Hearing Double

New York Times crossword Dec. 16 / Constructed by Matt Ginsberg

Sorry for the late post; I had the weekend shift at work. Today’s puzzle was a mixed bag — I really liked the theme answers, which, as you might have guessed from the title, turned out include not just one homonym but two. Not a difficult concept, but the phrases were pretty clever — and there were quite a few. Among them: KNOT FOR PROPHET (“Soothsayer’s shoelace problem?” 64 Across), WOOD YOU MINED (“Souvenir from the Petrified Forest?” 23 Across) and NEED THE DOE (“What randy bucks do?” 29 Across).

Others: AYE OF KNUTE (“Agreement from the Gipper’s coach?” 31 Across), MAID OF METTLE (“Plucky housekeeper?” 42 Across), C’EST GOOD KNIGHT (“‘Well done, Sir Lancelot,’ in Franglais?” 56 Across), HALVE THE RITE (“Shorten a bar mitzvah by 50%?” 78 Across) and BYRD OF PRAY (“Polar explorer, after getting religion?” 93 Across).

More: LES IS MOORE (“Tagline for the biopic ‘Dudley’ starring bandleader Brown?” 95 Across), AISLE OF WHITE (“Where Macy’s keeps the wedding dresses?” 101 Across), PROSE AND KHANS (“Book about the writing style of the Mongols?” 3 Down) and THREW THE REIGN (“Abdicated?” 54 Down).

The trade-off for these clever turns-of-phrase was that the grid was also filled with some pretty obscure entries: FOEHN (“Alpine wind,” 88 Across), NODOSE (“Knobby,” 40 Across) and SKAT (“Trick-taking card game,” 53 Across). I’ve played a lot of trick-taking card games — namely Hearts and Casino — but I’ve never heard of that one. And who is TOTIE (“Funny Fields,” 58 Down)? Not to mention Joseph ALIOTO (“Former San Francisco mayor,” 7 Down).

For Fun Dept.: “Words from Sgt. Friday” are I’M A COP (71 Down). “Drama set at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency” is MAD MEN (45 Across). And the grid also featured SHEA (“Home to the 90-Down, once,” 106 Across) and NY METS (“See 106-Across,” 90 Down).

Words You Don’t See Every Day Dept.: IDOLATRY (“Ten Commandments no-no,” 100 Across) and SOON-YI (“Andre and Mia’s adoptive daughter,” 2 Down). I think “adopted” is actually the better word for that clue, unless you’d rather just go with “Woody’s wife.”

How The Mighty Have Fallen Dept.: “Bygone bookstore chain” is BORDERS (83 Down).

Winnie-The-Pooh Dept.: “Who wrote ‘A bear however hard he tries / Grows tubby without exercise'” is MILNE (44 Down).

Philly-Area Shout Out Dept.: “Tolkein trilogy, to fans” is LOTR (38 Across), short for “Lord of the Rings.” The prequel to the book set, “The Hobbit,” was made into a new movie that raked in a bunch of money this weekend, despite weak reviews. To tie in with the movie’s release, my colleague wrote a story about a “Hobbit house” in the Philly exurbs of Chester County.

What’s Up With That? Dept.: “What mayo is a part of” is ANO, or AN O, or A NO (37 Across). I have no idea what that answer means. Help?

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3 thoughts on “Hearing Double”

  1. Thanks to reader Keith, who because of a technical glitch posted a comment for this post on my previous post (“Last Name First”). Here’s his comment:

    Mayo — Spanish month in an ano (Spanish year)

    Of course Skat is mostly used as the answer for a 3 handed game.

  2. Sorry, Kathy, George Gipp was a star player for Notre Dame under coach Knute Rockne (see Ronald Reagan in the role of “the Gipper” who died, as in “win one for the Gipper”). I enjoy your blog.

  3. @Alan – Oops! I appreciate the correction on the Gipper. I knew the phrase (“Win one for the Gipper”) but clearly never absorbed who he actually was. Thanks for reading!

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