Two-For-One Special

New York Times crossword March 25 / Constructed by Patrick Berry

Today’s puzzle was an odd one. And not just because I ended up doing it in red ink with a Darth Maul pen.

The theme by veteran constructor Patrick Berry involves letter-play that’s a little esoteric. Basically, you take the first word in each two-word answer — a word that contains two of the same letter — and double a different letter to get the second word. So a “Soft yet easily breakable ‘Star Trek’ creature?” is a BRITTLE TRIBBLE (50 Across).

Tribbles weren't really brittle in this famous 'Star Trek' episode.

To make it a little more confusing, sometimes the doubled letters did not appear together in the answer, as in DOMED MODEM (“Hemispherical computer add-on?” 66 Across) and RODEO ORDER (“‘Ride ’em cowboy!,’ e.g.?” 68 Across). Sorry if that’s not clear. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one having trouble articulating this “2-for-1” theme.

Others: TRIVIAL TRAVAIL (“Ordeal that’s no big deal?” 23 Across); BARREN BANNER (“Large cloth sign with nothing on it?” 27 Across); MATTEL MALLET (“Toy hammer?” 29 Across); SMALLER SLAMMER (“Big house that’s not as big?” 79 Across); ETHANE ATHENA (“Goddess of gas?” 99 Across); CORRAL COLLAR (“Get part of one’s shirt under control?” 102 Across); and PURSUES PERSEUS (“What the Gorgon Stheno does in Greek myth?” 108 Across).

When You Gotta Go Dept.: “Army heads” are LATRINES (33 Down). “Can of Newcastle” is LOO (80 Down).

English Lit Dept.: Shakespeare figures twice in this puzzle — “King of Naples in ‘The Tempest’” is ALONSO (16 Down), while “‘I hate the Moor’ speaker” is IAGO (84 Across), from “Othello.” And Charles Dickens — whose bicentennial occurred last month — is the author behind ROSA (“___ Bud, schoolgirl in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’,” 82 Down). It was his last novel, left unfinished at his death.

I should have realized my free Darth Maul pen would write in red ink.

Silver Screen Dept.: “Hitchcock thriller set in Brazil” is NOTORIOUS (19 Across). “Phoebe of ‘Drop Dead Fred’” is CATES (49 Down). “What only one Best Picture winner has had” is an X RATING (73 Across), which of course refers to the Dustin Hoffman-Jon Voight movie “Midnight Cowboy.” And I’m going to throw in COMA (“Unresponsive state,” 9 Across) to this department, too, since we watched the depressing “The Descendants” at home last night.

Red Ink Dept.: I got a Darth Maul pen in my Cheerios as part of a tie-in to celebrate the apparent re-release of “Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace,” this time in 3D. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a traditional blue- or black ballpoint until I started the puzzle, but I stuck with it anyway. Now looking at the grid is kind of hard on my eyes. Lesson learned.

Questions or comments? Leave them here, visit my Facebook page or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments