THEME: In Like KIN — "KIN" is added to ends of words in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
This would have made a very adequate Monday puzzle. Maybe a Tuesday puzzle. But there is no way this very very easy puzzle has any business appearing on any other day of the week, esp. today, Friday, when the puzzle should have the most bite. There now appears to be a complete lack of difficulty gradation in the LAT puzzles, and it's disgraceful. It was bad enough when I was hammering out the late-week puzzles in 5-6 minutes. But I did this one in 3:03. That's three minutes and three seconds. Orange broke the three minute barrier. Solvers deserve more of a workout this late in the week. The week should build to a challenge, or at least a good workout. Again, to repeat, there is nothing wrong with this puzzle. It would be right at home as the first puzzle of the week. The theme answers are all colorful and cute. But Friday puzzles should be made of different, stronger stuff. I guess if the syndicated audience really wants breezy puzzles every single day, there's not much to be done, but dear god, there has to be some happy median between a bruising NYT late-week puzzle and ... well, this. Put some bite back in the late-week puzzles, Please, Rich, someone, I'm begging you.
- 17A: Gear up for Halloween (PRIME THE PUMPKIN)
- 38A: Yokel resting in the woods? (BUMPKIN ON A LOG) — I just instinctively typed "YOKEL ON A LOG," HA ha.
- 60A: Steals the dinner cloth from Garfield's lap? (TAKES A CAT NAPKIN)
Crosswordese 101: SLUES (29A: Swings around) — I probably knew this word before I started doing crossword puzzles seriously, but it didn't sink in until I tripped over it several times, in several different grids. It's really an ugly word, and I always want to spell it SLEW (which is apparently an acceptable variant — who knew?). SLUES sounds like SLUICE, which I associate with unwanted fluids, which, again ... ugly. SLUE seems to be primarily a nautical term — "o turn about; to turn from the course; to slip or slide and turn from an expected or desired course; -- often followed by round" (answers.com). See also SLOUGH ... another seriously unpleasant word.
More on Monday.
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Everything Else — 1A: Held (on) by stitches (SEWN); 5A: Cavalry weapon (LANCE); 10A: Farm females (EWES); 14A: Multinational official currency (EURO); 15A: Starting unit (A TEAM); 16A: Retail come-on (SALE); 17A: Gear up for Halloween? (PRIME THE PUMPKIN); 20A: Heart-to-heart talk (T&Ecir;TE-À-T&Ecir;TE); 21A: Hurricane feature (EYE); 22A: Maui strings (UKE); 23A: Pin near the gutter (TEN); 24A: Per se (AS SUCH); 27A: "Frankenstein" author Shelley (MARY); 29A: Swings around (SLUES); 32A: Mahmoud Abbas's gp. (PLO); 33A: Navy ship letters (USS); 36A: How ballerinas dance (ON TIPTOE); 38A: Yokel resting in the woods? (BUMPKIN ON A LOG); 41A: Split up (SEPARATE); 42A: "I figured it out!" ("AHA!"); 43A: Withdrawal site, for short (ATM); 44A: Arcade games trailblazer (ATARI); 46A: Univ. sports organizer (NCAA); 50A: Any one of Cinderella's stepfamily, e.g. (MEANIE); 52A: Expert on IRS forms (CPA); 55A: Fest mo. (OCT.); 56A: Wood of the Rolling Stones (RON); 57A: Enter stealthily (SNEAK INTO); 60A: Steals the dinner cloth from Garfield's lap? (TAKES A CAT NAPKIN); 63A: Rink jump (AXEL); 64A: Husband and wife (MATES); 65A: Ballesteros of the PGA (SEVE); 66A: Queens team (METS); 67A: Dental filling (INLAY); 68A: Poetic tributes (ODES); 1D: Facial wall that may be deviated (SEPTUM); 2D: "Bingo!" ("EUREKA!"); 3D: Columnist, e.g. (WRITER); 4D: Alaskan gold-rush town (NOME); 5D: Cappuccino cousin (LATTE); 6D: Capital north of the Sea of Crete (ATHENS); 7D: Big name in hair-removal cream (NEET); 8D: Batman accessory (CAPE); 9D: Big bird (EMU); 10D: Annual sports awards (ESPYS); 11D: Be roused from sleep by, as music (WAKE UP TO); 12D: Yale Blue wearer (ELI); 13D: D.C. bigwig (SEN.); 18D: Put away (EAT); 19D: Handel oratorio (MESSIAH); 24D: Health insurance giant (AETNA); 25D: Roto-Rooter target (CLOG); 26D: Weeding tool (HOE); 28D: Arizona city on the Colorado River (YUMA); 30D: Soloist? (LONER); 31D: Game with Skip cards (UNO); 34D: Wrist twists, e.g. (SPRAINS); 35D: Boot with a blade (SKATE); 37D: Blueprint (PLAN); 38D: __ noire: bane (BETE); 39D: High-end, as merchandise (UPMARKET); 40D: "Give __ rest!" (IT A); 41D: Friend of Frodo (SAM); 45D: Summer drink with a lemon twist, maybe (ICE TEA); 47D: Bopped on the bean (CONKED); 48D: On the go (ACTIVE); 49D: Does penance (ATONES); 51D: Holiday melodies (NOELS); 53D: Cultivated violet (PANSY); 54D: Rap sheet letters (AKA); 57D: Read the bar code on (SCAN); 58D: Part of N.L.: Abbr. (NATL.); 59D: __ facto (IPSO); 60D: Skye cap (TAM); 61D: Dismiss, informally (AXE); 62D: Pal of Pierre (AMI).