LOOK WHAT TURNED UP!
Well, it was going to happen sooner or later. I was going to have to review a puzzle by someone I met at the ACPT. Mr. Chen was a friendly, likable guy, and what's more, he's now linking to our blog on his own site, xwordinfo.com. How could I possibly give one of his puzzles a bad review? Well, luckily for me, I don't have to face that problem today. This puzzle was a rare Sunday treat - a fun theme, with interesting, non-stale fill. Let's get right to it.
First of all, the theme. Well, let me say one more thing about the ACPT... I was so intent on finishing the puzzles, that I never looked at any of the titles. If I had looked at the title of Mr. Chen's "Puzzle #5," I'm pretty sure I could have figured out the theme in time to salvage a lot more of my score. Today, I read the title and was expecting pretty much just what happened. Frannie's always asking me what the title is (even during the weekdays!) because, I guess, she's one of those people who likes to read the directions before filling in a test. I should take a lesson.
So anyway, we have several Down answers that double back on themselves to complete the answer. As in 2D: Postcard message (WISHYOUWEREH/ERE), and 59D: Wins (TAKESTHETOPS/POT). Very nice. It looks to me like all seven theme answers turn up to use three of the letters over again. They're all symmetrical, and they are all pretty normal phrases. I usually say "On a scale of one to ten," but ONASCALEFROMONETO/TEN (22D: How things may be rated) is perfectly fine, I guess. That's the only one I really have any problem with, and it may just be a regional dialect thing. Or just my own ERROR. The others are perfectly fine.
Second, the fill, in which we find such beauties as LALALAND (83D: Dreamland), GUTBOMBS (21A: Hard-to-digest food items, in slang), and GOTOTOWN (116A: Do something extravagantly). Those are all fantastic. I also enjoyed BATPHONE (4D: Line in Gotham), ECOTAGE (104A: Environmental terrorism), OEUVRE (16A: The works?), SPRAT (58A: Big name in lean dieting) (heh), FARMBOY (74A: Young Clark Kent, e.g.), and REPLETE (60A: Stuffed), just because I like the word.
Sure, there were a few boring bits - ACAI, AGER, STALER... - but overall this was a very good Sunday. No complaints. You keep bringing your AGAME, Mr. Chen, and I can keep giving GRADEA reviews. That way, everybody's happy.