Letting Go Of

New York Times crossword April 22 / Constructed by Paula Gamache and Ed Stein

Well, I guess after last week’s awesome puzzle, this week’s crossword was bound to be a letdown. It was amusing, but generally meh. The key was to take the title literally; theme answers were common phrases that “let go of” the word “of.” In 23 Across, for instance, the clue “Diet?” yields BATTLE THE BULGE.

Others: LAND PLENTY (“Be very successful at fishing?” 31 Across), BOOK THE DEAD (“Do a clerk’s work at a morgue?” 37 Across), CAST THOUSANDS (“Throw large bank notes around?” 50 Across), MILK HUMAN KINDNESS (“Take advantage of good Samaritans?” 67 Across), DOCTOR LETTERS (“Forge some personal notes?” 86 Across), BEST FRIENDS (“Outdo one’s buddies?” 94 Across), POUND FLESH (“Be a sadistic masseuse?” 103 Across) and ORDER THE GARTER (“Send for a special bridal accessory?” 118 Across).

Doubled Up Dept.: “Cloudless” was used as a clue twice, to yield FAIR (75 Across) and CLEAR (98 Across). So was “Slowly,” for the musical terms ADAGIO (101 Down) and LARGO (104 Down). The puzzle also featured both HARHAR (“Phony laugh,” 8 Across) and TARTAR (“___ sauce,” 95 Down).

Cross Words Dept.: The abbreviation BRONC (“It may be broken on a ranch,” 81 Across) happened to cross with RONCO (“Veg-O-Matic maker,” 82 Down).

Greek Mythology Dept.: “Spiderwoman?” (1 Across) referred not to an obscure Marvel Comics character but to ARACHNE, the root of the word arachnid. I loved Greek myths as a kid; in this one, the goddess Athena was jealous of the weaving skills of an arrogant mortal named Arachne. So Athena decided Arachne could spend the rest of her life weaving — webs, that is — and turned her into a spider.

For Fun Dept.: “They’re mushed” are ESKIMO DOGS (44 Down). “#2 in a prosecutor’s off.” is ASST DA (102 Across). And in perhaps a nice coincidence with the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, “Faddish 1970s footwear” are EARTH SHOES (39 Down). Have to admit I couldn’t mentally picture them — I was young in the ’70s — but here’s what they’ve morphed into today. (UPDATE: This post has been corrected to reflect that it’s the 42nd, not 40th, anniversary of Earth Day.)

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