TAKING THE FIFTH
Horace and I were sitting with our niece last night while her parents attended a charity event. The niece is 13 and prone to immerse herself in books or handheld devices so I thought it might be fun to solve the puzzle together. As a group activity, it was moderately successful. The niece made an EFFORT and chimed in on a bunch of clues and was able to TROT out a few answers. ATTA girl!
Today's theme, "Taking the Fifth," plays fast and loose with the fifth letter of the alphabet, but the addition of the "e" sound to well known phrases had some humorous results. I liked IRRESISTIBLEUIE - look at that crazy combo of vowels at the end! - and ATTILATHEHONEY. Horace enjoyed NANNYGOATEE. My least favorite might be THEBIGCHILI. Why is it that anything that reminds one of The Big Chill seems dated and slightly embarrassing?
STERNA is a little too contorted and abstruse as a kickoff clue, especially for a Sunday puzzle, IMHO. Interesting that TAMPA is called The Big Guava. Who knew?
Here are a few clues and answers that I particularly enjoyed:
5D. Is unobliged to (NEEDNOT).
12D. Compact (TREATY).
33D. Unpopular baby name (ADOLF). Funny (ish) :)
67D. Start to practice? (MAL). I thought this one was interesting because it could be both a start to practice and an end to practice.
88D. Picture of health, in brief? (MRI). Ha!
Some trouble spots for me:
59A. Small handful (IMP). I was stuck on the quantity meaning of handful for quite a while.
68A. Do to do (SCALE). I was completely unable to parse this clue. Horace explained it to me after the puzzle was complete.
119A. We were all stumped by 2000s TV hit set in Baltimore (THEWIRE), having never seen a single episode.
97D. French ice cream flavorer (MENTHE). This one should have been easy, but we thought it was a type of person rather than a French word for a flavor. Derp.
7D. Curtain fabric (NINON). This answer generated a number of suggestions from the floor (tulle, sheer, linen), but none that fit with the rest of the puzzle. It continued to stump us after it was filled in. I have never heard of this stuff (see what I did there? :)) But, now I have. Thanks NYTX!
There were some crossword CLICHES here and there, but overall a satisfactory Sunday olio.