New York Times crossword puzzle Aug. 25 / Constructed by Victor Barocas
Greetings from the Left Coast, otherwise known as L.A. That sentence used two capital L’s, in keeping with the title of today’s clever puzzle.
This crossword tests both your geometry and your geography skills, as eight state capitals are created in the grid through the juxtaposition of L-shaped answers – meaning they’re entered at right angles, similar to the “Bonus Features” theme a few weeks ago.
I first realized something tricky was afoot when I ended up with HE__NA for the “Hint-giving columnist” at 106 Across. Hmmm. Did Heloise die? And does she have a daughter, possibly named Helena, who took over the column? Through crossing words, I soon figured out that HELOISE turned the corner at 108 Down (clued by the enigmatic single dash “–”), forming an upside-down capital L shape.
Still, HELENA certainly fit at 106 Across – and that couldn’t be an accident. So what was up with that?
I moved on to tap memories of a TV show from my childhood days. I knew the “White-suited ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ villain” was BOSS HOGG (71 Across), which also had to be entered as an upside-down L in order to fit. After filling out a few crossing words, I figured that the “Connecticut city” at 46 Down had to be SHELTON, turning the corner and forming a normal capital L shape. The abutment of those “capital L’s” yielded BOSTON at 71 Across.
From there, it was easy. I went back to HELENA and solved 77 Down (“1990s craze”) to form the second capital L: MACARENA.
Other capitals: JUNEAU, formed by JUNIPER (“Berry used to make gin,” 37 Across) and THOREAU (“He wrote ‘It is life near the bone where it is sweetest’,” 20 Down); TOPEKA, formed by TOP DOGS (“Big kahunas,” 27 Across) and EUREKA (“Cry of epiphany,” 9 Down); DENVER, formed by DENOUNCE (“Censure,” 35 Across) and CLEAVER (“Butcher’s tool,” 16 Down); AUSTIN, formed by AUSTERE (“Spartan,” 73 Across) and TINACTIN (“Athlete’s foot treatment,” 43 Down); ALBANY, formed by ALBERTS (“Einstein and Camus,” 104 Across) and TIFFANY (“Renowned jeweler,” 81 Down); and PIERRE, formed by PIETAS (“Religious art figures,” 116 Across) and LE CARRE (“Best-selling author who once worked for Britain’s MI6,” 94 Down).
Closer To The Heart Dept.: “Rush job?” is a ROCK CONCERT, referring to a band that I didn’t even realize was still around. Apparently, the performers of the long-ago hit “Tom Sawyer” just finished their “Clockwork Angels” tour. They are also REISSUING (“Putting out on an anniversary, maybe,” 47 Across) some old tunes.
Doubled-Up Dept.: “Rosemary piece” is a SPRIG (68 Down), while the neighboring “Rosemary feature” is AROMA (69 Down).
For Fun Dept.: Unusual entries in this puzzle include THIS IS A TEST (“Emergency Broadcast System opening,” 123 Across); A BUG’S LIFE (“Pixar movie between ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Toy Story 2’,” 130 Across); SPIN CITY (“TV show on which Charlie Sheen replaced Michael J. Fox,” 92 Down); RISK-FREE (“Guaranteed,” 95 Across); and GALAPAGOS (“Darwin stopping point, with ‘the’,” 97 Across).