Sunday, July 31, 2016: “Make That A Double”

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Solving time: 1:32:00. It might have only taken me just over an hour and a half (not all that unordinary for me when it comes to solving Sundays), but I thought that this puzzle would never end. It felt like an infinite slog. More on that later in today’s blogpost.

Puzzle quality: 

I would make a pun involving the [IT] rebus right now, but right now:



“Make That A Double,” where double means … two [IT] rebuses per theme answer. OK. Like. What. Can we acknowledge how arbitrary that is, especially given the title of the puzzle? I also have major problems with the theme revealer. More on that later. For now, here are the theme answers (ugh):

  • SW[IT]CH POS[IT]IONS (22A: Flip-flop). See how there are … two [IT]s? And how those [IT]s were turned into … rebuses??


  • CRED[IT] OR DEB[IT] (31A: Question asked at the cash register). The one amusing answer in today’s entire puzzle. I’m not entirely sure why it’s amusing, but it just seemed original. Also, the [IT] rebuses had a nice ring to them because they were both placed at the end of each long word in the answer.
  • IN[IT]IATION R[IT]E (59A: Occasion to learn a secret handshake).
  • L[IT]TLE WH[IT]E LIE (80A: Fib). I forgot that “fib” could be a noun in addition to a verb, so I kept thinking that the answer would be some variation on TELL A WHITE LIE. Unfortunately, there aren’t two [IT]s in that (incorrect) answer.
  • PATERN[IT]Y SU[IT] (107A: Way to get to know a father in law?). The question mark is very applicable here, not only because of the pun, but also because the theme answer makes no sense. What?? What does a father-in-law have to do with a paternity suit? Isn’t that a suit where the relationship between a father and a biological son is disputed? Can someone explain this to my dim-witted mind?
  • SECUR[IT]Y DEPOS[IT] (16D: Landlord’s request). I kept thinking that the answer would have something to do with paying the rent on time. As usual, turns out that I was wrong.
  • [IT]SY B[IT]SY SPIDER (58D: Climber in a children’s rhyme).

    Theme revealer: KEEP [IT] TOGETHER (118A: Stay cool … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme).

Welcome to the fourth week of Popular Discourse’s blog posts on the New York Times crossword, and welcome also to this week’s game of “Find Multiple-Word Phrases that Have the Word “It” Embedded in Them Twice.” Never mind whether the two “It”s are symmetrically placed in the phrase. Never mind whether the two “It”s stand alone as their own words. Never mind whether there’s any theme that ties the phrases together other than their arbitrary inclusion of the word “It.”

This might have been one of the most excruciating crossword puzzles that I’ve ever completed. The theme revealer is incredibly problematic (KEEP [IT] TOGETHER), for three reasons:

a) There aren’t two [IT]s in the phrase, unlike every theme answer
b) The phrase “KEEP IT TOGETHER” explains nothing about why there are two [IT] rebuses per theme answer.
c) The [IT] in the revealer stands alone as its own word, whereas the [IT] rebus in every theme answer is part of another word.

The awfulness of the revealer almost borders on unprofessional.

Besides, the clues for each of the theme answers aren’t even particularly clever or punny. As I mentioned above, 107A: “Way to get to know a father in law?” hardly suggests anything about a PATERNITY SUIT. I mean, I suppose if your spouse isn’t sure about who her father is and gets involved in a PATERNITY SUIT, that would be a way to “get to know a father in law.” Other than that, I can’t see any relationship between answer and clue.


On top of that, the fill was remarkably boring. It’s sad that the most interesting clue also had to be the first one that I solved – 1A: What an urgent message might be in (ALL CAPS). SONS is clued with 27A: Juniors. AGREE is clued with 35A: Match. 71A: Q neighbors (RST) tests your knowledge of the alphabet. What else is new? 63A: Opposite of fast, EAT, was funny, but I saw through the pun immediately.

Sometimes the same clue gets repeated twice in a puzzle for witty effect, but three is certainly too much. Yes, there are three different carbonated drinks in today’s crossword – POPSODA, and ALE – all packed together in the upper third of the grid.

33D: “<<” button: Abbr. got clued as just “” on my iPhone app for the New York Times crossword, so I was very puzzled when I found out that the answer was REW. 

A PURL is a “stitch,” as 65D: puts it, because it can refer to a “knitting stitch made by putting the needle through the front of the stitch.” OK, NYTimes, always trying to think of obscure definitions that nobody is aware of. To anyone who didn’t understand the answer, FROG, to 45D: Throat problem, the idiom “have a frog in one’s throat” means “to lose one’s voice.” I had forgotten about that phrase, just like I’ll forget about this puzzle as soon as the Monday rolls around.

Kenneth, lowly serf of Crossworld


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