Put A Lid In It

New York Times crossword Aug. 26 / Constructed by Amanda Yesnowitz and Doug Peterson

There was a lot of talking going on in this crossword — chatting, to be specific — so it’s good that Will Shortz tried to put a lid on it. Oops, I mean in it.

“Lid,” of course, is slang for “hat” — something I learned from the baseball cap store at the mall. The theme answers in today’s puzzle all contain the letters HAT, which are entered into a single square. A literal hint could be found at 110 Down: “Storage item … or one of six in this puzzle?” which yields (HAT) BOX.

Today’s puzzle scattered “HAT”s throughout the grid.

That answer crossed with ALL’S WELL T(HAT) ENDS WELL (“Source of the line ‘They say miracles are past,'” 107 Across). Others: TO CATC(H A T)HIEF (“1955 Grant/Kelly thriller,” 74 Across), which crosses with I (HAT)E YOU (“Mock response to a friend who pulls a practical joke,” 71 Down). And HORTON (HAT)CHES THE EGG (“Source material for Broadway’s ‘Seussical,’” 43 Across) crosses with (HAT)ARI (“1962 John Wayne film,” 45 Down), which I’ve never heard of.

Here’s where the chatting took place: LADY C(HAT)TERLY’S LOVER (“Banned book of 1928,” 25 Across), C(HAT)TANOOGA CHOO CHOO (“World’s first certified gold record, 1942,” 88 across) and C(HAT)TY CATHY (“Talking doll that debuted in 1960,” 53 Down). They crossed with, respectively, AR(HAT)S (“Nirvana achievers,” 18 Down), MA(HAT)MA GANDHI (“Time’s 1930 Man of the Year,” 59 Across) and T(HAT)CH (“Hut cover,” 84 Down). I’d never heard of “arhats.”

Not a bad puzzle, although it struck me that most of the theme clues referenced years that predate my birth (and I’m Generation X). Wonder if there were more modern HATs to be had? It also would have been better if my artistic skills were such that I could actually draw hats instead of just writing the letters.

I didn’t know puzzle-making (solving?) could be so lucrative.

Next Up Dept.: Lucky me, I also get Merl Reagle’s crosswords on Sunday in my hometown Philadelphia Inquirer. It certainly looks intriguing, if not expensive, with all the $ signs in the grid.

I’ll try to post something on that puzzle later in the week.

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

‘Oh, Really?’

New York Times crossword Aug. 19 / Constructed by Freddie Cheng

The phrase “Oh, really?” has taken on a decidedly snarky tone for me since Saturday Night Live introduced the “Really!?!” segment during Weekend Update.

In today’s crossword, though, the emphasis is on the “Oh” part of the phrase. It’s a literal indication of the “New element in each of this puzzle’s theme answers”: AN O (122 Down).

Constructor Freddie Cheng has taken common phrases with “-el” sounds and cleverly replaced them with “-oh” sounds. Figuring that out might lead you to say AHA! (“Solution reaction,” 95 Down).

So “Ultranationalism?” is JINGO ALL THE WAY (23 Across). “‘Thriller’ Grammy sweep?” is THE DAY OF THE JACKO (39 Across), a reference to pop star Michael Jackson’s nickname. “Speed at which the apocalypse is coming?” is TEMPO OF DOOM (48 Across). “Big gambling loss in the Biggest Little City in the World?” is RENO FAILURE (74 Across). And “Bad precept for U.S. foreign policy?” is AMERICAN EGO (91 Across).

My favorites: “Obsessive-compulsive soap purger?” is RINSE PSYCHO (64 Across). “Not a happy ending on the yellow brick road?” is TOTO ANNIHILATION (99 Across). And “TV detective with his unbalanced suspect?” is HAMMER AND SICKO (121 Across).

Perfect Place Dept.: The horizontal answer at the exact center of the grid is MIDDLETON (“Kate who married a prince,” 70 Across).

The Pits Dept.: The depressing clues “Dump,” “Dump” and “Dump, say” yield STY (13 Down), REFUSE HEAP (14 Down) and SELL (86 Down).

Slice Of Life Dept.: “Pizzeria order” is a PIE (58 Down), while a “Pizzeria need” is an OVEN (104 Down).

Ha Ha Dept.: “J.F.K. search party?” is TSA (6 Down), as in the airport screening agency.

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

The Meaning Of It

New York Times crossword Aug. 12 / Constructed by Patrick Berry

Fake Clue: “What Will Shortz will say if people don’t like the crossword puzzle?” Fake Answer: DON’T BLAME IT ON ME.

I think I finished this grid by Patrick Berry in record time. As was the case in last week’s puzzle, all the fun seemed to be in writing the clues, not solving them. The theme answers are common phrases containing the word IT, but used literally: “‘Quit trying to make a paper doll by ripping the paper!'” is CUT IT OUT (25 Across).

Others: “‘Talking isn’t going to reseal that wine bottle!'” is PUT A CORK IN IT (22 Across), although I think “put a fork in it” is a much more common iteration. “‘I can see why shoppers avoid this off-brand white bread!'” is IT’S NO WONDER (26 Across). “‘I already know my homemade cold cream is useless!'” is DON’T RUB IT IN (36 Across). “‘So you finally got the gist of the Stephen Hawking book!'” is IT’S ABOUT TIME (38 Across).

And more: “‘Of course this car isn’t voice-controlled!'” is IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING (63 Across), a reference — intentional or not — to a similarly powered vehicle in Norton Juster’s classic children’s book The Phantom Tollbooth. “‘This tippy Christmas tree is driving me crazy!'” is I CAN’T STAND IT (88 Across). “‘Stop dillydallying and use your boarding pass!'” is GET ON WITH IT (91 Across). “‘How dare you climb a barbed-wire fence wearing my sweater!'” is THAT TEARS IT (104 Across). “‘I’m in a hurry to see that bug squashed!'” is STEP ON IT (106 Across). And “‘Yeah, I’m asking for people’s impression of this inkblot — so?'” is WHAT’S IT TO YOU? (110 Across).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: I’m stretching it this week, but Philly will be hosting a reunion of “Hip-hop’s Run ___” DMC (36 Down) in a couple of weeks as part of Jay-Z’s “Made In America” music festival.

Haha Dept.: “Furry feller?” (58 Across) is a BEAVER, because the (jovial?) creature fells trees. “Hold up one’s end?” is MOON (70 Across).

Not-So-Goofy Fact Dept.: “Demotion victim of 2006” is the onetime planet PLUTO (74 Down).

London 2012 Dept.: The closing ceremony will be held at the Summer Olympics tonight — actually, it’s probably going on right now, although we in the U.S. won’t see the spectacle until prime-time. In that vein, let’s pay tribute to the athletes’ METTLE (“Fighting spirit,” 48 Down), as well as the funny opening ceremony bit with Agent 007 (Daniel Craig) and Queen Elizabeth II. Speaking of Bond, James Bond, “Shirley who sang ‘Goldfinger’” is BASSEY (37 Down).

Apologies Dept.: I just discovered today that the comments feature of this blog has been accidentally turned off for weeks. Part of me thinks that various WordPress updates must have changed my defaults, but I’m really not sure. Anyway, the comments are back on. Hope to hear from you soon.

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

Single-Minded

New York Times crossword Aug. 5 / Constructed by Patrick Merrell

What would TV announcers say if the London Olympics featured only one sport? Let the Game begin!

That’s a pretty stupid joke, and also unfortunately a hint to the theme of today’s puzzle. Constructor Patrick Merrell has taken the plural factor out of common phrases to create “single-minded” answers. So a “Disappointing ‘Who’s with me?’ response?” is a SHOW OF HAND (23 Across).

Others: “Work to maintain a C average?” is HIT THE BOOK (25 Across). “Mention that you know a secret?” is SPILL THE BEAN (31 Across). “One who’s read an encyclopedia’s first volume?” is a MAN OF LETTER (51 Across). “Podunk’s directory?” is a YELLOW PAGE (58 Across). “Having finished just one month of a job?” is WET BEHIND THE EAR (71 Across). “What one with a small nest egg enjoys?” is a GOLDEN YEAR (87 Across). “Despot’s concession?” is a BILL OF RIGHT (96 Across). “Occasional klutz?” is a BUTTERFINGER (109 Across). “Beginning magician’s arsenal?” is a BAG OF TRICK (121 Across). And “Go on a brief youthful binge?” is SOW ONE’S OAT (123 Across).

The problem with puzzles like this is that the fun lies in writing the clues, not solving them.

Fun Facts Dept.: “It no longer sells maize or mulberry” is CRAYOLA (102 Across), which is actually based about 60 miles north of Philly in Easton, Pa. “Composition of only four different notes” is TAPS (107 Across).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Silas of the Continental Congress” is DEANE (44 Down). The political gathering here was one of several assemblies that eventually led to the drafting of the Constitution, which begins with WE THE “___ people …” (59 Down). You can learn more at Philly’s National Constitution Center.

Seriously? Dept.: “Seat, informally” is USH (10 Down), which I’m guessing is a cheesey abbreviation of the infinitive “to usher.” Arrrgggh.

Words With Friends Dept.: I think I once played the letters TOPE in this game without knowing what the word meant — I was desperate to score points and it was accepted. Today’s puzzle made me want to look up the definition after a variation was used in 60 Down: “Locale for tapping, toping and tipping” is a PUB. “Tope” means to drink “habitually and to excess.”

Ha Ha Dept.: “Islander, e.g.” is an NHL-ER (90 Across), as in someone who plays hockey for the team from New York. “They’re shiny even after being burned” are CDS (1 Down).

Paparazzi Dept.: Quite a few celebrities in this puzzle. “Actress Annette” is BENING (80 Down). “James of ‘Las Vegas’” is CAAN (66 Across). “Money or Murphy” is EDDIE (9 Down). And “Actor Jay” is MOHR (119 Across).

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