Strike One

New York Times crossword puzzle June 8 / Constructed by Patrick Berry

We’re getting into the heart of baseball season, so I suppose it’s only appropriate to have a puzzle titled “Strike One.” But today’s crossword has nothing to do with America’s favorite pastime.

The theme answers are fairly boring when read straight on. Turns out you have “strike one” letter from each of those entries and replace it with an X to transform it into something else. This hint was spelled out at 124 Across: “Struck out, as one letter in each of this puzzle’s theme answers” – X’ED.

The clues also suggested this trick by using the strikethrough technique. Here’s an example at 23 Across: “Symbols of happiness Transmissions with colons, dashes and parentheses?” The answer to the stricken clue is entered in the grid: SMILEY FACES. The answer to the second clue – which you get by literally X’ing out a letter –  is SMILEY FAXES.

I have to admit that I solved two theme answers – and furrowed my brow really deeply for several minutes – before I understood what was going on. The puzzle isn’t very elegant, since actually entering the X in the grid just makes a mess; it doesn’t jibe with the answers going down. So you basically have to do it in your head, which isn’t really as much fun.

Other theme answers: “Sun Tzu tome Madame Tussaud’s specialty?” at 29 Across is THE ART OF WAR (WAX). “‘Star Wars’ character Where droids go to dry out?” at 38 Across is ARTOO DETOO (DETOX). “Gibbons and siamangs Mountaintop that’s not the very top?” at 42 Across are LESSER APES (APEX). And “Pageant Circumstances that render someone attractive?” at 56 Across is BEAUTY CONTEST (CONTEXT).

More: “Pine, e.g. Dinosaur that never goes out of style?” at 78 Across is an EVERGREEN TREE (T-REX). “Studio substitute Squarish bed?” at 92 Across is a BODY (BOXY) DOUBLE. “Member of a certain 1990s-2000s rock band Censor unhappy with ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Glee,’ maybe?” at 95 Across is a FOO (FOX) FIGHTER. “Children’s song Ignore the rest of the lunch I brought and just eat the fish?” at 102 Across is SKIP TO MY LOU (LOX). And “After-dinner display One way to see a pie’s filling?” at 113 Across is a DESSERT TRAY (X-RAY).

Another quibble: Though a strike in bowling is denoted by an X, a strike-out in baseball is marked with a K. (Which, of course, denotes three strikes.)

What did you think?

Haha Dept.: Among the more amusing clues were “Sucker?” for VAMPIRE (20 Across), “Order in the court?” for ALL RISE (13 Down), “You’ll see a lot of them” for NUDISTS (123 Across) and “Brown greenery?” for IVY (72 Down). (Brown University is an Ivy League school. Rim shot, please!)

Who Knew? Dept.: The world “Capital with more than 300 lakes within its limits” is OSLO (21 Across).

In Memoriam Dept.: “Caesar on TV” is SID (115 Down), who died earlier this year.

One Degree Of Kevin Bacon Dept.: “Sedgwick of ‘The Closer'” is actress KYRA (27 Across), who happens to be married to him.

Philly Shout-Outs Dept.: “Four-time pro hoops M.V.P.” is DR J (73 Across), the nickname for 76ers legend Julius Erving. And an exercise venue, for short is YMCA (104 Down). What does that have to do with Philly, you ask? Well, it so happens the Village People are in town today for the Philly Pride Parade. And you know they will sing that song.

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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3 thoughts on “Strike One”

  1. Eek! How did I miss that?! Nice catch, David. But I’ll stand by my comment about the Xes being somewhat inelegant. For a good example of how two letters should coexist in the same square, see this week’s “Dime Store” puzzle. (But no peeking ahead of time!)

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