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.

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