“LET THE GAME BEGIN!” by Neville Fogarty
Grab a pencil, gas up the old iPad– solve the puzzle
“Let the Game Begin!”
Constructor: Neville Fogarty
Theme: Theme answers begin with MONOPOLY squares
- 16A: GO FUND ME – Website where you can raise money for… yourself
- 23A: CHANCE THE RAPPER – Chicago-based hip-hop artist who wrote “Sunday Candy” for his grandmother
- 38A: INCOME TAX REFUND – Reason to celebrate… until you realize that you’ve been giving the government an interest-free loan
- 50A: BOARDWALK EMPIRE – HBO show in which Stephen Graham played Al Capone
- 62A: MONOPOLY – Classic board game whose spaces include the starts of 16-, 23- 38-, and 50-Across
Ben: Straightforward puzzle to start the week. I liked Monopoly when I was a kid, but haven’t played in forever. I was originally surprised there were only four theme answers here, considering how many Monopoly squares there are to choose from, but if you’re strictly using the full names of the squares, there actually aren’t that many — most have AVENUE after them.
Michael: Very straightforward, but not tiresome. Those themers are Right up to date.
Lena: Monopoly memories– I’ll take it. I played a ton of Monopoly as a kid; my mom always had to be the little Scottie dog and she would make it “pee” on all my properties as she walked it around the board. She also always had to buy Marven Gardens– not sure why.
Ben: Bonus theme answer at 66A: Purchases, as a railroad or a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, by the way.
Michael: Wouldn’t call that a bonus themer … or maybe I would … just a little meta-theme shout-out. And why not?
Ben: Some fun long stuff in the fill, like SCAMANDER (31D: Newt who ostensibly wrote “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”). Did you see that J.K. Rowling has written a new in-continuity Harry Potter play? It’s going up in London next year and takes place after the end of the series.
Michael: “Days Without a Harry Potter Reference: 0”
Michael: Since I don’t live inside these HP novels, I totally forgot this character. Needed every cross. He’s familiar, in retrospect. But only vaguely.
Lena: Almost everything I know about HP comes from Wizard People, Dear Reader. I didn’t know SCAMANDER but the newt reference in the clue made –MANDER seem like a good bet.
Ben: And hey, I just noticed that there’s a second Harry Potter reference here, in PEEVE (10D: Really freaking get to, as an annoying ghost haunting your boarding school might).
Ben: Hard swings in animal cuteness, between KITTEN (15A: Best possible present of all time in an unwrapped box) and CORAL (58A: Creatures that can’t move but have sex by constantly and simultaneously ejaculating on a full moon once a year. It’s called “broadcast spawning” and there are videos and they are glorious). I haven’t been brave enough to actually seek out one of those videos.
Michael: “Days Without an Ejaculation Reference: 0”
Lena: Blue Planet – Seas of Life: S1E6 “Coral Seas” and chill?
Ben: This mostly played easy for me, but the NW was surprisingly difficult to solve, between MCM (1A: Early-week hashtag devoted to sharing pics of guys), which I’d never heard of, the two theme answers (which I needed to come back to after uncovering the revealer), and the clue for MAFIA (3D: Soprano’s setting?), which completely fooled me. I was like “STAGE?”
Michael: Exactly. My main comment on this one was that NW corner. Between MCM (?) and –ITIS (!?!?) (19A: The ___ (alternative name for a food coma)) and that weird clue on CLOTH (2D: It’s often worn (in both senses of the word:p)), I was left guessing. I got MAFIA, but don’t like it clued as a “setting.”
Ben: Very clean, which isn’t much of a surprise given the constructor. I don’t actually mind AEIOU, but I do appreciate the clever clue — 32A: Lttrs tkn frm ths cl. I had to work it out in my head to confirm that all five vowels are indeed missing.
Michael: Yeah, that clue was nice. I don’t mind “bad” fill so much when it’s redeemed by fun clues.
Lena: We’ve got EDAM and ITT again, both with pretty vanilla clues compared to last time (41A: Dairy product usually sold in a red wheel of wax) and (8D: “Addams Family” cousin who’s just really long hair with a bowler hat that talks in high squeaks)
Ben: My favourite clue was 7D: Totally straight haha! Why, did my someone say something? for LINEAR, even though it took me forever to parse.
Michael: I don’t get it. Is there some sexuality reference that we’re supposed to infer? Tone of the clue lost me.
Lena: Yeah, I still don’t get it. This clue comes across like nervous babbling to me. Nonsense :p
Ben: Good early-week puzzle. I’m sure the theme’s been done before, but this is a nice rendition of it.
Michael: I resent the heavy clue reliance on crappy CBS sitcoms, Neville. You are not forgiven. (Seriously, that RAJ / J-POP cross might be treacherous for some) (48A: ___ Koothrappali (“The Big Bang Theory” astrophysicist) / 49D: Puffy AmiYumi’s genre).