I like this bejewelled grid. When I came to the revealer, CURLINGSTONES (Items guided by brooms in the Winter Olympics ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme), I briefly noticed the circles, but I didn't look closely, and somehow my mind came to the conclusion that the circles would actually represent CURLINGSTONES, and would... maybe... end up scoring somehow? I don't know... as you can see, I didn't fully consider the theme as I was solving. In the end, though, when I reviewed the puzzle, I was impressed by the strength of the theme. I mean, really, there's nothing short of a seven here: Amethyst is a variety of quartz (7); Emerald is a beryl (7.5-8); Sapphire is corundum (9); and everyone knows that diamond is a 10. :)
|photo: HENRI Cartier-Bresson|
The NW was where I ended up today. The clue for UMPS (Home squatters?) stumped me, and the false capital in "Underdog's feats" had me thinking of the cartoon superhero dog, not the more obvious UPSETS. "Kathy with the #1 country hit "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses" (MATTEA) is unknown to me, and STENCILS (Spray-painting tools) was not immediately obvious. I also briefly had "Podium" for "Speaker booster" (PREAMP), which didn't help. Luckily, things came into focus with the crosses, and all's well that ends well.
I liked the clue for GLENNS (Entertainers Miller and Close), and I don't think I ever really considered that Glenn Close's name is one that is more commonly male. I guess I never really think of her as just "Glenn," but always "Glenn Close." Interesting.
One last thing - NOEND is sort of what a Möbius strip has, but isn't it more famously "one side?"