New York Times, June 6
At first I thought it was a printing snafu. For 59 Across, “Putting in a carton,” it looked like the clue was mistakenly duplicated just below — slightly fuzzy, paler and off-register. But nothing else on the page looked amiss. Then I noticed that 118 Across was crossed out — “Couple-swapping” — and 58 Down, “Untruths,” was printed in calligraphy (sorry, don’t have that font).
And then I looked at the title: “Typecasting.” Of course. It’s all about the fonts.
Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my comprehension, my blog platform does not let me change fonts to replicate some of these clues. But suffice to say that the font was key to each answer.
So “JAIL OR FINE” (23 Across, in all upper-case) is CAPITAL PUNISHMENT; “Perspectives” (37 Across, in italics) are SLANTED VIEWS; “Putting in a carton” (59 Across, with the clue repeated faintly below itself) is SHADOW BOXING; “Wordsmith” (79 Across, in a font that looked like handwriting) is a SCRIPT WRITER; “Birthday cake toppers” (101 Across, in an old-fashioned typewriter font) are ROMAN CANDLES; “Couple-swapping” (118 Across) is STRUCK OUT SWINGING; “Assertion” (16 Down, in heavy type) is a BOLD STATEMENT; and “Untruths” (58 Down, in calligraphy) is GOTHIC FICTION.
I’ll give big points for creativity with this theme, but I’m going to take issue with “Putting in a carton” as a clue for SHADOW BOXING. A shadow box is basically a 3-D frame for displaying memorabilia — it’s far from a “carton,” which to me connotes eggs or copy paper. This is a shadow box.
I’ll make a similar complaint about the ROMAN CANDLES answer. Most people I know put stick candles on birthday cake; if not, they use Arabic numeral candles (i.e. a “2” and an “8” for 28). I’ve never seen anyone use true Roman candles on a cake, though they are available as a gag gift (and I vaguely recall purchasing them for someone …). These are Roman candles. (I’ll also note that the clue’s font looked suspiciously like Courier or Courier New.)
Crazy Terminology of the Animal Kingdom Dept.: If rabbits live in a warren, apparently OTTERS live in a … couch. Who comes up with this stuff? (55 Down, “Warren : rabbits :: couch : _____”)
Triple Word Phrase Dept.: Usually it’s “Tora! Tora! Tora!” after the 1970 movie about Pearl Harbor. Kudos for tripling YADA (88 Down), the “Seinfeld”catchphrase for, well, you know.
Questions or comments? Tweet me @crosswordkathy.