Chain Reaction, today's puzzle by Pamela Amick Klawitter, has one of those themes that's fun to solve. Blogging it, however, can be difficult...and I'm not sure I've figured out the best way to explain it.
If you had a tough time discerning the theme, you weren't alone. I had a couple of the theme answers...and it still wasn't making much sense to me. Then I had the aha moment...and the puzzle became a joy to solve.
The theme answers:
23A: FOOD COURT __ CIRCUIT BOARD (case closed). I'll explain the chain on this one...even if you hadn't figured it out, it should all mesh. Food court, court case, case closed, closed circuit, circuit board. Pretty brilliant...especially since she picked up the chain with the next theme clue.
25A: CIRCUIT BOARD __ ROOM SERVICE (foot locker).
43A: ROOM SERVICE __ LIGHT TOUCH (road hazard).
55A: LIGHT TOUCH __ BELL PEPPER (screen door).
73A: BELL PEPPER __ BRUSH FIRE (spray paint). This one caused me all kinds of problems. Because of some errors in the downs, I was sure that pepper steak was part of the chain...but steak paint certainly made no sense. The errors...63D: Calyx part (sepal)...why did I have petal?, 64D: They were seen at Black Power meetings (afros)...I don't even want to admit what I had there, but it's a word often seen in crosswords, and 74D: Ball in a basket (yarn)...because I was sure it was steak, I had Keno. Aren't there balls in Keno? Mightn't they go in a basket to mix them? I was getting tired at that point.
82A: BRUSH FIRE __ SMART CAR (Wall Street). Keno threw that one for a bit...as did 83D: Write on a BlackBerry, maybe (text)...not edit, which somehow ended up there.
104A: SMART CAR __ PIANO BAR (pool player).
105A: PIANO BAR __ TRAILHEAD (graph paper)...the first answer to fall, although I didn't understand it for some time.
36D: TRAILHEAD __ COUNTERTOP (Mastercard).
46D: COUNTERTOP __ POST OFFICE (dollar sign). This chain just became obvious to me. I wasn't mentally splitting the compound words in this or the previous two answers. Countertop dollar made no sense, but top dollar does.
I was thrown off briefly by some simple words, clued (appropriately) for Sunday. Among them...1A: Third Crusade siege site (Acre), 34A: Life's partner (times)...not death, 60A: Sylvia Plath poem that begins "I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root" (Elm) and 71A: Long-armed Sumatrans (orangs)...nothing to do with the long arm of the law.
Other difficult areas included 5A: Citadel trainer (plebe)...not cadet, 57A: Pet animal of Salvador Dali (ocelot), 65A: Fabric border (selvage)...I think of that as an end rather than a border, 88A: Bore (caliber)...wrong kind of bore, 9D: Work of prose or poetry (Edda), 15D: Gulf of Guinea capital (Accra), 65D: Like Iran's Ahmadinejad (Shiite), and 70D: Bull or Buck, e.g. (cager).
I was thankful for answers I knew or figured out with a letter or two in place. 22A: Great Lakes salmon (Coho), 30A: Like some sacrifices (supreme), 52A: Cause someone's insomnia, maybe (snore), 58A: Sponge (freeload), 62A: Impassioned (fervent), 84A: Songwriter Carol Bayer __ (Sager), 95A: Tale of a trip to Ithaca (Odyssey), 100A: Julia who starred in "Sabrina," 1995 (Ormond), 110A: Tennessee teammate (Titan)...I'm becoming less sports-impaired, 114A: Some seconds (Veeps), 8D: Mugful (beer), 16D: Alternatives to RCs (Cokes), 34D: Give insider info (tip off), 41D: Vikki who sang "It Must Be Him" (Carr), 47D: Oaxaca gold (oro), 48D: Hanoi holiday (Tet), 75D: "Syriana" actress Amanda (Peet), 98D: Buffalo's county (Erie), and 101D: Button next to a * (Oper).
For some reason, I had Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" going through my head yesterday. I had finally gotten rid of it...then came to 55D: Heavy hitter (sledge). For those of you who want to sing it all day, here it is.
Several French words today...that will irritate some solvers. I didn't take French but could figure out most of them. 37A: __-midi (French time of day) (après), 86A: French word before deux or nous (entre), 115A: Too: Fr. (trop), 93D: Garçon's handout (carte).
Elaine spent yesterday submitting resumes and job applications. Since she no longer has a car (some of you remember that fiasco), I drove her around. But we had some fun...a little bit of shopping, as well as a coffee shop break. We're looking forward to spending a day at home...which includes checking out the Sunday classifieds. As soon as she gets a job, we'll find another car...then she'll be apartment hunting. I know she's anxious to be totally independent...that never happens as quickly as a young adult would like.
Here's the (unchecked) grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.