This week’s AV Club puzzle, COUPLES SWAP, is a real banger… you should subscribe and solve before reading on.
Constructor: Francis Heaney
Theme: The first two letters in each word of a two-word phrase are swapped between the words.
- 17A: BAFFLE WILLS – Confuse the editor of the New York Times crossword and the star of “Concussion”?
- 23A: BEGAN LORRIES – Started building trucks in the U.K.?
- 30A: BAUBLE DOCK – Place to recharge your jewelry?
- 39A: MANGLE SILT – Sloppily rearrange some fine soil?
- 44A: WARD BITCHING – Paternal rants censored from “Leave It to Beaver” episodes?
- 56A: BATTERY PORN – Movies of anodes rubbing sensually against cathodes, e.g.?
Ben: What a lovely puzzle. It took me a while to figure out the theme, and I like both the themers and the base phrases. MANGLE SILT from SINGLE MALT is probably my favourite, but BATTERY PORN from POTTERY BARN comes close, just for the incongruity of the pairing.
Lena: I do love me some spoonerisms. I also love that an error left me with the hilarious DINGLE MART. This puzzle was even fun when I was screwing it up!
Ben: One of the reasons why I enjoy AV Club puzzles so consistently is the long fill. TV EPISODES (11D: Recap subjects), BASKETCASE (12D: Nervous wreck), IN LA-LA LAND (26D: Spaced out), STONE ROSES (27D: “I Wanna Be Adored” band, with “the”)… it’s all fresh and interesting, and it was all challenging to uncover but ultimately satisfying.
The trade-off for six themers plus some long fill is a little crosswordese. But I don’t even care enough to list it — that’s the cost of doing business sometimes. Besides, the only crossing that genuinely gave me trouble was BESO/BMG (although I’ve never heard of TEMPEH, which is apparently 14A: Tofu alternative).
Cute clue for FERRIES (37A: Cushy conveyances across some rivers in The Oregon Trail). However, I am just enough of a pedant to point out that the video game title really should be in quotation marks there.
The usual high-quality cluing throughout. My favourites were 61A: Is too liberal with the horse? (ODS) and 8D: Unlike gummy bears, under Islamic dietary law (HALAL). I’m not really an X-Files fan, but SCULLY (63A: Skeptic of the small screen) is timely given the current revival.
Bonus points to 16A: Abbr. no crossword constructor is ever psyched about using, which had me ready to get annoyed about defensive clue voice until I realized that the answer (VAR) is uncool in clues, not grids.
Really liked this. One of my favourite puzzles this year.