New York Times crossword March 3 / Constructed by Samuel A. Donaldson
Will Shortz gave us a break today. After last week’s brain-buster, this crossword was more of an amusing diversion. The theme answers switch around common phrases (or book names) to create titles for new “biographies,” like THE COOKING OF JOY (“‘It’s worth it just for Ms. Behar’s famous lasagna’,” 22 Across) and THE WARFARE OF ART (“‘A gripping narrative about one folk singer’s violent turn against Paul Simon’,” 103 Across).
Others: THE DESTRUCTION OF EVE (“‘An insightful look at how playing Miss Brooks took its toll on Ms. Arden’,” 35 Across), THE SPADES OF JACK (“‘You don’t have to be a gardener to dig this book about Kerouac’s tools’,” 48 Across), THE TIME OF NICK (“‘Finally, we learn how one Jonas brother defined an entire generation’,” 58 Across), THE RIGHTS OF BILL (“‘Clinton’s a well-known southpaw, so this expose on his other-handed punches is an eye-opener’,” 73 Across), and THE DARKNESS OF PRINCE (“‘Required reading for all “Purple Rain” fans who think their idol is too goody-goody’,” 87 Across).
Not a bad concept, but the real creativity seemed to be in the clue-writing, not the solving.
Along Those Lines Dept.: The grid also contains CORD OF WOOD (“Winter supply usually stored outside,” 15 Down), though it’s not part of the theme.
History Lesson Dept.: The “Last Incan emperor” was ATAHUALPA (71 Down), which I got from crossing words and then looked up, because I’d never heard of him. The ruler apparently met an unceremonious end at the hands of the Spanish.
Philly Shout-Out Dept.: While a “Chicago lakefront attraction” is NAVY PIER (82 Across), here in Philly we have the Navy Yard. They used to make U.S. battleships there, but now it’s a business hub that has undergone a renaissance of sorts in recent years.
Tough Times Dept.: “Casino that’s partly underwater?” is a RIVERBOAT (72 Down) — unless you’re in Atlantic City. In that case, the answer might be Revel, the uber-luxurious, beachfront gambling hall and resort that recently said it would file for bankruptcy protection.
Name Game Dept.: Did the constructor’s name seem familiar to you? Turns out it’s Georgia State University law professor Samuel A. Donaldson, not former ABC news anchor Sam Donaldson (even though his middle initial is also “A”). (Related Philly shout-out: You’ll see ads for Justin Bieber all over the subway system here — but this Bieber is a lawyer, not a pop star.)
For Fun Dept.: Other long entries not part of the theme include O PIONEERS (“Start of Willa Cather’s Great Plains trilogy,” 16 Down), BLISTER PACK (“Plastic casing for some pills,” 63 Down), TEETOTALERS (“Dry ones,” 3 Down) and EASY DOES IT (“‘Nice and slow’,” 66 Down).
Stumped Me Dept.: I left one square empty in this puzzle. I had to look up PASSIVATE (“Give an anticorrosive coating,” 17 Down), from which I was missing the second S, because I also didn’t know “Mathematician Paul” ERDOS (28 Across). Sounds like Erdos was quite an interesting guy.