Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Wednesday, April 10, 2024, Bill Thompson

Today's theme is sheer sorcery and invokes what you might call spell unbinding. Each theme answer breaks a spell - HEX, CHARM, CURSE, and POX. The letters used to spell the spell appear at the beginning and end of the four corresponding theme answers. For example, when your date orders CHICKENPARM for dinner, suddenly, the CHARM is broken. We've all been there - am I right? I wander how many other such cases are out there. Amulet you tell me. Although, come to think about it, 'jinx' could possibly do the trick. 

And speaking of jinx, according to the Wikipedia, the letter X appears in about 0.15% of English words, but in this grid, if I've done the math correctly, it appears in 2.6% of the words, making today's puzzle Xtra special. 


Some potions of the puzzle I liked included DARENOT for "Be afraid to",  "Canterbury cooktops" (HOBS), and "What macOS is based on" (UNIX) - as an ROI. I was also enchanted by the consecutive answers AIR (Make public) and ERR (Mess up). And who doesn't like the velvet tones of Mel TORME

The one place it took me some time to conjure up an answer was the cross between 44A: "Shepherd formerly of 'The View'" and 42D: "1965 film starring George Segal that was set in a P.O.W. camp." I didn't know either the person or the movie, and in a stroke of bad luck, without realizing it, I had typed an I in the second square of 44A. leaving me with SiERR_ across, and K_NGRAT down. I thought SiERRa might be a person's name but KaNGRAT failed to bewitch me. Taking everything out of both answers and reviewing the clues fixed the evil I, allowing me to see SHERRI and KINGRAT. Tada!

In addition to the theme answers, the longer fill was generally good and interesting - I especially liked HOTMAGENTA, KISMET, and STEALTH - but some of the the three-letter items lacked mojo. And, even though I was happy to see them in the puzzle, EMMAS for "Heroines in novels by Flaubert and Austen" was bedeviled by being an awkward plural. That is not to say that I don't appreciate the wizardry involved in puzzle construction. Having a new puzzle to solve delivered to me every day over the intertubes is magic. 


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