This week the Premier Crossword by Frank Longo is called "Turn of Phrase" and a quick glance at the clues is all I needed to know that wackiness is afoot because of the ?-style clues for the long theme answers, and by the time I arrived at the first one I knew exactly what was going on. Frank has taken nine common phrases and "Spooner-fied" them to create new phrases with (mostly) humorous results, like this:
23a - LOUSE OF HORDES (House of Lords) (Parasite infecting big crowds?)
33a - BAT OF PUTTER (pat of butter) (Baseball tool used to tap in a golf ball?)
39a - LEAD OF SPITE (speed of light) (Starring role as a malicious character?)
58a - CLICKS OF SUBS (six of clubs) (Noises made by U-boat control switches?)
68a - SIGN OF LIGHT (line of sight) (Notice displayed in neon?)
80a - SHARE OF PORTS (pair of shorts) (Dessert-wine allotment?)
97a - START OF HONE (heart of stone) (First step in making a razor sharpener?)
105a-LOCKS OF WIFE (walks of life) (Hair favored by a husband?)
120a-HATE OF STEALTH (state of health) (Inability to tolerate furtiveness?)
So that's it - if you enjoy spoonerisms (I do) you probably had fun solving the puzzle and might have had a chuckle or two along the way. If you're not a fan of that particular type of humor you might be left scratching your head wondering what was going on. Since I got the trick early-on I was able to solve most of the long answers with only a few crosswords in place, and that in turn helped me with some of the non-theme fill where I might otherwise have gotten stuck. I have to say that some of the clues are somewhat tortured and I still can't make any sense of "Baseball tool used to tap in a golf ball" > BAT OF PUTTER - that one just doesn't work at all for me. Still, when your creating nonsensical phrases I guess some creative latitude is required and the answer came readily enough, so OK.
Another feature of this puzzle is that the grid seems to have fewer black squares than a typical Premier Crossword, and there fewer three letter words than usual - or so it seems to me. The result is some really nice down answers with 8 or 9 letters, with a minimum of short answers that I would call desperate (but then every puzzle I've ever done has had at least one or two questionable entries that were needed to make the whole thing work).
So, the bottom line on this puzzle for me is that I had fun solving it, I didn't get stuck anywhere because the stuff I didn't know was not a problem because the crosswords were fair, and I learned at least one new word (somehow I never knew that GAINSAY (118a) means "Contradict"), and that's all I ask of a crossword.
A non-musical clue inspired me to sign off with this clip - can you find it?