This week Frank Longo serves up a tasty salad with a Premier Crossword titled "Mixed Vegetables". If you think the title implies that the long theme answers contain the names of various veggies with the letters all mixed up, you would be right. But wait, there's more! Just to be sure we see the full array of produce in the market basket Frank puts each vegetable in the grid with clues cross-referenced to the theme answers - that's considerate, I think. That means that the grid contains seven theme answers plus an additional six (he doubled up on one) answers related to the theme - that's what I call theme density! Here's the whole enchilada:
23a - TERRACOTTA POT (Many an earthen plant holder) (57a - CARROT)
31a - OUTLET CENTER (Mall with wholesale goods) (108a - LETTUCE)
45a - GROCERY CLERK (Food store worker) (83a - CELERY)
72a - CRASH DIET (Rapid weight-loss option) (49a - RADISH)
84a - METEOR CRATER (Impact depression near Flagstaff) (57a - CARROT)
97a - STRIKE A CHORD (Affect one's emotions) (58a - ARTICHOKE)
110a-FLIPS CHANNELS (Surfs while watching TV) (25a - SPINACH)
If I were inclined to be a picky eater I might complain about there being two servings of carrots instead of a seventh different veggie such as a tomato (yes, I know that is a fruit but I still like it in my salad) to put into my bowl. Frank actually hid a couple of additional choices in the grid with a PEA (27a - Bit in a stew) and (49d - Broccoli) RAAB, which according to Wiki is also know as Rapini. If we add these additional ingredients we have enough vegetables to make V-8, so get out the blender! That sounds like an excellent blend for a REDUCER (85d - One losing weight). Wait, I just noticed yet another theme item hidden in the grid, the EARS at 88a (Corn units) - the cornucopia truly overflows with farmers' market goodness! With different cluing we could have had a DATE (51d - Calendar info) to munch on, too. OK, this is getting out of hand as I just spotted the RICE (18d - Paddy plant) at the top of the grid. Let's wash it all down with a BEER (67d) or perhaps an ALE (71d) and move on.
There were only a couple of head-scratchers for me in the puzzle, the aforementioned RAAB being one, and AINTI ( 37a - "__a woman?": Sojourner Truth). Now I realize that I have to learn a lot more about a very remarkable woman whose very existence has somehow heretofore escaped me. I never heard of LORTAB (7a - Brand of prescription painkiller) either but that somehow seems like a less egregious gap in my knowledge bank.
Apparently Frank Longo couldn't resist inserting at least on groaner in a grid otherwise devoid of puns and wacky answers, so he poses the age-old question, "When is A DOOR not a door?" (11d), and the answer, of course, is grimace-producing, "when it's ajar". I almost wish that I hadn't noticed that - it's not exactly a THIGH (98d - Femur locale)- slapper.
Odds and ends:
- The FBI (66a - DOJ arm) FILE (66d - Folder filler) is neat, I think, and surely not unintentional.
- The entire downtown section of my home town is one big OUTLET CENTER (31a - Mall with wholesale goods) - shoppers come from all over the world to get "bargains" here. It's bizarre.
- Seeing RC COLA (83d) ion the puzzle reminds me that the annual Moxie Festival is happening this weekend in the next town over. Seriously, it's a real thing!
- Seeing ARAB (17d - Qatari, e.g.) sitting directly over MEIR (40d - Israel's Golda) is interesting juxtaposition, in my view anyway.
- I don't believe there is one single modern pop star referenced in the grid - is that even possible?!
- The EDSEL (89a - 1950s Ford) may have been the biggest flop in automotive history but it will live on in crosswords for eternity.
That's all - CUE (53d - Feed lines to) the closing video: