Here’s POWER PLANT, the Fireball crossword from… uh, last week. Oops. Thanks for bearing with us. Subscribe and solve.
Constructor: Jim Hilger
Theme: Three A’s (representing AAA batteries) are inserted each theme answer.
- 3D: SEATTLE MEN AT COAST – Mariners team enjoying the ocean view?
- 5D: PAUL ALONE SAW EIGHT – Kentucky senator Rand met the associate justices of the Supreme Court without accompaniment?
- 9D: WHEE! A LOAF FOR A TUNE! – Singer’s excited cry when being paid with bread?
- 11D: BATTERIES INCLUDED – Extra feature with some electronics purchases… and a hint to this puzzle’s theme
Ben: For whatever reason, I had no real trouble with the tricky clues on this one. I saw through 1A: Delivery direction (PUSH) immediately, and cut a swath across the puzzle diagonally in short order. 30A: Eyeball with an itch (LEER AT), 67A: Senate rebuke (ET TU), 39D: Lawn tennis court set (AEIOU), 41D: Sporting new shades, perhaps? (DYED)… nothing fooled me. I guess I was just in the right mindset.
Even after getting the revealer and one of the themers, it still took me a while to see the theme. All of the phrases are seriously contrived, but I smiled when I finally saw the WHEEL OF FORTUNE base phrase. AT COAST is a little dodgy, but I think the theme works. (I always thought the phrase was BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, though…?)
The fill is mostly solid — CAJOLER isn’t great, and HENIN and TRANE in the south would have DNF’ed me if I hadn’t figured out the theme, but other than that it’s pretty good. The NW corner is particularly nice, I think, with PAELLA (1D: Classic Valencian entree) and US MAIL (2D: Air bags can’t be sent through it) fitting neatly next to a themer without any issues. I know some people don’t like ALLELE (6D: Gene variation) but I think anything in high school biology has to be fair game.
I just referenced Jasper Fforde in a BZF write-up the other day, and here he is again at 25D with “The EYRE Affair”. His books are great.
I admit the fill could be better in spots, but overall I liked this quite a bit.