New York Times crossword May 26 / Constructed by Joon Pahk and Jeremy Horwitz
Today’s funny puzzle wasn’t hard to figure out, but the constructors get big points for cleverness. The title is a literal reference to the theme, which combines film titles with the names of television shows to create witty “Made-For-TV Movies.” So a “TV movie about … where I can easily get a cab?” is TAXI STAND BY ME (23 Across). And a movie about “… where to go in Togo?” is the very amusing OUTHOUSE OF AFRICA (30 Across), combining the Hugh Laurie show with the Meryl Streep film.
Others: A TV movie about ”… a Hispanic ‘hip hip hooray’?” is THREE CHEERS AMIGOS (47 Across); “… trying to get a friar to violate his vow of silence?” is SAY ANYTHING, MONK! (62 Across); “… a singing group that meets for bacon and eggs?” is BREAKFAST GLEE CLUB (83 Across); “… Skywalker’s trendy hygiene products?” is COOL HANDSOAP LUKE (97 Across); and “… giving a pipsqueak the brush-off?” is GET LOST, SHORTY! (111 Across).
Checkered Flag Dept.: As I write this, the ladies and gentlemen are about start their engines for the Indy 500. So 99 Down was an especially appropriate clue today: “Surname appearing nine times in a list of Indy 500 winners” – UNSER.
Tell Me More Dept.: “Hellhound of Norse mythology” is GARM (52 Down), which I figured out from crossing clues. I’d never heard of it, so I looked it up – and it sounds like a pretty fearsome beast, with ”four eyes and a chest drenched with blood.”
Parlez-Vous Francais? Dept.: There were quite a few French words in this grid – MERCI (“Comment that might get the response ‘de rien’,” 77 Down); ROIS (“Old French line,” 76 Across); ENTRE (“___ nous,” 102 Down); and ETE (“French word with two accents,” 29 Across), which should have marks over both E’s. The words mean “thank you,” “kings,” “between” and “summer,” respectively. Also in this category is GAVOTTE (“Baroque French dance,” 13 Across), which I was not familiar with.
Say Who? Say What? Dept.: I would have clued RHEE (43 Down) using a reference to Michelle Rhee, an education activist who’s the former chancellor of public schools in Washington, D.C. This puzzle clued it as “Syngman of South Korea,” which I solved and later looked up: Syngman Rhee was the first president of that country. Also new to me was the term CAIRENE (“Yasir Arafat, by birth,” 115 Across), which I got from crossing entries. It means a native of Cairo.
Haha Dept.: “Parliament constituent?” is NICOTINE (105 Across). “Concave object of reflection?” is an INNIE (91 Across), as in belly-button. Get it? Navel-gazing? “Ones going to Washington?” are TAX RETURNS (3 Down). And “Has an adult conversation?” is TALKS DIRTY (73 Down).
Other Fun Entries Dept.: ELM TREE (“State symbol of Massachusetts,” 116 Across), BEEHIVES (“Retro dos,” 83 Down), HOT BATH (“Relaxing soak,” 21 Across) and OLE MISS (“Alma mater of Eli Manning,” 22 Across).
Philly Shout-Out Dept.: “Specter of the Senate, once” is ARLEN (61 Across). The longtime Pennsylvania senator, who died last year, lived here for decades.