A Giant Crossword

New York Times crossword Sept. 16 / Constructed by David Steinberg and Barry Haldiman

Once upon a time, there was a New York Times crossword. It had circles in the grid and a “giant” hint in the title. Though the pattern looked like a climbing vine, puzzlers couldn’t be sure of the imagery until solving a pair of theme clues. Together, they contained one of the most famous lines in all of Storydom: I SMELL THE BLOOD (3 Down) OF AN ENGLISHMAN (50 Down).

A famous fairy tale is hidden in today’s puzzle.

Four other entries hinted at the classic cry (“Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!”) that precedes the implied cannibalistic threat: FEEBLE ATTEMPT (“Not much of a try,” 54 Down); FINITE RESOURCE (“Oil, for one,” 33 Down); FOAM AT THE MOUTH (“Exhibit apoplexy,” 30 Down); and FUMBLE THE BALL (“Make a mistake,” 14 Down).

So when all was said and solved, it was no surprise that the circled letters spelled out JACK AND THE BEANSTALK.

And everyone lived happily ever after. The end.

It’s Not What You Think Dept.: At one point in the puzzle, I laughed when I saw that the crossing letters I had filled in for 49 Across were A–HOLE. Of course it didn’t end up being scatalogical: The clue was “Vest opening,” for ARMHOLE.

Gothic Confusion Dept.: “Grandpa Munster portrayer” is AL LEWIS (36 Across). I know this is sacrilegious for some, but I always get the Munsters and The Addams Family mixed up. There was a reference to the latter as well: Cousin ITT (65 Across).

Live From New York Dept.: “Saturday Night Live” had its season debut with Seth MacFarlane last night. “Androgynous ‘S.N.L.’ skit turned into a 1994 movie” is IT’S PAT (120 Across).

For Fun Dept.: “Domino’s most important part?” is PIZZA OVEN (23 Across). “Football pride of Detroit” is THE LIONS (57 Down), certainly playing on the phrase “pride of lions” and not the performance of the team, which until last year had not finished over .500 in a decade. “2000 Ricky Martin hit” is SHE BANGS (71 Across). And a “1972 Eastwood western” is JOE KIDD (20 Down).

Stumped Me Dept.: A trio of clues left me with a few empty squares at the end. Later figured out that “Half a Yale cheer” is BOOLA (77 Across), which crosses with ETON (“___ Dorney, locale of 2012 Olympic rowing,” 69 Down). That filled in ATOB for “One small step” (73 Across). Huh? Oh, they mean A TO B. Ugh. Lame.

A Piece Of Work Dept.: “Feminine suffix” is ENNE (127 Across), which struck me because last night we watched a documentary on Joan Rivers. There were a few montages of newspaper clippings in which she’s referred to as a comedienne, an old-fashioned term that reinforced just how long she’s been around.

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Comments

8 thoughts on “A Giant Crossword”

  1. You didn’t mention STEADS (successors’ spots) which crossed with DEES (couple of buddies?) which I thought were both a bit of a stretch. At least they stretched me.

    C

  2. @C – I agree that DEES was pretty lame. Would have been better to have clued it in terms of a bad report card, I think.

  3. I really struggled with the ‘STEAD’/’DEES’ also … still don’t quite ‘get’ the ‘STEAD’ clue. Struggled with the ‘OFF DAY’ also, even though I had the ‘OFF–Y’. Kept trying to fit ‘CALL IN’ for the ‘try to reach headquarters, e.g.’ clue. How about all the ‘doubles’? GG, ZZ, FF, EE (six times?), LL (twice?), OO, NN, TT (three?), etc. Sweet!

  4. @Ed – I’ve heard ‘STEAD’ used in phrases like, “Jim is off today, so I’ll serve as president in his stead.” But it is uncommon and somewhat old-fashioned, definitely. And I hadn’t noticed all the doubled letters — good eye!

  5. I think 5 across should be YEGG and 5 down YAPS. I had a hard time with this puzzle – ULNAS? Shouldn’t that be ULNAE? Never heard of cousin ITT (65a) and didn’t like ATOB either….

  6. @Eve – I threw out (recycled) this puzzle already, so I’m not sure what might have led me to enter RAGG/RAPS. But I’m sure you’re right on it being YEGG/YAPS, since I have no idea what a RAGG could be. As for ULNAS/ULNAE, I agree the plural is kind of a crapshoot. The “correct” answer seems to be whatever fits with the crossing word – the same goes for entries like AGORAS/AGORAE or even FORUMS/FORA.

  7. @Zulema – Yeah, I was definitely scratching my head on that one for a while. Thanks for reading!

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