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).

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