Eight long theme answers featuring circled hairstyles that are split by a letter:
- 24A: [Series of video games where characters from Nintendo franchises fight in a battle royal] is SUPER SMASH BROS., where the letter S splits up PERM. I can’t tell you how many hours I sunk into playing that game when I was younger.
- 35A: [“The Joy Luck Club” and “White Teeth,” e.g.] is DEBUT NOVELS. BUN split up by T.
- 54A: [Young shepherd of a nursery rhyme] is LITTLE BOY BLUE. BOB split by Y.
- 57A: [Chug] is GULP DOWN. UPDO split by L.
- 93A: [Man from Quezon City] is FILIPINO. FLIP split by I.
- 95A: [1994 greatest hits album that includes “Smooth Operator”] is THE BEST OF SADE. FADE split by S.
- 111A: [Title and subject of a Ruby Blondell book, subtitled “Beauty, Myth, Devastation”] is HELEN OF TROY. FRO split by T. I perused through several sections of this book while writing a clue for it; it looks really fascinating.
- 128A: [App game with matching sweets] is CANDY CRUSH SAGA. SHAG split by S.
If you look at the letters that separate the hairstyles, they spell out the central answer at 75A: [Hair-cutting experts … and what’s spelled out by the letters cutting this puzzle’s hairdos] which is STYLISTS. This is a puzzle element I’ve taken a strong liking to over the years. It’s one thing to take a series of words that just break up the letters of hairstyles, but if the theme can build toward a second layer, then I go for it.
What did you think?