THEME: Fancy house puns
- 17a. [Faithful caretaker of a religious residence?] is a MANSE BEST FRIEND. This plays on "man's best friend."
- 26a. [Stately home for debate team practice?] is a MANOR OF SPEECH, playing on "manner of speech," which sounds off-kilter to me. Aren't "in a manner of speaking" and "speech mannerism" a good bit more familiar than "manner of speech"? It Googles up OK, but…. (At my high school, the speech team and the debate team were entirely different activities, but the clue still works because the debaters make speeches.)
- 45a. ESTATE OF GRACE, playing on "state of grace" and Princess Grace, is a [Former European princess's elaborate dwelling?]. With the ACE at the end, I tried something-PALACE too.
- 58a. [French castle built with misgivings?] is a CHATEAU OF A DOUBT, punning on "shadow of a doubt." A redoubt is a fort, so I was messed up here.
Amy here, filling in for an under-the-weather PuzzleGirl. I have sent her to bed so she can awake restored to good health, so with any luck you'll have her back in time for the Saturday puzzle.
As for the Friday crossword—hoo-whee, this one knocked me on my tuchis. The first theme entries I filled in were 17a and 45a, so I can be excused for thinking this was an add-an-E theme (MANSE, ESTATE). The pun business threw me for a loop, and it took me 5:19 to finish—basically 25% longer than a typical Saturday L.A. Times crossword. Was it a bloodbath out there for everyone, or did you cotton on to the pun theme without a struggle?
What I liked best:
- 10a. [Bar assistant?] is a PARA, as in a paralegal assisting the lawyers who've been admitted to the bar.
- 14a. ALEE gets a fresh tropical clue: [Like the northern Antilles Islands vis-à-vis the southern ones]. Antigua and St. Kitts are two of the Leeward Islands, sheltered from the prevailing winds. Windward Islands like Martinique and Barbados bear the brunt of the winds. I suspect one group is rainier than the other, but couldn't tell you which is which.
- 16a. ENID, Oklahoma, is a [City named for a Tennyson heroine]. Never knew that trivia tie-in.
- 20a. Clues like this trip up a lot of solvers. [Choose to reject, say?] is an ANTONYM, in that the word "choose" is an opposite of "reject." Dastardly!
- 34a. Sure, AHEAD is a regular word, but Donna splits it into A HEAD, or [Per person]. As in "the benefit costs a hundred bucks a head."
- 41a. We all know the KAZOO, sure, but its synonym, [Vocaphone]? Not so much. I learned something here. I don't know the heavy metal song "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, but this fella's multi-tracked himself playing it on kazoo:
- 51a. [It's used at Gallaudet U.] clues ASL, or American Sign Language. My family and I just started an ASL class. I keep forgetting how to fingerspell the letters F, G, K, Q, and X. Clearly I will need to learn the sign for the F-word because spelling it out will be too tough for me.
- 66a. Clark KENT is a Perry [White underling].
- 3d. Hidden past tense: [Hit the road] clues WENT.
- 4d. Did you know the [FireDome and Fireflite] were DESOTOS, old cars? I did not.
- 5d. [Short nightie] clues BABY-DOLL. Great entry.
- 11d. [Operating room number?] means "stuff that numbs you in the OR": ANESTHESIA.
- 13d. Another obscured past tense: [Put two and two together] clues ADDED.
- 28d. NEW ZEALAND is the [Home of the flightless kakapo] as well as the bloodthirsty KEA, which can fly and will probably swoop in and terrify you. But do not discount the ability of the kakapo to get in some blows! This randy kakapo drew blood from a photographer:
- 29d. FAUST is your literary answer of the day, a [Legendary soul seller].
Over and out. Happy Friday, folks!