Joined Sides

New York Times crossword puzzle May 4 / Constructed by Mary Lou Guizzo

Today’s very sharp puzzle is filled with double-speak – if you know where to look.

The hint lies at 70 Across: DOUBLE-EDGED (“Like some swords … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme,” 70 Across). And although it took me a while, I finally realized the clever implication: The answers along the grid’s four edges are preceded by the implied word “double.”

So the top side features (DOUBLE) BARRELED (“Like many shotguns,” 1 Across); (DOUBLE) AGENT (“Mole,” 9 Across); and (DOUBLE) HEADER (“Back-to-back games,” 14 Across).

The perimeter is key to solving "Joined Sides." (Click to enlarge.)
The perimeter is key to solving “Joined Sides.” (Click to enlarge.)

Continuing clockwise, you get: (DOUBLE) ROOM (“Hotel accommodation for more than one,” 19 Down); (DOUBLE) TEAM (“Gang up on, as in basketball,” 41 Down); (DOUBLE) BED (“Relative of a twin,” 74 Down); and (DOUBLE)-CROSSED (“Betrayed,” 101 Down).

Bottom side: (DOUBLE) STANDARD (“Source of some discrimination,” 129 Across); (DOUBLE) HELIX (“Genetic structure,” 128 Across); (DOUBLE) DECKER (“Classic London transport,” 127 Across).

Left side: (DOUBLE) BOND (“Attraction in a carbon dioxide molecule,” 112 Down); (DOUBLE) TAKE (“Reaction of surprise,” 79 Down); (DOUBLE) DIP (“Commit a chip-eating faux pas,” 53 Down); and (DOUBLE) BASSOON (“Wind instrument pitched an active lower than its smaller cousin,” 1 Down).

I think I was halfway through the puzzle, bordering on panic, before I figured it out. I had the central answer, DOUBLE-EDGED, and even had several of the theme answers entered … but I never thought anything was missing. I don’t know much about firearms, so BARRELED seemed like an entirely plausible answer by itself for “Like many shotguns.” And AGENT seemed like a terse but still accurate synonym for “Mole.”

I began wondering if the title “Joined Sides” meant words that ended on the right were somehow linked to words that started on the left? Nope. Then I took another look at the edges, and it hit me when I focused on BED as the answer for “Relative of a twin.” BED by itself seemed too much of a shortcut and very un-Shortz-like. But (DOUBLE) BED … well, that was just genius.

Doubled-Up  Dept.: Sick of doubles yet? “Enter quickly” was a twice-used clue in this puzzle, yielding RUN ON IN at 3 Down and HOP INTO at 14 Down.

Silver Screen Dept.: “‘Platoon’ setting” is VIETNAM (29 Across), while “‘Platoon’ director” is OLIVER STONE (34 Across). “Thelma and Louise, e.g.” are TITLE ROLES (79 Across). And “Dimmed stars?” are HAS-BEENS (39 Down).

Golden Microphone Dept.: “Singer Christina” is AGUILERA (20 Across) while “The Who’s ‘My Generation,’ e.g.” is a DEBUT ALBUM (60 Across). The “Start of a Beatles refrain” is OB-LA-DI (77 Across).

Banner Trivia Dept.: I was surprised to discover that the “Country whose flag says ‘God is great’ 22 times” is IRAN (92 Down). How had I not noticed that before? A quick check of the design reveals that I had mistaken the script for fancy borders along the two stripes.

Say What? Dept.: I puzzled out two unfamiliar terms in this crossword. I’ve heard of a sloe gin fizz, but never a RAMOS gin fizz (21 Across)? (I’m more of a gin-and-tonic girl myself.) And “Heath evergreens” are apparently known as ERICAS (7 Down), an answer I would have clued using famous females with that name. Then again … those pickings seem to be pretty slim. (Or maybe I’m just not hip enough to recognize any of them.)

Note: This post has been updated to add a photo.

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