Chris Words #51: “Well, I Started Dating a Witch the Week Before Halloween…”

The first of this week’s Halloween-themed puzzles is here — solve it, then read on.


“Well, I Started Dating a Witch the Week Before Halloween…”

Theme: Punny phrases relating to witches

  • 20A: BROOM AT THE TOP – …and she can be so controlling! I feel like I’m not important in her life, because with her, there is plenty of ___.
  • 33A: COVEN PROOF – …and she is ALL about decorating the apartment with empty vials and cobwebs! But when it comes to my mancave, I’ve made sure it’s ___.
  • 40A: WART CRITIC – …and she is always making fun of me of [sic] how I like Harry Potter and other “made-up magic” (her words). She can be a snob, so I sometimes call her the ___.
  • 47A: HEX GIRLFRIEND – …but no matter our rough patches, we’re deeply in love. It’s almost like magic! That’s why she’s my ___.

I don’t have much time today, so this is likely to be short. The theme is a series of puns, which are either to your taste or aren’t. I’m not really a pun person, so these mostly left me cold, though HEX GIRLFRIEND got a smile out of me when I realized what was going on. Side note: for whatever reason, it took me FOREVER to crack any of the theme answers, so the last one was the first I actually filled in.

I like the consistency here, in that there’s always one letter added to the start of the base phrase. I’m not crazy about the clues, some of which are working quite hard for the joke. But ultimately whether you like this or not is going to depend on whether you laugh, which is inherently subjective. Didn’t grab me, though in fairness I’ve never liked Halloween.

I liked the clue for LAMB (1A: Fifth word of Thomas Edison’s first phonograph recording), which taught me something new but was also completely inferrable. Also enjoyed WILD (43A: Twos and one-eyed jacks, sometimes ), BLOODLESS (4D: Descriptor incorrectly applied to the Glorious Revolution) and LUCAS (6D: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” creative consultant George, and that’s it). The last two are nicely snarky in a way I appreciate.

I was confused at first by the clue for CLIP (5A: Magazine insert), as I always thought that clips and magazines were the same things, but a Google search tells me they’re not, so fair enough.

Not so sure about AD INTERIM (35D: For now), which is pretty dry for a 9-letter entry. I think I might like it more if it weren’t surrounded by EDTA MOIA-RONI and TINCT, which is a lot of glue for one section. I didn’t like the clue for ARAB (2D: Jafar, for one) at all while solving, but looking back I actually think it’s fine. I had a couple of errors on crossings (BEIO/MEIR and RIIS/TORII), all of which are the kind of thing you either know or don’t — 3 of the 4 are surnames, and it can be tricky to guess at the spelling for those.

Anyway, the theme didn’t do much for me, but if you like puns you’ll probably get more out of it.

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