pirates”) and NL EAST for “Phillies div.” (118 Across), which they’ve won for five years straight, I might add. If only they could win the big one as often.

To Put It Another Way Dept.: “I kid you not!” is TRUE FACT! (20 Across); “Unfortunately, that’s the case” is AFRAID SO (53 Across); “Hurry!” is COME QUICK! (55 Across); “Easy as pie” is IT’S A CINCH (76 Across); “I didn’t mean to do that!” is OH, NO! (75 Down); and “I’m less than impressed” is MEH (67 Down).

Labyrinth Dept.: “Well-known maze traveler” is PAC-MAN (13 Across), and GAME OVER is the “Message seen after 13-Across dies” (116 Across). Speaking of mazes, did you see the story about the family that called 911 last week after getting lost in a corn maze near Boston?

Remembering Steve Jobs Dept.: “Apple debut of 1998” is I-MAC (66 Down). Reports say Apple is holding a memorial service for him today at Stanford. NYT puzzle editor Will Shortz and crossword constructor Kevin Der honored him with a Jobs-themed puzzle just two days after he died.

Cinema Paradiso Dept.: “He played the candidate in ‘The Candidate,’ 1972″ is REDFORD (37 Down); “Harvey of ‘Reservoir Dogs’” is KEITEL (9 Down); “‘Do the Right Thing’ pizzeria owner” is SAL (78 Down); “1969 film with an exclamation point in its title” is CHE; and a “1977 thriller set at sea” is ORCA (99 Across).

On the Shelves Dept.: “‘Things Fall Apart’ author Chinua ___” is ACHEBE (22 Across); “‘Going Rogue’ author” is Sarah PALIN (13 Down); and “Mouse in a classic Daniel Keyes book” is ALGERNON (68 Down).

National Parks Dept.: “Geological feature on a Utah license plate” is an ARCH (36 Across). That is hard-earned knowledge from a long-ago family vacation to Arches National Park during one very hot July.

Motor Trend Dept.: “Palindromic vehicle” is a RACE CAR (85 Across) while a “Mazda model” is a MIATA (67 Across).

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