Last week, the AV Club offered us some CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN. Subscribe, solve, read on.
“Change We Can Believe In”
Constructor: Patrick Blindauer
Theme: Five rebus squares contain cent-signs that are C in the Across direction and I in the Down direction. Joining them together forms a 7, hinting at a LUCKY PENNY (17A/63A: Phrase suggested by this puzzle’s five symbols, if you connect them with two lines to make a figure).
Ben: I just could not see LUCKY PENNY as the revealer for the life of me, so this played hard. In fact, I finished with an error, though it was unrelated to the theme — I thought AD NAUSEAM (45A: To a sickening degree, in Latin) was spelled with a U, and it didn’t register that the late MCA (39D: Beastie Boys moniker) had somehow changed his last letter.
I like the consistency here, with all five rebus squares being C across and I down. I also like the long answers that Patrick has worked in here — E-COMMERCE (42A: Net sales?) is one of the few E-words that reads as legit to me, and CHILD CARE (11D: Thing we have to pay for once my wife’s sick leave runs out, and I’m *real* happy about it ) and HOLD STILL (34D: Warning before removing someone’s splinter) are both strong entries.
In hindsight this should have clicked faster, but I somehow failed to notice the cent sign formed by black squares in the middle of the grid. Well, actually, I did notice it, but only in that it seemed like a weird grid shape. I should probably try solving these when I’m more awake, huh.
The SW was kind of frustrating for me. DOULA (50D: Member of the birth day party, maybe) meant nothing to me — I guessed it was a Russian nanny — and BUCK as 61A: Simoleon was also confusing.
Loved the clue on SHIA (16A: Advanced P.R. challenge LaBeouf). Common crossword fill ENT is also amusingly clued (9D: Tolkien’s Fangorn, Finglas, Fladrif, Beechbone, Bregalad, or Fimbrethil) — nice.
Nicely balanced grid — a little glue here and there, but it’s all pretty well spread out, and there’s a surprising amount of midlength-to-long fill worked in despite the constraints of grid art and a rebus with locked square locations. Impressive stuff.