Sunday puzzle Michael Lieberman lives in Washington, DC, and works as an attorney for a consumer protection firm. This is the ninth New York Times crossword puzzle, and his second Sunday network in two years. His inspiration came when the title of Billy Joel’s song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” turned into “Boredom Didn’t Start the Fire,” which made no sense but made him laugh. He went looking for other such transformations that he could use to build the puzzle.
Mr. Lieberman’s mind is eager to learn about and expand upon these kinds of coincidences. He also designs Puns and Anagrams puzzles for The Times, which consist solely of wordplay. This expertise helps fill in a puzzle like this, so that the entire solution is fast-paced.
30 a. “The Company _____” (photo by Frans Hals) “is a 1630s . painting Hanging in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It was her original title, which refers to the militiamen she depicted Much longer and more formal. The name in the guide, “The MEAGER Company,” appeared when the restorer (Jan van Dijk) noticed how thin her subjects appeared.
78 a. This pun would fit right at home in the Puns and Anagrams puzzle. “Bread Maker?” can come out dough or cabbageAlso, when it’s mint.
14 d. “The god who was said to love his sister while still in the womb (!)” is Osiris, an ancient Egyptian deity. His love for Isis It started before they were born and continued after his death. He was killed, disassembled, reassembled, revived, and finally delivered to the underworld, where he became his master.
84 d. At first, I thought this guide might be in the feature set: “What’s so easy about cooking?” The entry is short and straightforward, though: SPATULA. This term is derived from the Latin for “small flyer. “
95 d. This “electronic game with a blue ‘drag’ handle has appeared in a crossword puzzle many times in the past few years: it’s called BOP IT.
There are seven entries in the attribute set for this puzzle, at 24-, 35-, 49-, 70-, 90-, 106- and 118-Across. Each has a trivial question as a clue, and each is a common term or phrase that is transformed by adding the same character pair to Inspector Clouseau-style French homologue. Things are so silly!
Take 24-Across: “Why is the party about to get a little less hip?” Resolves to SQUARE EN ROUTE. This means that “square”, spoil the party (United Nations Rabat Air in French)arrive to eat all the appetizers and have a blast Bertrand plastic. It’s also a play about the “square root” of course.
In 106-Across, the clue is “What do students often do in a karate class?” The answer is chopping en block. This was less obvious to me – not the “chopping block” part, but I’m not very familiar with EN BLOC. It is similar to “collectively” (which does not appear in this puzzle) and It seems to be used mostly in medicine, law and politics.
The guide in 90-Across was tough, too, but for a different reason. “A dish cooked to smooth things out after a fight?” It dissolves beautifully: it is a complete make-up. I had decided that the term that Mr. Lieberman was playing on here was “makeup TreeHe was confused. Keep in mind, however, that we are dealing with homophones. Thinking out loud, we actually start with “Makeup can“which many of us have in our area Sal de Pins. (I enjoyed solving this puzzle out loud, recalling bits and pieces of French high school, and I’m sure I sounded like a flock of precious sheep to anyone around me.)
Sure enough, the main theme is the center sprawl in 70-Across: “Get ready for a sword fight, McKellen and Fleming and all the other names out there!” I hope you realized that there are two “Ian” in this guide; However, his answer is very pleasant. Read it as EN GARDE, IANS OF THE GALAXY.
I hope you enjoyed the solution! My original submission included the subject entry DATA EN POINTE [“Star Trek” android reaching for something on a high shelf?]. The problem with this entry (aside from being not so funny) is that the French “en pointe” is not pronounced like the English “on point”, which I didn’t know until the editors broke the news. This led to some tweaks and the alternate entry CHOPPING EN BLOC, which is now one of my favorite theme entries – so all is well and ends well.
Special shout-outs go to Adam Wagner and Rafa Musa, who have often endured “Is this funny?” Inquiries about potential trait entries, as well as to the guy on the far left of the 30-Across.
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