SEALED WITH A KISS
Since last we spoke, faithful readers, I've started solving the later puzzles of the week en famille, as the French foppishly put it. The older daughter was already into solving crossword puzzles, but now the younger has gotten hooked enough that we just purchased her a year's subscription to the NYT crossword as a birthday present. Maybe the next time the ACPT is held in person, we'll all be there!
In any case, happy Valentine's day for those of you who celebrate it. Today's puzzle is a clever take on the theme. On the iPad app, eight squares were outlined in red (in the print version, I think the entire square was red). These squares were rebuses, of the form RED_, where the last letter was different in each place. Thus, 1A: Percussion instrument in a marching band (SNA[REDR]UM).
I was confused at first. There was clearly a rebus effect in place, but the simple answer I wanted, putting "red" into the square didn't work. Eventually, Hope and I figured it out. What's particularly clever, besides the fact that each rebus is unique, is that the extra letters of the rebuses spell out "ruby lips," the "sealed with a kiss" image. Very nice.
My favorite rebus answer is 105D: Ones with plenty of reservations (MAIT[REDS]). That's a great clue, and I love the split of the rebus across the two words. I guess I would have preferred not to have the red squares, forcing us to figure out where the rebuses landed in the grid. Once we got the first two, I knew mostly what was in all the other red squares, which took some of the fun out of it.
|CECIL and friends|
On the other hand, the rest of the puzzle was NOSLOUCH in its own right. First off, it is a pangram (with 3 Qs in the NE corner). There was some blue material (of a sort), with the two -sexual clues (PAN and AMBI), as well as ARSES and, well, maybe BUSHTIT, if you squint a little. There were the geographic trivia questions, with PAPEETE, SANAA, and CAIRO.
And a few tricksy clues as well. My favorite of the day is 66A: Place with robes and sweaters (SAUNA). I love the lack of a question mark here, although I would think by the standard approach the NYT usually takes, that this clue deserves one. I also very much liked 92D: What ponies express? (NEIGHS).
Nice start to the week.
PS - Now that I think about it, I get that the "rebus" can be filled in with only the last letter, with the "red" understood by the shading of the square. That's much better!