This week the Premier Crossword by Frank Longo is titled "Where in the Word?" which, it turns out, reveals a devious theme whereby Frank provides us with a single word as the clue and leaves it up to us to figure out where that word fits in the context of a longer phrase. The correct answers are familar enough to be recognizable on their own merits, plus they give us instructions as to where the clued word fits in, like this:
23a - LACQUERED FINISH
30a - CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
41a - END OF MESSAGE
53a - SOPRANO PART
67a - TRANSPORTATION HUB
85a - SACRED HEART
93a - SEASON OPENER
100a-PIECE OF LEGISLATION
See how it works? The clue word (highlighted in red) fits into its host word as indicated by the whole phrase, so PORT is the HUB (i.e., center) of the word TRANSPORTATION, and so on. I love how that particular answer is also at the HUB of the grid. A couple of the answers are less specific in that they don't specify exactly where the word fits in, just that they are a part, or piece, of the larger word. Not all of the answers roll off the tongue as instantly recognizable phrases (LACQUERED FINISH in particular seems to need a specific context to come up in a conversation) but they are all real things, so fair enough.
The rest of the fill was fairly straight-forward and didn't put up too much resistance, hence my relatively neat completed grid with only one write-over where I impulsively entered ODE to where ODE ON ("___ a Grecian Urn" -6d) was clearly needed. Otherwise it was smooth sailing although, as usual, a few of the proper names needed all of the crosswords to appear (TERI (88d - Actress Hatcher) and RAE (11a - Actress Charlotte), I'm looking at you. The OBAMAS (81a - Malia and Sasha) went right in and it's nice to see them, I think, and they were a big help with the one problematic cross where BASEL (82d - Swiss city on the Rhine) ran through ADALE (89a - Allen-___ ("Robin Hood" narrator) ). Hmm, I just noticed that ROBIN also appears in the grid (17d - Redbreast), so there's a coincidence that probably doesn't mean anything.
Let's see, what else:
- Double Os abound in the twin crossings of DROOL (86d - What hungry wolves do) (that clue had me scratching my head for a while) and HOOF (87d - Ungulate feature) (another head-scratcher for me) with WOOLS (96a - Fuzzy fabrics). It's kind of fun to look at (but I'm easily amused).
- I know that "Interring individuals" are literally BURIERS (58d) but OH MAN (71d - "Holy Cow!") that's an ugly clue and answer pair. Some dog and bone reference would have been less gruesome than a grave-digger reference (not that there's anything wrong with grave-diggers, I would just rather not wee them in the puzzle).
- Do Freshmen still wear BEANIES (72a - Frosh's cap) - that seems like a quaint custom from EONS AGO (45d - A long time in the past)?
- I just saw the clue "Suffix with zillion" (AIRE - 68d) in another puzzle yesterday - have we moved on from the days of millionaires and billionaires to zillionaires already? The concentration of wealth is happening faster than I realized.
- SNOOT (37d - Stuck-up type) is a word I don't hear very often yet it was in another recent puzzle (I do a lot of puzzles) clued something like "Stuff-shirt".
- One more "bleed-over" from a recent NYT puzzle with ESAU (73d - Favorite son of Isaac) making an earlier appearance as "Biblical venison preparer". I did not know either of those factoids about him, but then I'm not a student of the Bible.
- I'm always surprised when a clue like ""Daniel" singer John" ends up being his first name ELTON (29d) - I shouldn't be, but I am.
- Anyone who's not familiar with American slang is going to be puzzled by 126a "Peddled" yielding HAWKED as an answer - they're both terms meaning "sold" or "marketed" but how would you know that?
- "...bug OR A feature?" (109a) still doesn't make a lot of sense to me - is that part of a phrase that I'm supposed to know? Now "...could EAT A horse!" (35d), that's a phrase I know.
- Not to tell Frank Longo how to do his job, but for the clue to 90a ("I'M A (Little Teapot!)") I would have gone this route:
- See you next week. BE NICE TO (7a - Treat kindly) people and they'll be nice to you.