Fast Work

New York Times crossword puzzle July 28 / Constructed by Andrew Reynolds

I probably wasn’t the only one to make fast work of “Fast Work,” a fairly easy puzzle that celebrates the upcoming 150th anniversary of the birth of HENRY FORD (“Business titan born July 30, 1863,” 5 Down).

The theme answers all revolve around one of Ford’s most famous creations, the MODEL T (“5-Down unit,” 116 Across). And constructor Andrew Reynolds has cleverly illustrated the ASSEMBLY LINE (“5-Down innovation,” 57 Down) aspect of the iconic car by “building” a Model T throughout the grid’s shaded squares (which I’m bolding and underlining):

PRELIM (“Early round,” 7 Across)

NEVERMORE (“Opposite of eternally,” 31 Across)

ALAMODOME (“Texas athletic site,” 52 Across)

SLEEP MODE (“A computer may be in it,” 73 Across)

ART MODELL (“N.F.L. owner who moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996,” 95 Across)

And finally ending with the finished product, the aforementioned MODEL T.

Solvers "build" a Model T with the shaded squares in the grid.
Solvers “build” a Model T with the shaded squares in the grid.

Other Ford-related entries: CONVEYOR BELT (“Feature of a 57-Down,” 16 Down); MASS PRODUCED (“Like the 116-Across,” 62 Across); TIN LIZZIE (“116-Across, colloquially,” 83 Down) and NYSE (“Where 5-Down’s company gets an ‘F’?” 85 Down). And the related “Auto safety feature, for short” – which the Model T assuredly didn’t have – is ABS (69 Across), for anti-lock braking system.

Here in Pennsylvania we’ve been so immersed in the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Gettysburg that it seems surprising that something else momentous could have happened 150 years ago. But how sad that the puzzle’s celebration of the auto magnate comes less than two weeks after Detroit filed for bankruptcy.

Repeat That? Dept.: The twice-used clue “Bobble” yields both SLIP (49 Down) and ERROR (25 Across). “Before long, poetically” is ANON (30 Down) while “Before, poetically” is ERE (32 Down). “Not conned by” is ONTO (6 Down), while “Cons” is HAS (61 Across) and “Con” is INMATE (79 Across).

Say What? Dept.: I got RNASE (“Genetic enzyme,” 26 Down) from crossing words, then looked it up to make sure. It’s a combination of RNA plus the enzyme suffix -ase. Ugh – cheap. The word TRIODE (“Old TV component”) seemed to work for 21 Across, which gave me STEWED as the answer for “Blasted” as 13 Down. I didn’t understand that at first, but now I’m thinking those two words are supposed to refer to being drunk – although no one I know uses them.

Quote Of The Day Dept.: “I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating” was written by SARTRE (47 Down).

Philly Shout-Outs Dept.: The US OPEN (“P.G.A. event played on Father’s Day,” 19 Across) was held last month at the Merion Golf Club, just over the city line from Philadelphia. And this puzzle marks the second consecutive appearance of the answer O-LAN (“Pearl Buck heroine,” 84 Down). Buck lived outside Philly at Green Hills Farm, where she is buried. Her home is now open for tours.

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

Artful Thinking

New York Times crossword puzzle July 21 / Constructed by Tracy Bennett

After a few weeks of puzzles with special characters or visual tricks, Will Shortz and constructor Tracy Bennett took it easy on us. Today’s puzzle simply requires the ability to think of famous painters whose names lend themselves to punny homonyms, like HELLO, DALI! (“Artist’s favorite Broadway musical?” 68 Across).

Others: ‘TIS THE CEZANNE (“Christmas song line from an artist?” 43 Across), QUE SERA SEURAT (“Artist’s expression for ‘Such is life’?” 89 Across), WITH FLYING KAHLOS (“How the expert artist passed her exam?” 112 Across), HERE WE GAUGUIN (“Artist’s line of weary resignation?” 15 Down), ONE TOO MANET (“What the tipsy artist had at the bar?” 41 Down), SMOKE AND MIROS (“What the artist confused people with?” 56 Down), and WADE IN THE WATTEAU (“Artist’s favorite spiritual?” 23 Across). Though I solved that last phrase with crossing words, I have to confess that I’ve never heard of Watteau or the song “Wade in the Water” – so I looked them up. You can read more about Watteau here and hear the song here.

Comic-Con Dept.: Today is the final day of the massive Comic-Con International in San Diego, so it seems appropriate to highlight AQUAMAN (“Atlantean superhero of DC Comics,” 72 Across) and the PENGUIN (“Batman villain,” 47 Across).

Doubled-Up Dept.: The twice-used clue “Pay to cross town, maybe” yields both HOP A CAB (44 Down) and CATCH A BUS (46 Down). “Easter purchase” yields both HAM (113 Down) and DYE (92 Across).

Words I’ve Never Used Dept.: Maybe it’s because I don’t pay kickbacks to anyone, but I didn’t know that “Monetary bribes, in slang,” are BOODLES (62 Across), which I got from crossing words. I’ve heard of the answer PLANETS, but never the word “orrery,” which was used in its clue (“Parts of an orrery,” 87 Across). And NERTS (“‘Phooey!’,” 50 Down) is pretty ridiculous. Who says that?

Nesting Dept.: It never occurred to me that “Female lobsters” are HENS (15 Across), but I guess that make sense since they lay eggs.

Fun Phrases Dept.: “Like old unrecyclable bottles” is NO DEPOSIT (3 Down). “Apiarist’s woe” is a BEE STING (85 Down). “Pop icon?” is PEPSI-COLA (47 Down). And “Part of an umpire’s count” is a carefully chosen phrase that clues the otherwise potentially puerile NO BALLS (83 Across).

Philly Shout-Outs Dept.: “Capone’s top henchman” was Frank NITTI (17 Down). Al Capone spent time behind bars here in Philly’s Eastern State Penitentiary, a very cool site that’s now a tourist attraction. And the “Good wife in ‘The Good Earth'” is O-LAN (63 Down), a character in the novel by Pearl S. Buck. The author’s home Green Hills Farm, where she is buried, is a National Historic Landmark and museum just outside Philadelphia in the town of Perkasie. A new novel by Buck is being published posthumously this fall.

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

Show Me The Money

New York Times crossword puzzle July 14 / Constructed by Daniel A. Finan

Is Cuba Gooding Jr. in the house? Because today’s extremely clever puzzle is all about his Oscar-winning catchphrase: “Show me the money!”

The famous slogan of his character in “Jerry Maguire” has a literal interpretation in the grid, which is populated with dollar- and cent signs. The theme consists of interlocking financial terms that create the $ and ¢ symbol where they overlap. How? By “superimposing one letter over another,” as the clue reads in 65 Across. For the $, that would be the letters S and I; for the ¢, the letters C and I.

So “Investing in a growth company” is GOING LONG (23 Across), while “Some liquid assets” is CASH ON HAND (3 Down). And where the S in CASH meets the I in GOING, you enter both into the box to create the $. Genius, really.

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Others: PENNY STO¢KS (“High-risk investments,” 25 Across) crosses with PRICE POINT (“Spot on a demand curve,” 16 Down); TI¢KER TAPES (“Quotation sources, once,” 110 Across) crosses with BOTTOM LINE (“Key business figure,” 70 Down); SUNK CO$TS (“Unrecoverable investment expenses,” 112 Across) crosses with BOND RATING (“AA or AAA, maybe,” 73 Down); and FISCAL CLIFF (“With 58-Down, financial topic of 2012-13,” 62 Down) crosses with DOLLAR$ AND ¢ENTS (“Money … or a hint to how six crossings in this puzzle are to be represented, superimposing one letter over another,” 65 Across).

The word “superimposing” in 65 Across really gave me the hint I needed, although it still took me a little while to get it – some of us make our $ with two vertical lines, am I right? So I though about using an S and H for a bit before figuring it out. Anyway, great puzzle by Daniel A. Finan. Wish there had been more theme answers.

He Who Dies With The Most Toys Doesn’t Win Dept.: “Source of the line ‘Thy money perish with thee'” is the Bible book of ACTS (14 Down).

Quibbles Dept.: The answer for “Horrifies” (65 Down) is DISMAYS. Really? So “The Amityville Horror” could have been called “The Thing That Dismayed Amityville”? Living in a house possessed by demons must not be so horrifying after all. Ugh. Roget would be horrified at equating those two words, I would think.

New Words Dept.: “Ancient Greek coins” are OBOLS (49 Down), which I got from crossing words. Never heard of them.

Fun Stuff Dept.: “Ones unlikely to write memoirs?” are AMNESIACS (4 Down). “Antics” are ZANINESS (28 Across). “Small role in ‘Austin Powers’ movies” is MINI ME (11 Down). “Fool” is a JACKASS (34 Down). “Request from a guest over an apartment intercom” is LET ME UP (81 Across). “Bully’s coercive comeback” is SAYS ME (71 Across). And a “Briefing spot” is the PRESS ROOM (80 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: Going into the All-Star break, the Phillies are just about at .500. I’m not really optimistic, but I’m going to keep hoping for a “Ticket to the World Series” — PENNANT (12 Down).

POSTED EARLIER: You might want to study the Business section before tackling Sunday’s extremely clever NYT crossword puzzle.

I solved the grid from the wilds of Cape Cod today — this is a placeholder post until I get back from the beach! Until then, the hint at 65 Across is pretty priceless. Literally.

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

Bonus Features

New York Times crossword puzzle July 7 / Constructed by Joel Fagliano

I really had fun with today’s puzzle, which required some angular thinking. The title “Bonus Features” signaled that something tricky was up, and it started right off the bat with 1 Down. I had filled in FAMER (“Hall-of-___”) at 1 Across; that meant the “President who was not elected” (1 Down) began with an F. I could have entered FORD at that point, but luckily I filled in some crossing words first – and that led to me to think the answer had to be Millard Fillmore. But FILLMORE clearly wasn’t going to fit, unless there was a “bonus feature” I hadn’t yet figured out.

This puzzle required some angular thinking.
This puzzle required some angular thinking.

Then I noticed my Philly Shout-Out at 65 Across: “College near Philadelphia.” Six squares weren’t enough for any school I could think of – but there was SWARTHMORE, which happened to share the “-more” aspect of FILLMORE. Hmmm. I began to think that “MORE” would be squeezed into one square, but then I realized the word simply turned the corner – my moment of AHA! (“What this puzzle may make you say,” 125 Down).

To put it in TV lingo: BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! “Infomercial line … with a hint to 10 answers in this puzzle,” 70 Across).

More MOREs Dept.: SOPHOMORE (“Second or tenth, in a way,” 22 Down), MOUNT RUSHMORE (“It’s known for big busts,” 6 Down); BALTIMORE (“Sun spot?” 61 Across); LESS IS MORE (“Minimalist’s philosophy,” 108 Across); TELL ME MORE (“‘Go on …’,” 67 Down); ALUMINUM ORE (“Bauxite, e.g.,” 10 Down); and THAT’S AMORE (“Dean Martin classic,” 110 Across). And, luckily, after getting home from a pathetic Phillies game, I turned on a rerun of “Saturday Night Live” that happened to feature musical guest MACKLEMORE (“White rapper with two #1 hits,” 106 Down), whom I had never heard of and otherwise would have stumped me today.

Doubled-Up Dept.: The twice-used clue “Miner’s aid” yields both LAMP (115 Across) and TRAM (105 Across).

Cheap! Cheap! Dept.: I’m not going to quibble too much with these answers, but they are borderline: TOASTEE (“The ‘you’ of ‘Here’s to you!’,” 36 Down) and ECOTAGE (“Environmental extremists’ acts,” 34 Down), which I guess is combination of “ecology” and “sabotage.” I’ve heard the term “ecoterrorism,” but not “ecotage.”

Jeopardy Dept.: There seemed to be an unusual number of clues phrased as not-quite questions – and I learned some trivia from them. “Where the Code of Hammurabi is displayed” is the LOUVRE (76 Down). “What the hyphen in an emoticon often represents” is a NOSE (100 Across). “Where the Confederate flag was first flown: Abbr.” is ALA. (75 Across). And “What the winged woman is holding in the Emmy statuette” is apparently an ATOM (41 Down), though I always thought it represented a globe.

Mad Men Dept.: Speaking of statuettes, “Pitching awards” (119 Across) are not Cy Youngs, for baseball, but CLIOS, for advertising.

Transportation Dept.: “Snowbird’s vehicle, maybe” is a MOTORHOME (3 Down). “Long rides?” are LIMOUSINES (21 Across). And the “U.S.S. Ward, e.g.” is a DESTROYER (88 Down).

For Fun Dept.: Found lots of clever, long entries in this grid, including UP TO NO GOOD (“Like a mischief-maker,” 25 Across); BIG DUMMY (“Chowderhead,” 15 Down); PARANORMAL (“Spirited?” 121 Across); APOSTROPHE (“Will-o’-the-wisp feature,” 128 Across); and WHO, ME? (“Words of faux innocence,” 8 Down).

Need some solving tips and tricks? I’ve posted some here. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. You can also visit my Facebook page, or tweet me @crosswordkathy.