Rich Katz’s New York Times crossword, “Double Talk” — Nate’s write-up
Before we get into this puzzle, I want to admit upfront that I solved the full thing without understanding how any of the theme answers / clues worked until well after the solve! That means (a) I suspect this puzzle might be a love-it-or-hate-it one for solvers and (b) the fill was clean and lovely so as to be accessible even if you didn’t grok the theme, which I appreciated!
– 21A JUNK IN THE TRUNK [But wait!] (homophone of “butt weight”)
– 38A STRING BIKINI [To peace!] (homophone of “two-piece”)
– 55A TUCKERED OUT [Holy Week] (homophone of “wholly weak”)
– 77A CORONATIONS [Air rights] (homophone of “heir rites”)
– 91A SUPERBOWL WIN [Bare feet] (homophone of “Bear feat,” I think? Like, the Chicago Bears?)
– 112A KINDERGARTENER [We won!] (homophone of “wee one”)
– 30D ROBITUSSIN [Flew by] (homophone of “flu buy” (not “flu bye,” like I first thought – thanks to John in the comments!))
– 51A BEACH HOTEL [See in] (homophone of “sea inn”)
So, each theme entry matches a spoken homophone (thus, the “Double Talk” title) of the original short, italicized clue. It took me way too long to make this connection, and I wonder if a more direct / less cryptic title would have helped? I’m still not 100% certain on two of the homophone interpretations, so let me know in the comments if you think I have any of them wrong!
Other random thoughts:
– One square stumped me, since I know quite little about “Star Wars”: the AMIDALA / ROBITUSSIN crossing at the I.
– There was some fun cluing in this puzzle! [Classic Greek archetype] for FRAT BRO, [Word for word, in Paris] for MOT, and [Column that might lead to a row?] for OP-ED.
Overall, the puzzle’s cluing and entries felt mostly modern / current, even if the homophone theme might have been more common in years past. That said, it was a quick and enjoyable solve for me! How did you enjoy the puzzle? Let us know in the comments section – and have a great weekend (+ 1 hour of extra sleep, if you’re turning clocks back tonight!).