Vowel Play

New York Times crossword puzzle Nov. 17 / Constructed by Julian Lim

I’m so glad to be posting this from the kitchen table while drinking coffee instead of from the sick bed while sipping soup, as I did last week.

In fact, today’s puzzle was a vowel soup of sorts. “Wheel of Fortune” contestants would spend a fortune solving this crossword, since each theme answer contains a string of all five vowels – though not necessarily in alphabetical order. So “Paintings of French estates?” are CHATEAU OILS (23 Across), while “All of the writings of a Persian faith?” is a BAHAI OEUVRE (36 Down).

Others: ROUE AIRLINES is a “Carrier for Casanovas?” (28 Across), UNDERSEA OUIJA is an “Aid for a submarine seance?” (52 Across), MAUI OENOPHILE is a “Hawaiian wine lover?” (82 Across), ADIEU OARSMAN! are “Last words from a coxswain?” (103 Across), PRAGUE AIOLI is a “Garlicky sauce in central Europe?” (112 Across), and LEIA OUTCOME is “‘Happily ever after’ with Han Solo?” (40 Down).

All in all, not a difficult puzzle. But I was impressed with the number and creativity of the theme answers.

Fairy Tales Dept.: Speaking of Princess Leia, I guess we’ll see if she and Han really do have a happy marriage now that they’ve given a date for the next “Star Wars” installment: Dec. 18, 2015.

Fun Phrases Dept.: There were quite a few entertaining, non-theme entries. “Hit show with many hits” is THE SOPRANOS (38 Down). “‘Stay cool!'” is DON’T PANIC (111 Across). “Achieve nirvana” is FIND PEACE (66 Across). “Spin, of a sort” is MEDIA BIAS (25 Across). “Gunfire, in slang” is HOT LEAD (4 Down). And “‘That’ll never happen!'” is GET REAL (96 Across).

Say What? Dept.: “Wee ones” are BAIRNS (14 Down), which I figured out from crossing words. Never heard the term.

Slumdog Millionaire Dept.: There were three references to India in the grid. “Indian state known for its tea” is ASSAM (42 Down). And the doubled clue “Indian tourist destination” yields both AGRA (22 Across), site of the Taj Mahal, and the coastal town of GOA (114 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. And here’s a little more about me.

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