After Word

New York Times, April 4

Was it just me, or were the clues to this puzzle ridiculous hard and/or esoteric? I’m not talking about the theme answers (and bonus question), which were relatively easy. But “Foozle” (18 Down) for ERR? Or “Dickens” (41 Down) for DEUCE? I had to double-check that one. Or “Suffix with boff?” (2 Down) for OLA? “Boffola”? Really? Try “payola” or “Crayola.” Boffola is, as the “Car Talk” guys would say, “Booooooooooo-gus!” Not to mention “Galsworthy’s Mrs. Forsyte” (94 Down) for IRENE … never heard of either of them. I guess it’s good to stretch my brain, but wow.

The theme was in the clues this week — several had asterisks — with a “Bonus question” printed at the top of the page: “What word can follow each half of the answer to each starred clue?” The starred clues weren’t particularly hard, yielding common compound words, and the bonus answer is BOARD.

So “Lure” (98 Across) is DRAWING CARD (“drawing board” and “cardboard”); “Cover-up” (102 Across) is WHITE WASH (“whiteboard” and “washboard”); “Green Bay Packers fan” (72 Across) is CHEESE HEAD (“cheeseboard” and “headboard”); “Tally” (84 Across) is RUNNING SCORE (“running board” and “scoreboard”); “Risking detention” (35 Down) is CUTTING SCHOOL (“cutting board” and “school board”); “Wonder product” (32 Down) is SANDWICH BREAD (“sandwich board” and “cutting board”) … others include: WALL PAPER (23 Across); FLOOR LEADER (25 Across); COLLEGE DRAFT (39 Across); and SWITCHBACK (54 Across).

My quibbles: What’s an END BOARD or a TABLE BOARD? A “Lamp holder” (90 Across) is an END TABLE, yielding END BOARD and TABLE BOARD. The same goes for 34 Across, “Object of superstition” — the answer, BLACK CAT, yields BLACK BOARD and CAT BOARD. What’s a cat board? My cat Phoebe wants to know. And so do I.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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