I pulled out 19A Unusual time to start a vacation: MIDWEEK because that’s what makes it the best time to start a vacation. Flights are cheaper, traffic is less cumbersome, hotels are looking for warm bodies. And you get the weekend after you’ve gotten over the jetlag.
Theme! And as a prominent podcast host asked my wife at the Magic Castle last night while I was wearing my has-Matt suit with two Giant Microbes plush COVID-19s pinned to me, “Has [your husband] ever been in the punlympic games?” this was one that I appreciated, even if some answers were strained or tired.
16A “My allergies are really acting up!”: BLOODYNOSE. 23A “That third strike cost us the game!”: FREAKINGOUT. Such a prescient clue! It’s like the umpires in tonight’s Dodger game did the crossword and were like, “We like Will Shortz more than we like the San Francisco Giants,” which is an understandable conclusion because no matter how terrible Will Shortz is–and it is a lot–the Giants always are worse. So enjoy your extended offseason lolz. 36A “I keep losing things in the dryer!”: DARNSOCKS. 56A “My iPhone never works!”: ROTTENAPPLE. 61A “This bug spray is useless!”: BLASTEDOFF.
I pulled out 25D One who’s not a fan: BOOER because I had had HATER there for a while, and I couldn’t understand how 23A Frozen asteroid or planet was ICEHALL. Turned out it was ICEBALL because HATER was BOOER, and that makes way more sense.
The theme today was a grid-based one?
58A With 59-Across, lakeside activity … or a hint to the words spelled across the fifth, eighth and 11th rows of the completed grid: SKIPPING STONES.
R█O█L█L█I█N█G ROLLING STONE R█O█S█E█T█T█A ROSETTA STONE B█L█A█R█N█E█Y BLARNEY STONE
57A Academy Awards category eliminated in 2021 … or a hint to interpreting four clues in this puzzle: SOUNDMIXING. I had initially guessed that the eliminated category was BESTACTRESS in order to have a single best performer. I thought that would be a dumb idea because why rob someone of a statue? But also why rob a sound mixer of a statue?
I pulled out 36A Blue Angels, e.g.: AEROBATS because first I had partially filled out the answer with AIR because planes and then I realized it was ACROBATS because acrobatic plane stuff. AEROBATS slowed me down. A lot. I had no idea was RYC was for 24D Alternative to white until I realized it was RYE.
I think this is the first theme I’ve really liked in a while.
67A Redacts, as sensitive information (suggested by three of this puzzle’s answers): BLACKSOUT. I figured this out pretty quickly, and that helped me finish the puzzle in about 19 minutes. Then came the error checking.
19A Insomniacs have them: SLEEPLESSNIGHTS. With SSN (social security number) blacked out. 38A Failing spectacularly: GOINGUPINFLAMES. With PIN (personal identification number) blacked out. 59A Members of a wartime skywatching corps: GROUNDOBSERVERS. With DOB (date of birth) blacked out. This one was by far the toughest for me. I mainly struggled to try to figure out what was left to hide beyond SSN and PIN.
I pulled out 9D Famously sleepy animals: KOALAS because I was convinced that it was PANDAS. All pandas do is sleep. And eat. But those things notoriously get in the way of making more pandas! Even if it’s actually for a different reason.
Theme! I now understand it!
1A Christmas classic covered by Bing Crosby and Bob Dylan, among others: BELLS. 6A Kind of gorilla: BACK. 10A Second-best era: AGE. 16D Gift of persuasiveness: TONGUE. 51D Metonym for the movie industry: SCREEN. 71A Symbol of privilege: SPOON. 70A Forks and knives, e.g.: WARE. 69A Attractive older fellow: FOX. 42D Marvel character with metallic skin: SURFER. 1D Simple solution to a big pro: BULLET.
33A With 44-Across, bit of consolation … or a feature of this puzzle’s grid?: SILVER LINING!
I pulled out 29A _ dog: CONEY because when I thought of a coney dog, I thought of this:
I didn’t know people called them coney dogs. But I’m not from New York. Wait, hang on, not coney, Coney! It must be a foodlike item. And I just checked, and it is a hot dog with some stuff on it. Is the stuff chili? Maybe! Is it other things? Maybe! I like my hot dogs with grilled onions and barbecue sauce. Never mustard. I don’t like mustard.
The theme of this puzzle was: How to be annoying while also being lame.
60A On and on … or how to read 18-, 27-, 37- and 51-Across to understand this puzzle’s theme?: ENDLESSLY. Gotta cut off the ends of the answers.
18A Fencer’s cry: (Z)ENGARDE(N). En garde! but extended with rando z and n to make zen garden. Now where did I put my tiny rake? 27A Style of diamond with a flat base: (P)ROSECUT(E). Rose cut with an added p and e.
37A Spot for a dinner plate: (S)TABLEMAT(E). Table mat with rando s and e. 51A Roadside restaurant sign: (W)EATHERE(D). Eat here! sign but with rando w and d.
“kind of vibration in which a body swings backward and forward,” 1650s, from French oscillation and directly from Latin oscillationem (nominative oscillatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of oscillare “to swing,” from oscillum “a swing,” which usually is identified with the oscillum that meant “little face” (literally “little mouth”), a mask of open-mouthed Bacchus hung up in vineyards as a charm (the sense evolution would be via the notion of “swinging in the breeze”); from PIE *os- “mouth” (see oral). Figurative use, in reference to a swinging back and forth (in opinion, attitude, etc.) is by 1798.
The Proto-Indo-European os is the same as in oscular. From Oxford: “Late 18th century from Latin osculum ‘mouth, kiss’ (diminutive of os ‘mouth’) + -ar.”
Just like the rest of the puzzle, the theme was meh.
40A One way to run … or a hint to four geographical intersections found in this grid: CROSSCOUNTRY. Is that really a way to run? I disagree that it is.
21A It comes first in China, but second in the U.S.: SURINAME. The country SURINAME, but the idea is surname. 4D Bad start?: MALI. The country MALI, but the idea is mal. Like malapropism, which is arguably the the theme of today’s crossword. 9A “Not a chance!”: NORWAY. Like no way but with an R. 11D Title character in a classic John Cleese comedy: RWANDA. The John Cleese film is A Fish Called Wanda. Rwanda and Wanda. Lolz! 68A Media exec Robert: NIGER. Bob Iger. I thought it would be AILES, but he’s dead, so that couldn’t be right. After all, Will Shortz is a real stickler for things that are real and make sense. 58D Hippie happening: BENIN. The hippie thing was the Human Be-In.
The Human Be-In 1967
On January 14, 1967, the “Human Be-In” was held in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. This so-called “Gathering of the Tribes” drew more than 20,000 people and came to symbolize the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The Be-In was also a symbol of the growing youth movement. The organizers of the event wanted to bring together people to get involved in what they believed to be disparate movements in the community. They wanted groups from all distinct parts of the community to get more familiar with each other and to see they all had similar mindsets when it came to activism in the community. The counterculture that surfaced at the “Human Be-In” encouraged people to “question authority”.
72A First airline to complete a round-the-world flight: PANAMA. Pan-Am had its first flight around the world in 1947!
Early in 1947 Pan Am was lobbying in Congress to become the focal core of a new exclusive unified airline (Community Company) representing the American Flag round-the-world. Opponents of the Congressional Bill printed a booklet, “The New Monopoly Aviation Bill” stating that the formation of the “Community Company” would eliminate transportation competition and be alien to our nation’s foreign policy. It was stated that the real competition in international air transportation was not between US air carriers but between nations. The US could not regulate that competition, the US could only meet it. International transportation under the American flag stood at a crossroads. Congress defeated the formation of the Community Company. The concept of an exclusive unified airline was dead to everyone except Juan Trippe of Pan American Airlines.
Trippe now considered merging Pan American with TWA or American Airlines. Such a merger would give him US domestic routes in addition to his established international air route superiority. Discussions with Howard Hughes of TWA produced no results. Discussions with Cyrus Rowlett Smith of American Airlines yielded international route additions but Pan Am’s petition for US domestic routing failed.
Trippe put much effort in lobbying his causes with influential friends and associates. To this end, he arranged a gala ceremonial journey round-the-world on one of Pan Am’s newly acquired Lockheed Constellations, the “Clipper America.” This Press Flight would depart New York on June 17, 1947, nine days before the formal inauguration of Pan Am’s (FAM-14/18) round-the-world flight service via Calcutta, India.
I pulled out 39A _ Romeo: ALFA because whenever we see an Alfa Romeo parked while we walk, I point it out and announce to Calah (who is now my wife yay!) that it’s going at the average Alfa speed. You know, because the Alfa Romeo is notorious for being broken.
I pulled out 5A It’s found near a trap: DELT because I didn’t understand it until I was deciding which clue to pull out. Then I realized that it was trap as in the trapezius muscle. Which is near the deltoid muscle.
The theme of this puzzle was fun in a way that any pedant would appreciate.
18A *Sensitive part of the elbow: FUNNYNERVE. 20A *Oft-wished-upon sighting: SHOOTINGMETEOR. 57A *Symbol of Australia: KOALAMARSUPIAL. 63A *Headwear made from jipijapa fibers: ECUADORHAT.
40A What each asterisked clue’s answer does, to correct a misnomer?: CALLSITLIKEITIS.
18A We says funny bone, but it’s a nerve. 20A It’s not actually a star. 57A Koalas aren’t bears. 63A Panama hats aren’t from Panama but from Ecuador.
I think I could rock a Panama Hat. I don’t think I need a Montecristi Superfino, but if someone gave it to me, I’d most certainly wear it.
I pulled out 8D City sieged by Joan of Arc: ORLEANS because I’d initially put ORLANDO and figured maybe it’s like how there’s a city in England that’s been Boston since the 15th century (clearly a retcon), even though the real Boston was founded in the 17th century. About 10 minutes after I had solidified ORLANDO as the only reasonable answer [HEY HERE’S A SPOILER, SO I’M MAKING THE TEXT WHITE SO YOU CAN HIGHLIGHT IT AND SEE IT ONLY IF YOU WANT TO] remembering this past Sunday’s puzzle clue 50D Magic can be seen here [spoiler link], I realized that it was more likely to be ORLEANS because French. You know, like New Orleans but older and in a different country.
The theme of this puzzle was pretty good!
7D Hybrid creature of myth: MERMAID.
17A After the top half of a 7-Down, sophisticated lady: OFTHEWORLD. The upper part of a mermaid (woman) + the answer to this clue (of the world). Woman of the world. 30A Before the bottom half of a 7-Down, tipple and then some: DRINKLIKEA. Tipple (drink alcohol) and then some (drink a lot of alcohol). So drink like a + bottom half a mermaid (fish). Drink like a fish.
42D Hybrid creature of myth: CENTAUR.
45A After the top half of a 42-Down, circles around the block?: HOLECOVERS. Top half of centaur (man) + circles you see while walking around blocks (__hole covers). Manhole covers. 58A Before the bottom half of a 42-Down, keeps arguing after something has been decided: BEATSADEAD. Keeps arguing (beats a dead____) + the bottom half of a centaur (horse). Beats a dead horse.