Evan Birnholz’s August 14 crossword solution, “Hearsay”

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Eight familiar phrases with one-letter words have been expanded into a longer word that sounds alike to create goofy phrases:

  • 22A: [“Three-base hit, hmm?”?] is “TRIPLE, huh?” based on Triple-A.
  • 35A: [“I’m not the one who’s going to change directions here!”?] is “NO, YOU TURN » based on Nope You-Round.
  • 39A: [Rocker Snider, when educating students at a French school?] is MASTER DEE based on Master D‘.
  • 49A: [“How is that affirmative vote supposed to help?”?] is “WHAT CAN AYE DO?” based on “Which can I do?
  • 70A: [Garments with pictures of Earl Grey and Darjeeling?] is TEA SHIRTS based on Tee-shirts.
  • 74A: [Be in debt to the Great White North?] is DUST CANADA based on “O Canada.”
  • 85A: [Like a pirate’s favorite films?] is ARR NOMINATED based on note R.
  • 95A: [Way of shouting “How could this happen?!” to a group of genetic molecules?] is “WHY CHROMOSOMES?” based on Yes chromosomes.

Take the single-letter words from the base sentences and say them out loud like you do in topic responses, and you get the telltale AUDITORY at 113A: [Hearing-related … and what’s spelled out by eight words in this puzzle when you say them out loud].

There are two non-thematic clues in this puzzle that I need to address, one of which is personal and one that I sincerely regret. I’ll start with the first. 98A: [Title for the late musician Bramwell Tovey] is MAESTRO. I mentioned Bramwell in this space last month after he passed away on July 12, but since I knew him personally, I wanted to pay him a little tribute in the crossword puzzle. I wrote more about his influence on me as a musician and as a friend which you can read on this Twitter thread here.

The second clue requires an apology. ANNA at 51D is index as [“Six Days Seven Nights” actress Heche]. While the clue is factually correct, it’s a particularly gruesome moment considering Heche’s tragic death on Friday. I had submitted the final draft of the puzzle a week before his car accident, but even though I couldn’t have predicted this would happen when I wrote the puzzle, I’m still sorry for that hint. Crossword puzzles are generally meant to be fun, quiet escapes from life’s troubles and tragedies, and I regret that this clue could have been a stark reminder of one of them, even unintentionally. I had read that the owner of the house that was destroyed in the accident and her pets are alive and physically safe, but the whole situation is very sad.

I hope you enjoy next week’s puzzle, and again, my apologies for the 51D clue. Thanks for reading.