Second debut in two days! Love it, new blood injecting new ideas and thoughts into the NYT crossworld.
I thought I had today's all figured out — plural words changing meaning by injecting an E — but then I got to HOOVER DAMES.
There are multiple HOOVER DAMs?
Ha ha ha, I didn't really think that! Only a complete moron would spend five minutes Googling "multiple Hoover Dams"!
Excuse me while I erase my search history.
The real theme idea is to take singular words and add ES, changing both pronunciation and meaning. Even though I try to avoid politics, something about HOUSE PETES tickled me. And BEAR CUBES made me think of baby bears all pixelated a la "Minecraft." Squee!
FOR THE WINES, BABY SITES, and GUESS NOTES didn't do as much for me — they seemed a bit too much like quasi-real things. I've gone to Napa for the wines, for instance.
Kooky themers are so hard to make universally pleasing.
Man oh man did this mechanical engineer love seeing BERNOULLI in the fill! I can't imagine a lot of non-engineers feeling similarly, but I spent so much time studying the BERNOULLI effect (regarding airspeed and lift) that it brought back good memories.
Man, am I weird.
Also weird: YAREN. I've long held fast that world capitals are fair game. I've maintained that even after getting tripped up by MANAMA, Bahrain. Then again with VADUZ, Licehten … you know, that bizarrely-spelled country. Now with YAREN ... I'm beginning to wonder if I should put a caveat in my steadfastness, especially when it comes to early-week puzzles.
A bit too much crossword glue for my taste in XKE, TO BED, FAS, ONEK, STA, STE, etc. Even STOAT is going to be tough to recognize for some newb solvers. Given the simplicity of the theme — early-weekish in nature — I think a smoother grid would have been more appropriate. As much as I like the color that "parallel downs" bring in ANGIOGRAM and BERNOULLI, I think it would have been better to forgo one of those answers, allowing for some cleanup in the SW and NE.
Overall though, I appreciated that John chose interesting sound changes, like CUB to CUBES. Made me want to search for more that were equally as interesting; a rare occurrence for me.