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.

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