Counting down the days to the ACPT - wish I could be there! It starts tomorrow night.
As a amuse-bouche prior to the main event, today's Thursday puzzle has an unusual kind of tricksy theme. Our constructors have uncovered five two word phrases where each half can be a synonym for the same word. The entry is then clued with that synonym twice.
For example, 16A: Tease / Tease (RIBROAST). I love this sort of thing, showing how peculiarly flexible the English language is. The other examples are equally good: CRAPSHOOT ("Drat!"), POTHEAD (Toilet), GOTCAUGHT (Heard - this one might be the best), and DROPKICK (Quit). It's very cleverly done, and I imagine harder than most themes to accomplish with an algorithm.
|The CREASE - much better clued with hockey than... anything else|
Like yesterday, I noticed cleverness in adjacent cluing. 19A: Word rhymed with "intelligent" in T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" (ELEGANT) sits above 21A: Wasteland (DESERT).
13A: Mar contents (AGUA) comes right before 14A: Mer contents (EAU). Why did it take me so long to get the first one, when the second one went right in? Because of the hidden language switch. "Mar" is a word in English, so I was parsing this as a verb.
The third pair is musical with ERHU and HARP. I'd never come across that first word, but I liked the juxtaposition of the number of strings respectively.
22A: Tricep curls? (ARMHAIR) wins for the most out there C/AP of the year, in my mind. Many people have almost no hair on that part of the arm to begin with, and rarely to the length where it can actually "curl." I get that the word here is being used as a synonym for "hair," but still!
29D: Presale alert? (GOINGONCE) is excellent, on the other hand. Fun stuff there.
PCHELP and TSAPRE added to the strange look of the grid. The former is clearly the sound a nervous person with post nasal drip makes prior to making a public speech. The latter is a rebus for the fourth month of the year inside of half of an African fly. I bet Philbo got that one right off the clue.