Love Story

New York Times crossword March 4 / Constructed by David J. Kahn

Greetings from Clearwater Beach, Fla.!

We couldn’t wait for the Phillies home opener next month, so we’re here this week for a couple of spring training games. It’s very windy and cool today — not a beach day — so we did a recon drive by Bright House Field to see where we’ll be watching the Phils take on the Yankees tomorrow.

Sunset on Clearwater Beach, Fla. Photo by Jim MacMillan.

In fact, today’s puzzle had all kinds of game-related terminology, starting with 1 Down, “Single, say” – BASE HIT. Just south of Clearwater is the “St. Pete stadium, with ‘the'” – TROP (75 Across), short for Tropicana Field, where the Tampa Bay Rays play. And there are three “Game cry” clues: BOO! (86 Across), I WON! (108 Down) and the card-related GIN! (112 Down).

Now back to less interesting topics, like today’s theme. “Love Story” is a lame running joke through the puzzle – the worst kind of theme, in my humble opinion. (But I guess I shouldn’t complain until I can build a Sunday-size grid of my own, right?) The joke starts with a set up at 23 Down, where “An elderly woman was having dinner with her husband and was …” SIPPING ON A GLASS OF WINE. “She said ‘After all these years …'” I’M STILL CRAZY ABOUT YOU (38 Across). “Then she remarked …” I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU (51 Across). “Her husband asked …” DO YOU REALLY MEAN THAT? (78 Across). “Then he asked, ‘Or …” IS THAT THE WINE TALKING? (95 Across). “The woman replied …” IT’S ME TALKING TO THE WINE (109 Across). Rim shot, please.

Speaking of Love Dept.: The grid also featured the answer I DO, which interestingly was clued as “Courtroom words” (14 Down) instead of “Altar words,” which are SWORN (“Like 14-Down,” 90 Down) and would have matched the “Love Story” theme. And those who solve the puzzle in the actual NYT magazine may have noticed that the page immediately after the grid is a photo essay on 1950s weddings in London. I’m guessing Will Shortz didn’t know that ahead of time, but it’s a serendipitous juxtaposition.

Fooled Ya Dept.: “Cairo’s river” is not the Nile but the OHIO (59 Down). They mean Cairo, Ill., pronounced KAY-roh.

Say What? Dept.: Kudos to anyone who got the answer for “Sublime, in hip-hop slang” (7 Across). I couldn’t get the last letter to mesh with the answer for 9 Down (“Grazing ground”).

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Paul Loving on my Facebook page for helping me out with the above problem. Turns out the first theme phrase is SIPPING ON A GLASS OF WINE, not SIPPING HER GLASS OF WINE. (My post has been corrected to reflect that.) That helps everything else fall into place. You can read Paul’s post here.

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