“THEMELESS 92” by Peter Gordon
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Constructor: Peter Gordon
Ben: Shall we talk about the elephant in the room? PYRZQXGL (62A: Word in the Land of Oz with the power to transform people and objects, for those who know how to pronounce it) is the mother of all trivia answers — either you know it or you don’t, and aside from knowing it’s probably got high-value Scrabble letters, it’s not inferrable at all. All the crosses are fair, so I actually think it’s fine, but I’m sure it’ll rub some solvers the wrong way.
Lena: Yeahno. I think overall the crosses were fair there, but I couldn’t have cared less about what 62A turned out to be. It’s the same feeling I have about those damned Roman numerals– I lose the will to solve. Also contributing to my Southeastern apathy was the unsatisfying ONE TO ONE (60A: Corresponding element by element)– the clue just doesn’t add up to the answer imo.
Ben: I got Naticked on Lech WALESA crossing ACTA — it was clearly a vowel, but I guesed O. That’s a knowledge gap on my part, I suspect — according to Google, WALESA is probably a name I should know.
Lena: I have no recollection of how I made it out of that cross– my boyfriend probably did it for me.
Ben: Some good entries. I liked CELL WALL (15A: Mycoplasma’s lack), MAGIC BUS (57A: Song by the Who that begins “Ev’ry day I get in the queue”) and GAS PEDAL. I’ve never heard of an ANTIPOLE (12D: Direct opposite) but it’s a cool word to learn. Could have done without a musical key (E MINOR) on top of a singer I don’t know (Tom LINTON) on top of a musical I don’t know (CANDIDE) — the whole puzzle played hard for me, but it came together in the end.
Lena: I like the 3-consonant stretch in LAMBVINDALOO. I also enjoyed CELL WALL, and the fact that (39A: Some rhizopods), AMOEBAS, also lack them. (35D: Throw) for UNSADDLE was just mean. So was GULL (34A: Dupe).
Ben: Really liked the clue on GOOD BOOK (13D: Numbers can be found in it, familiarly) — completely fair, but I was stuck trying to parse it for a while. I would probably have clued HOV LANE to the Nicki Minaj song, but it’s a good entry nonetheless.
(NSFW, as if you need to be told.)
Ben: Challenging but satisfying. Also, I laughed at PANGRAM (6D: This crossword is an example of one) when I realised that it’s only true because of the Y, Z and Q in PYRZQXGL. In fact, I might have removed the X from the SW to make that joke hit a little harder.
Lena: Excellent point. Overall I found this puzzle to be a typical Peter Gordon themeless, which means I enjoyed it a lot!