THEME: Wy to go! — Words for various kinds of thoroughfares are abbreviated in otherwise familiar phrases.
I didn't like this one at all. The theme answers were really hard to parse — I had no idea what the theme even was until I was way, way deep into the puzzle, and when I discovered it, it seemed more annoying than clever. I had the entire puzzle done from NW to SE and couldn't make any sense of the theme answers. Finally had Every Single Letter in DR(ive) TO DISTRACTION, and realized that there must be abbreviations for various kinds of roads in the theme answers. The problem: there's nothing ... clever about the answers. No plays on words. Just ... abbreviations. And there's no consistency. Two of the abbrevs. (RD, ST) are used quite literally, one is used literally but inside a metaphorical expression (HWY), one is used purely metaphorically (AVE), and one (DR) is used as a verb when all the others are nouns. Two appear at the beginning of their phrases, three appear at the end. The whole thing feels pointless and messy.
- 18A: Speed? (burn up the RD)
- 24A: Average Joe? (man on the ST)
- 35A: Badly fluster? (DR to distraction)
- 50A: Excessive charge? (HWY robbery)
- 57A: Way out? (AVE of escape)
Crosswordese 101: Yoko ONO — almost as common as Brian ENO, which is almost as common as ELO. ONO (like ENO) did tons of crazy experimental stuff you've never heard of. She was also married to John Lennon. This means that she can be very easy, or she can be very hard, depending on what kind of clue the editor wants to throw at you. I once posted an album cover that featured her and John naked ("Two Virgins"). Caused an idiotic stir that resulted in my blog's getting flagged for "objectionable content." She is usually clued in relation to John, or "Double Fantasy," the 1980 album she and John did together. But then again, sometimes you see clues like ["Hiroshima Sky Is Always Blue" collaborator] (New York Sun, Dec. 28, 2005). Today's clue, 64A: "Walking on Thin Ice" singer, falls under the "obscure" category for me, so I had to wait to see if the first letter was an "O" or an "E" (as ENO's work often sounds at least as loopy as ONO's).
- 4A: NCAA Mountain West Conf. team (UNLV) — More problems in the N. I wanted REBS (UNLV is the Running REBS). They were the main rivals of Fresno State, and I saw them play many times when I was growing up. Also entertained UTES up there.
- 54A: "Power Lunch" airer (CNBC) — Mmm, "airer" ... love the crossword clue jargon.
- 65A: Colchester's county (ESSEX) — Pure guess that paid off.
- 10D: "Rob Roy" actor (NEESON) — Hey, I guessed the spelling right. For once.
- 2D: The doghouse, so to speak (DISFAVOR) — Good, funny clue
- 28D: Fan-shaped muscle (PEC) — I ... never thought of it that way. Maybe if mine were bigger ...
- 37D: Billy Blanks's fitness program (TAE BO) — Some day, this will be the featured answer in Crosswordese 101.
- 52D: Character-building gps. (YMCAS) — ??? I thought this was going to have something to do with character sets, e.g. ASCII.
- 59D: "Annabel Lee" poet (Poe) — Another hint: if you want to do well at xwords, memorize everything you can about POE. He's $#*!in' everywhere.
See you all next week. PG and Orange have the weekend covered.