Predictable Partings

New York Times crossword puzzle April 27 / Constructed by John Lampkin

Had to work my day job on this sunny spring Sunday, so apologies for the late post. Luckily, this easy grid allowed me to finish in near-record time – or LICKETY SPLIT, as the soda jerk at 108 Across might say.

Today’s theme is all about emergency exits. The hasty departures are common phrases made punny by the occupations they’re linked to. So “The paparazzo … WAS GONE IN A FLASH” (23 Across) while “The demolitionist … BLEW THE JOINT” (35 Across). Others:

_ “The civil engineer … HIT THE ROAD” (55 Across) while “The lingerie manufacturer … SLIPPED AWAY” (60 Across).

_ “The chicken farmer … FLEW THE COOP” (69 Across) while “The sound technician … MADE TRACKS” (74 Across).

_ “The film director … QUIT THE SCENE” (92 Across) while “The soda jerk … RAN LICKETY SPLIT” (108 Across).

_ “The van driver … MOVED ON” (84 Down) while “The paper doll maker … CUT OUT” (89 Down).

_ And finally, “The percussionist … BEAT IT” (17 Down) while “The ecdysiast … TOOK OFF” (15 Down). Confession: I have no idea what an ecdysiast is – maybe a nudist? A quick check of the dictionary … and I’m close. It’s a stripper.

An impressive number of theme answers, but pretty predictable once you figured out the trick. (Which, of course, is what the puzzle’s title promised.)

Ugh Dept.: There were quite a few fudges to make this grid work, the worst being DO TO A T (“Execute perfectly,” 100 Across). IKON was also not one of my favorites (“Religious figure: Var.” 102 Down).

Well, I’m not sure what type of parting would be ascribed to a crossword blogger, but I’m going to skedaddle. It’s a lot more fun than logging off.

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.

On Wheels

New York Times crossword puzzle April 20 / Constructed by Elizabeth C. Gorski

Be careful making your way through today’s clever puzzle: It’s filled with cars, and there’s no crosswalk in sight.

Constructor Elizabeth C. Gorski is known for great visual tricks, so I immediately focused on the answers containing circled letters. The first one I solved yielded an O in each circle: TO YOU (“Toast words after ‘Here’s’,” 26 Across). Hmmm. Kinda seems like she’s trying to symbolize the “wheels” in the title, no? But I was stuck, partly because I mistakenly wrote ALFY for “Woody’s ‘Annie Hall’ role” at 3 Down. (I later realized it’s ALVY.)

Today's puzzle is a veritable parking lot. (Click to enlarge.)
Today’s puzzle is a veritable parking lot. (Click to enlarge.)

So I moved on and quickly found two more O’s in the circles of BOLEROS (“Short open jackets,” 41 Across). The answer directly above that came easily: MUSTANG SALLY (“1966 Wilson Pickett R&B hit,” 34 Across). Well, whaddya know? The MUSTANG is perfectly balanced over the “wheels” in BOLEROS. Pretty neat.

Other vehicles: The Hyundai SONATA, in HORN SONATA (“Recital piece for a wind player,” 25 Across); the Cadillac SEVILLE, in BARBER OF SEVILLE (“Opera based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais, with ‘The’,” 54 Across); the Dodge CHARGER, in SAN DIEGO CHARGER (“Qualcomm Stadium athlete,” 76 Across); the Volkswagen BEETLE, in BEETLE BAILEY (“Walker’s strip,” 93 Across); the Kia OPTIMA, in OPTIMA CARD (“Visa alternative,” 110 Across); the Subaru FORESTER, in C.S. FORESTER (“‘The African Queen’ novelist,” 112 Across); and the Honda CIVIC, from CIVIC PRIDE (“Attribute of Elks or Lions Club members,” 23 Across).

Mag Wheels / Wheels Mag Dept.: A place to read more about these cars is MOTOR Trend magazine (16 Down).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: A “Mobile home seeker?” is CALDER, as in artist Alexander Calder. His mobile “Ghost” can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and his father’s Swann Memorial Fountain is one of my favorite spots in the city. His grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, created the massive sculpture of William Penn that’s perched atop City Hall. (No, it’s not Benjamin Franklin!)

Plumbing Dept.: It’s not worth explaining how I screwed up my initial entry for “Pipe valves” at 43 Across. Suffice to say that when I finally figured out what it was supposed to be, it was a term I had never heard: STOPCOCKS. I also wrongly entered DEACON at 93 Down (“English church official”) and had change it to the more esoteric BEADLE after filling in some surrounding answers.

Um, Who? Dept.: Crossing words gave me RANDI as the “‘Amazing’ debunker” at 75 Down, but I had to look it up to understand the answer. Apparently former magician James Randi and his foundation work to expose “supernatural” phenomena and the like.

Short Circuit Dept.: EES (“Some M.I.T. grads: Abbr.” 88 Down) are EES, which would really be written “EEs,” which is short for electrical engineers. Cheap.

Hoppy Holidays Dept.: Today is Easter, so I’ll point out the “Query from Judas” at 97 Down: IS IT I?

For Fun Dept.: Some fun words in the fill, including COLD CEREAL (“Quaker production,” 46 Down), SNOWY EGRET (“Bird whose feathers were once prized by milliners,” 43 Down), ANDRONICUS (“Shakespeare’s ‘Titus ___’,” 38 Down), SCOTT TUROW (“Best-selling novelist whom Time called ‘Bard of the Litigious Age’,” 21 Across) and COTTON BALL “Makeup removal item,” 114 Across).

Haha Dept.: “City that sounds like a humdinger?” is BUTTE (96 DOWN). Get it? It’s pronounced BYOOT, as in “beaut”? Me neither.

Whoops! Dept.: Reader Bob Lee gently corrected me on 25 Across, which of course should be HORN SONATA, not HORA as I wrote in my grid.  (See comments below.) Thanks!

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.

It’s Taxing

New York Times crossword puzzle April 13 / Constructed by Dan Schoenholz

I tweeted this earlier today, but it’s so momentous that it bears repeating: For the first time in six months, it was meteorologically possible to solve the Sunday puzzle while sitting on my stoop. Woohoo!

Finally back to solving on the stoop!
Finally back to solving on the stoop!

Yes, it is finally spring. That means the 15th of APRIL (“Deadline time appropriate to this puzzle,” 100 Across) is just around the corner, as the grid’s title so kindly reminds us . So the theme takes common phrases and puts them in a 1040 frame of mind – and, luckily, the result is not too taxing, as reader @Sairey_Gamp cleverly puts it.

A “Chart used to calculate a married couple’s taxes?” is a TABLE FOR TWO (67 Across), while an “I.R.S. update?” is a SCHEDULE CHANGE (81 Across). A “Last-minute way to reduce tax for a desperate filer?” is an EMERGENCY SHELTER (93 Across). And a “C.P.A.’s masterstroke?” is a BRILLIANT DEDUCTION (104 Across).

Others: “C.P.A.’s advice for lowering future-year liabilities?” is ROLL THE CREDITS (49 Across). An “Agreement for an amount to be taken from one’s salary?” is WITHHOLDING CONSENT (25 Across). And “What C.P.A.’s wish for their clients?” is MANY HAPPY RETURNS (33 Across).

Philly Shout-Out Dept.: What on earth is ILLY (“In a bad way,” 110 Down)? It’s not a nickname for the City of Brotherly Love – though we do sometimes go by Illadelphia – and it’s certainly not a word I’ve ever used or heard. Am I alone here?

Head Scratchers Dept.: ILLY wasn’t the only entry that furrowed my brow. Let’s begin with LENITY (“Laxness,” 99 Down), an unusual term related to “leniency.” Originally I ended up with the non-existent word LENITH because I mistakenly wrote HOWL as the answer for “Wail” at 124 Across. (It’s YOWL.) Then there was ANNEAL (“Strengthen,” 119 Across), which sounds like it might be more common in labs, or ceramic- or glassblowing studios. Another one: ECOTONE, a term for the “Transition area from deciduous to evergreen, e.g.” (52 Down). ART GLASS (“Fragile decoration,” 22 Across) seemed a bit cheesy. Also, I wasn’t familiar with PILE as a synonym for “Reactor” (39 Across), though it looks like that’s pretty common.

For Fun Dept.: There was some good fill in this crossword, including HELLIONS (“Troublemakers,” 114 Across), LATRINE (“Division head?” 41 Down), SAFE AREA (“Neutral zone, say,” 18 Across), EAT ALONE (“What to ‘never’ do, according to the title of a 2005 best seller,” 82 Down) and REDBONE (“Breed of hunting dog,” 49 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.

At Times

New York Times crossword puzzle April 6 / Constructed by Patrick Berry

Today’s punny puzzle is all about seeing people in a different light. The theme turns common objects into behavioral descriptions: A “Clumsy pharmacist, at times?” is a MEDICINE DROPPER (23 Across), while a “Dressage rider, at times?” is a COLT REVOLVER (28 Across).

Others: An “Old-fashioned barber, at times?” is a FOAM RUBBER (47 Across). An “Inexperienced shucker, at times?” is an OYSTER CRACKER (54 Across). A “No-limit Texas hold ’em player, at times?” is ALL BETTER (65 Across). A “Farmer, at times?” is a CHICKEN TENDER (74 Across). A “Sleeping sunbather, at times?” is a BACK BURNER (84 Across). A “Dieter, at times?” is a SNACK COUNTER (103 Across). And a “Person getting out of a tub, at times?” is a BATHROOM SLIPPER (110 Across).

Kinda cute. Not hard. What did you think?

Conscious Uncoupling Dept.: A “Viscous substance” is GOOP (96 Down). Goop, of course, is also the lifestyle website run by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. It features recipes, fashion and the much-discussed recent announcement that she and husband Chris Martin (the lead singer of Coldplay) have broken up.

Mayday Dept.: The wordless clue featuring perhaps unfamiliar dots and dashes (which I’m unable to reproduce here) spells out the last name of its inventor: MORSE (44 Down). In a somewhat related entry, a more familiar Morse reference – SOS – is the “Signal that replaced ‘CQD'” (113 Down). Apparently, CQD stands for “Seeking you! Distress!” or “All stations! Distress!”

For Fun Dept.: Some interesting fill in this grid, including MONO-SKI (“Snowboard relative,” 14 Down),  SNEAK UP ON (“Take by surprise,” 79 Down), MIDSTREAM (“Current location?” 3 Down) and ABSOLUT (“Spirits in Scandinavia,” 90 Across).

All Things Considered Dept.: Both ARI (“NPR journalist Shapiro,” 19 Acros) and COKIE (“News analyst Roberts,” 45 Down) can be heard on National Public Radio. So can NYT puzzle editor Will Shortz, who appears every Sunday morning.

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.