All-Pro

New York Times crossword April 10 / Constructed by Paula Gamache

Sports fans, beware: This puzzle is not for you. It has NARY (“Not,” 55 Across) a single thing to do with athletics, except for a couple of baseball clues and a golf answer, which I’ll get to later. No, this puzzle is for, well, the word “for” — a synonym of the prefix “pro.”

Constructor Paula Gamache puts a twist on common phrases by inserting the word “for,” such as FORGO COLD TURKEY (“Skip Thanksgiving leftovers?” 23 Across). Others: DO ONE’S FORBIDDING (“Say ‘No,’ ‘Never’ and ‘Uh-uh’?” 30 Across); FORGIVE US THIS DAY (“Plea for immediate absolution?” 47 Across); FORAGE APPROPRIATE (“Like food that’s acceptable to cattle?” 63 Across); PLAY HARD TO FORGET (“Memorable theatrical performance?” 79 Across); GRIN AND FORBEAR IT (“Abstain happily?” 93 Across); and CARRIES A FORTUNE (“Is well-endowed?” 108 Across).

Overall, not a bad theme but kind of … meh. The non-theme clues — especially in the upper-right and lower left corners — gave me the biggest headaches. Took me much longer than it should have.

Disappointed Sports Fans Dept.: The aforementioned baseball clues are 37 Across, “Chacon of the 1960s Mets” — ELIO — and 76 Down, “Giant of old” — OTT, as in Mel. “Driver’s target” is the CUP (41 Down), as any watcher of this weekend’s Masters Tournament can tell you.

Magic Dust Dept.: This puzzle featured both “Kin of fairies” — IMPS (54 Across) — and a plain old “Fairy” — ELF (99 Across). I think the exquisitely delicate and attractive Tinker Bell would take exception to being linked with a homely creature like Dobby the House Elf from Harry Potter.

One Letter Off Dept.: “Kebab go-with” is PILAF (62 Down) while “La Mome ___ (The Little Sparrow)” is PIAF (91 Down), as in French chanteuse Edith.

Thanks for the Laugh Dept.: “Mr. Burns’ teddy bear on ‘The Simpsons'” is BOBO (39 Down), which is a much funnier clue than the only other Bobo reference I know — NYT columnist David Brooks’ book “Bobos in Paradise.”

Getting Old Dept.: When a pop song that I’ve never heard of graces the grid of a Times puzzle, I feel compelled to at least listen to a snippet of it on iTunes. Such was the case with TIK TOK (“2010 chart-topper for Ke$ha,” 12 Down). Didn’t grab me. Maybe it takes more than one listen.

Friendly Reminder Dept.: Taxes are due to the IRS (“Filing org.,” 109 Down) on Friday.

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