Maybe I've spent too much time recently playing Spelling Bee, but today's theme answers reminded me of the game a little bit (emphasis added for emphasis). Each theme clue contains a phrase in all capitals and each corresponding answer uses all and only the letters in that phrase to form answers that are apt vis-a-vis the original phrase. Apt! Is there a word for this particular ILK of letter permutations? I don't know of one, but maybe an example will enrich my anemic prose: 15A: "Apt phrase that uses just the letters of U.S. CAPITOL (POLITICSASUSUAL). Another one, TRAININGSEMINAR drawn from MASTERING was the most apt. I was less sure about the aptness of GETTINGMARRIED for "GRAND TIME" but I suppose everyone's mileage will vary on that front. :)
I think we can all agree, though, that solving the rest of the puzzle was fun. The clues are well-written and entertaining. Here are some of my favorites:
"Hershey's foiled confection" (KISS)
"Help with a holdup" (ABET)
"Sleep disrupter in a fairy tale" (PEA)
"Mascara target" (LASH)
It was nice to see our old friend EEL again, this time decked out in style with the clue "Sinuous fish." And I enjoy the fact that "Candy heart sentiment" (LUV) is common enough to make it a crossword entry. 💖
The puzzle also showcased some classic clue tricks. There were a few nicely ambiguous clues like "Things you might open with a click" (PENS). "Hitch, say" (KNOT), and my favorite, "Feed the kitty" (ANTE). There was also fun with capitals in "Dolphin's home" (MIAMI) and "Lightning Bolt" (USAIN), not to mention a straight up pair of matching clues that get good marks: "Grade upgrade" (PLUS) and "Grade downgrade" (MINUS).
Fill-wise, I liked TABLELINEN, REALM, and KAPUT. I also like HENCE ("Beginning to a logical conclusion"), but I prefer it as another kind of conclusion in the phrase "get thee"