Yankee Doodle Dandies

New York Times crossword July 1 / Constructed by Dan Schoenholz

It’s almost Independence Day. How can I tell? By the obscene temperature outside. By last night’s fireworks along the Delaware River for Philly’s annual “Welcome America” festival. By the hundreds of protesters massing downtown for a national gathering of the Occupy movement. And by the theme of today’s crossword puzzle.

The self-referential grid honors a few of those “Yankee Doodle Dandies” who were BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY (65 Across): CALVIN COOLIDGE (“President who was 65-Across [1872],” 28 Across), MALIA OBAMA (“Presidential daughter who was 65-Across [1998],” 39 Across), NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (“Novelist who was 65-Across [1804],” 45 Across), GEORGE STEINBRENNER (“Team owner who was 65-Across [1930],” 83 Across), LIONEL TRILLING (“Literary critic who was 65-Across [1905],” 107 Across) and ANN LANDERS (“Columnist who was 65-Across [1918],” 95 Across).

Twins, Part 1 Dept.: Another columnist born on July 4th, of course, is Landers’ twin sister, Abigail Van Buren — better known as “Dear Abby.” Both made their (pen) names offering advice to newspaper readers across the country, but their competing columns also led the sisters to feud. Here’s more about them.

Twins, Part 2 Dept.: A pair of almost-doubled clues is appropriate for the brutal weather hanging over much of the country right now, especially out West and in the mid-Atlantic states. “What a thermometer measures” is HEAT (49 Down), while “What a thermometer may measure” is FEVER (70 Down).

Twins, Part 3 Dept.: There were also two shoe-related clues: “Some slippers” are MULES (44 Across), while “Attire usually worn with slippers” is a TUTU (101 Across) — though I can guarantee the slippers in that case aren’t mules.

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Mint products” are CENTS (81 Down). The Philadelphia mint just announced it’s opening a new public tour of the building on July 3 — the first update since 1969.

Say What? Dept.: “Wannabe surfers” are apparently HODADS (8 Down), a term I’ve never heard in my life. And a what is a “Clayey deposit” (15 Down)? Crossing words gave me MARL, another word I don’t know. But even more bizarre was the word “clayey.” As in clay-like? Clay-ish? Or having a lot of clay? I couldn’t believe that was a word, but Dictionary.com says it is. Definitely going to remember that one for Words With Friends.

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