Double Duty – The New York Times
5 mins read

Double Duty – The New York Times

jump to: tricky clue , today's theme

Sunday Puzzle – In his print introduction to this grid, Joel Fagliano writes: “Tracy Gray lives in Hunt Valley, MD. She and her husband, 35, recently owned and operated a lawn-and-landscaping business outside of Baltimore. The puzzle began with its title, which Tracy brainstormed themes to fit – the crossword equivalent of putting the cart before the horse.'

It's a beautiful Sunday grid that is fun and fast-paced. It is perfect for groups or crossword consultants and their pupils. I am amazed at how Ms. Gray can pull off the trick on the title.

There are six entries in this theme set, 23-, 39-, 63-, 74-, 100- and 118-across. They are presented with normal looking clues, and there is also a disclaimer. The theme entries are all clean and accessible: a little old pop culture and some famous expressions.

I had chosen 39-Across at the very beginning of my solution: “The group with the 2009 hit 'I Gotta Feeling'” is the Black Eyed Peas, no doubt. I was so confident that I started entering the solution, eventually running out of space and thus discovering the trick to the puzzle. There's a homophone in the house: think of multiple P's instead of peas. How many drinks? This is when the title of the puzzle, “Double Duty” comes into play; So does the entry below which crosses the last character of 39-across. That entry – 16D, “Small Dog Varieties” – resolves to the Teacup Poodle. We are one square short again, so the crossing square contains PP (there are two P's in a pod, I thought).

Once you understand that you should look for words that sound like plural single letters, topic entries begin to emerge. At 100-Across, “Seize the Opportunity” addresses the moment, or more accurately, seizing the (CC) moment. My favorite is 63-Across: “The Mantra of the Fitness Enthusiast.” The answer is (uuu) or lose it.

25A. I thought hopelessly about frozen devices and decided that “give a kick, say” would mean “reboot”. Instead, we are in the kitchen, facing a bland dish that can come to life if we spice it up.

35A. This word for “backless stool” returns to crossword puzzles for the first time since 1952, although it occasionally appears with the more common spelling. This is a tabourette, a small stand that was popular in 17th century France. It is also known as “taboret,” it comes from the French for “drum.”

43A. An “apple variety whose name sounds like the part of a flower” seems appropriate for a mysterious puzzle; The entry is stamen, a homophone of “stamen”. It is a bright red apple that tastes like “vanilla ghost,” Obviously.

80A. In this puzzle “POTUS's military title,” Commander in Chief, is spelled CINC. I'd never heard or seen this acronym before – it struck me as a slight nod to the topic, perhaps, but perhaps I'm too far from the Beltway (or the military).

3D. This is the first entry and is quite typical a piece of equipment, The clue “Angle measuring device” has a sign bar.

60D. Did I read that correctly about the clever letter change in this clue – “It owns the trademark for 'The Greatest Snow on Earth'”? Absolutely. It is neither “Barnum” nor “Bailey”; The answer is UTAH, where The slogan is omnipresent And even appears on license plates.

88A. A “bad place to leave food unattended” is a campsite where creatures are waiting for you to leave so they can eat something. I will keep my breakfast safe in the refrigerator.

The title and inspiration for this puzzle comes from a phrase I saw emblazoned on a certain brand of cat litter in the grocery store. There must be a theme to that phrase, my constructor brain screamed, as I quickly typed the words into the Notes app on my phone before I forgot them. Soon after, I looked up the definition of “double duty”, which said “designed to fill two functions”, and a concept began to emerge: the homophonic sound of double letters plural double letters (ee) in theme entries. Will be based on. for “ease”, uu for “use”, etc.) and some double letters in down theme entries will function as single letters spanning two words. This idea led me to my favorite genre of puzzle making: rebuses!

With 114 sections devoted to theme letters, I was worried I'd have too many three-, four- and five-letter words, but I was able to keep the total below my personal goal of 90 for Sunday. I was also pleased that I could introduce some first answer words and phrases into the XWord Info database.

Among the theme entries that ended up on the cutting room floor, “Penny (YY) and Pound Foolish” had several other double-letter combinations, as well as an extra “Y” right next to the “YY” rebus, which may have Was confusing. And two more: “She (Bibi) has knees” and “Uuu the force, Luke.”

I had fun creating this puzzle and I hope you enjoyed solving it!

Subscribers can Take a look at the answer key,

Trying to go back to the puzzle page? Right here.

What did you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.