What The …

New York Times crossword Oct. 28 / Constructed by Michael Sharp and Caleb Madison

Apologies for the late post today. We were driving back from NYC ahead of the — take your pick — Megastorm, Superstorm, Frankenstorm, Hybrid Hurricane Sandy. So far, things seem pretty normal in Philly: The Eagles are losing, and a light rain is falling. Hopefully, we’ll still have power and potable water at this time tomorrow. And the next day.

On to the puzzle. Today’s theme was not as profane as the title might suggest, although there were a couple of racy answers. SAFE WORD, anyone? (“‘Popsicle,’ in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ for one,” 106 Across.)

The theme required solvers to add the word “the” to common phrases to create new ones. So instead of Captain Bligh, of “Mutiny on the Bounty,” you have CAPTAIN BLITHE (“Cheerful superhero?” 38 Across). Speaking of mutinies, to “Take a patient approach to revenge?” is WAIT AND SEETHE (52 Across).

Others: “‘Come on, woman, shape that wood!’?” is LATHE, LADY, LATHE (23 Across), a reference to the Bob Dylan song. “Ones who stop giving to their church?” are TITHE BREAKERS (71 Across). “Softly exhale cheap sentiment?” is BREATHE CHEESE (89 Across), instead of brie. “Mad scientist’s sadistic exclamation upon attacking the Empire State?” is WRITHE, NEW YORK! (101 Across), playing off the town of Rye. “What the Grim Reaper’s backup carries?” is the SCYTHE OF RELIEF (119 Across). “‘If you don’t like my anger, do something about it!’?” is SO SOOTHE ME! (14 Down). And “Hate coke?” is LOATHE BLOW (76 Down), which uses two nicknames for cocaine that I was surprised Will allowed.

Seeing Red Dept.: IRITIS (“It might cause photophobia,” 102 Down) is an inflammation of the eye’s iris. And while we’re on the subject of irritation, this puzzle repeats an answer from last week — ANTIC (“Prankster-like,” 107 Down) — that was part of a major hurdle in entering the crossword contest. Arrrrghhh.

If Only Dept.: “Red Wing or Blackhawk” is an NHLER (48 Down), the likes of whom we will not see until December, if at all this year.

University, Schmuniversity Dept.: “Cornell who founded Western Union” is EZRA (92 Down). He made so much money they named an Ivy League school after him. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

Modern Day Dept.: Nice to see the answer CASTRO (95 Across) refer not to the old guard in Cuba but to the young “San Antonio mayor Julian, keynote speaker at the 2012 Democratic convention.” However, I’m taking a point off in this same category for the “Durst of Limp Bizkit” clue (116 Down). There hasn’t been a more prominent or reputable FRED in the past decade?

For Fun Dept.: Lots of great entries in this puzzle, including SCHLOCK (“Junk,” 58 Down), RUMOR MILL (“Dirt spreader,” 86 Down), BRA SIZE (“It’s measured in cups,” 66 Down), PARTY BUS (“Coach for dancing?” 13 Down), WATER PARK (“Summer recreation area,” 3 Down) and PAY PAL (“Web site with a ‘Send Money’ tab,” 8 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Creed of the ‘Rocky’ series” is not a motto, as I first thought, but the character APOLLO Creed.

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