Hi everyone! Glad to be back for another week of blogging, after two excellent weeks from my esteemed co-bloggers, Horace and Frannie. I've also joined into the Boswords Spring Themeless league, and after two puzzles, I'm glad to have chosen to be in the "Choppy" group. Seems like the right degree of difficulty for the first time around.
Today's Sunday puzzle is a debut for Ms. Watts, in collaboration with longtime constructor and fellow blogger Mr. Chen (his site is linked on the sidebar at XWord Info), and it's a doozy. The theme is a thing of enjoyment and genius, in my opinion. We've often seen themes which use words that are homonyms for the plurals of individual letters. But today, we are given as clues, words with letters missing. The answer is then a phrase where the homonym for those missing letters are put with a synonym for removal and a synonym for the original clue word. Boy, that's a mouthful to explain! Let's do it with examples.
23A: ILLUS_RA_ORS is STRIPTEASEARTISTS, because they've stripped the Ts from the synonym for artists, illustrators.
EASEOFFTHEGASPEDAL explains ACC_L_RATOR, because the Es are gone.
I love how as we move through the puzzle, the complexity increases. After the third theme answer, the remaining four have two different letters removed. The toughest was 113A: _OTIC_ (WITHOUTANYWARNING), simply because figuring out the original clue word, "notice", was a challenge.
The grid is set up so that no down answer goes through more than two theme answers, which makes for a sort of flat looking puzzle, where all of the longest answers are in the acrosses, with the exception of two in the NE and SW corners respectively. There are also a ton of 3-letter down answers, which means a lot of ATT UTA RVS ENE STN, etc.
But we also get the entirety of BEAARTHUR's name, as well as DEARSANTA, and SNEAKPEAK. Some fun clues include 60A: Post production? (CEREALS) and 37A: Some bad sentences (RUNONS). Also tricky was 48A: A as in Arles (UNE). Slightly blue was 14D: A chest often has a large one (HASP). Although if you have a large one, you typically have another large one as well.
Well, too bad. You've got me all week. Or maybe not! Tune in tomorrow to see.