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).
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).
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.