Solution to Evan Birnholz’s Aug. 14 crossword, “Hearsay”

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Eight familiar phrases with one-letter words have had these words expanded to a longer word that sounds alike to create wacky phrases:

  • 22A: [“Three-base hit, hmm?”?] is “TRIPLE, EH?” based on Triple-A.
  • 35A: [“I’m not the one who’s going to change directions here!”?] is “NO, YOU TURN” based on No U-Turn.
  • 39A: [Rocker Snider, when educating students at a French school?] is MAITRE DEE based on Maître d‘.
  • 49A: [“How is that affirmative vote supposed to help?”?] is “WHAT CAN AYE DO?” based on “What can I do?
  • 70A: [Garments with pictures of Earl Grey and Darjeeling?] is TEA SHIRTS based on T-shirts.
  • 74A: [Be in debt to the Great White North?] is OWE CANADA based on “O Canada.”
  • 85A: [Like a pirate’s favorite films?] is RATED ARR based on rated R.
  • 95A: [Way of shouting “How could this happen?!” to a group of genetic molecules?] is “WHY, CHROMOSOMES?” based on Y chromosomes.

Take the single-letter words from the base phrases and say them out loud like you do in the theme answers, and you get the revealer 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-theme clues in this puzzle that I need to address, one of which is personal and the other of which is one that I sincerely regret. I’ll start with the former. 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 small homage in the crossword. I wrote more about his influence on me as both a musician and as a friend that you can read at this Twitter thread here.

The second clue requires an apology. ANNE at 51D is clued as [“Six Days Seven Nights” actress Heche]. Although the clue is factually correct, it’s especially horrible timing given Heche’s tragic death on Friday. I had submitted the final draft of the puzzle a week before her car crash, but even though I couldn’t have predicted this would happen when I wrote the puzzle, I am still sorry about that clue. Crosswords are generally supposed to be fun and leisurely escapes from the troubles and tragedies of life, and I regret that this clue may have been a brutal reminder of one of them, even if unintentionally. I had read that the owner of the home that was destroyed in the accident and her pets are alive and physically unharmed, but the whole situation is very sad.

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

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