New York Times crossword May 6 / Constructed by Alex Vratsanos
When I was in junior high, kids who wanted an easy “A” for an elective worked in the A-V department. It stood for audio-visual, and what it meant was that you got to go around to various classes to run filmstrips (remember those?) and occasionally small-scale movie projectors.
In today’s puzzle, the “A-V” in the title stands for constructor Alex Vratsanos and several other phrases that start with those letters — like AUXILIARY VERB (“Have, say,” 23 Across) and ACTIVE VOLCANOES (“They’re likely to blow,” 38 Across).
Others: AT VARIANCE (“Not seeing eye to eye,” 65 Across), ARTICLE VII (“End of the main part of the Constitution,” 68 Across), ALESSANDRO VOLTA (“Electrical pioneer,” 89 Across), AFRICAN VIOLET (“Common household plant with colorful blooms,” 114 Across), ALOE VERAS (“Some succulents,” 46 Down) and AQUA VITAE (“Brandy, for one,” 50 Down).
A-V P.S. Dept.: “Sailor’s cry” is AVAST (65 Down).
Seriously? Dept.: “Store, as corn” is ENSILE (119 Across), a bizarre verb that I can only guess stems from the noun “silo” but sounds pretty made-up to me.
Doubled-Up Dept.: “Bit of a jam” is a twice-used clue that yields SNARL (73 Across) and SNAG (98 Across).
Bad Example Dept.: “Cancun, por ejemplo” is ISLA (76 Down), the Spanish word for “island.” I would argue the narrow strip of land that comprises that city’s main hotel zone is more peninsula than island; “Cozumel, por ejemplo” — an island off the coast of Cancun — would have been a better clue.
Run For The Roses Dept.: “Wager” is PUT (15 Down), and a lot of people put money on Bodemeister, yesterday’s Kentucky Derby favorite who ended up second to I’ll Have Another. Philly-area horse Union Rags — owned by Phyllis Wyeth, wife of painter Jamie Wyeth, of the local art dynasty — came in a distant seventh.
Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Get-rich-quick scheme?” is LOTTO (78 Across), a painful reminder that a winning Powerball ticket worth about $172 million was sold just a few blocks from my house on April 25. The jackpot went to 48 Philly transit workers, from newbies to some who have worked at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for more than 40 years.