Well, not the most blistering or accurate start to the week, but an interesting start. The five theme answers have a young animal name in the very center: Cub, kit, calf, kid, and colt. It is likely that kit and kid are just two different spellings of the same word, but since we use one for cats and one for goats, I see no problem with having them both. The containers start with the non-Monday like INCUBUS (1A: Night demon), and the slightly specialized dog breed AKITA (8A: Japanese dog), which I mis-remembered as AKIrA. This error should have been remedied by that old crossword darling TET (11D: Vietnamese New Year), but sometimes on a Monday you don't actually read all the clues. Well... I don't. Perhaps you are a more sensible solver. I hope you are. :)
The other three themers are all perfectly fine. Of them all, I like AREYOUKIDDINGME the best. It comes the closest to giving away the hidden word, I guess, since it is not really spread over two words, but still... I like it.
In the fill I enjoyed KIOSK (35A: Stand around the mall?), 54A: King topper (ACE) I really wanted to find a three-letter synonym for "crown," ICEGIANTS (20D: Planets like Neptune and Uranus) (this should please our resident astronomer, Huygens), and HEADY (51D: Intoxicating). Also, I'm pretty sure I read "36D: Fairy tale fiend" as "furry tale fiend," which is funny because it kind of works either way for OGRE. Heh.
I did not particularly enjoy CENSE (19A: Perfume, as in a religious ceremony) or ACU (62D: Prefix with pressure or puncture), and the ascetic and the divinity (FAKIR and DEVA) might be a little non-Mondayish, but those crosses seemed entirely fair.
Overall, it played a tad tricky for a Monday, but I liked the theme.
I'm not sure that AREYOUKIDDINGME hides the animal at all, but it didn't really bother me. And I'm impressed by including YOUNG / ATHEART on the bottom of the grid.
KIDDING is a staple of goat puns. And yeah, not quite as subtle as would be ideal but AREYOUKIDDINGME is a nice pithy answer in other ways.ReplyDelete
YOUNG / ATHEART is a nice revealer, and does work the expected way (the circles are exactly centered in each answer and thus are at its "heart")