Broke the three-minute mark on this one by a few seconds, but I was oddly disappointed that I wasn't even faster — this is the kind of puzzle you break your own speed records on. When your long theme answers are instantly gettable, it's very very easy to move through the grid with great dispatch. Once I got KNOCK KNOCK, I had a sense of what the theme might be, and then BREAKER BREAKER gave it away, and the remaining two theme answers went down instantly. That's a lot of squares to have handed to you on a silver platter. I love that the theme answers are all held together not just by their doubleness, but by their being the "starts" of various phrases.
- 18A: Start of many a corny joke ("KNOCK, KNOCK")
- 27A: Start of a trucker's communication ("BREAKER, BREAKER")
- 49A: Start of a sound man's mike check ("TESTING, TESTING")
- 65A: Start of a newsboy's cry ("EXTRA, EXTRA!")
Crosswordese 101: We are working on keeping a running list of words we have featured in "Crosswordese 101." Right now, we've been going four weeks, and I have already completely lost track of what we've been over. I had to email PuzzleGirl last night and ask her "hey, have we done AXLE/AXEL yet?" She didn't think so. So today — AXLE (56D: Wheel shaft), and how to tell it apart, spelling-wise, from AXEL. These two words are both remarkably common in the grid, and while both are common words, for the longest time, I couldn't tell which was which. Which one is on a car, which in a skater's routine? So I developed this mnemonic — "XL" = Extra Large, which reminds me of manly men which reminds me of cars. Skaters are not "XL" — they have to be nimble and flexible, and bulk would inhibit that. The "XL" in AXLE now screams "cars" to me. No more AXLE/AXEL confusion.
- 35A: Sea World performer (SEAL). Wanted ORCA.
- 67A: City near Sacramento (LODI). Gimme for me, but I grew up in Central California. You see LODI not infrequently in puzzles, sometimes clued as a "wine region."
- 69A: High-performance Camaro (IROC). Handy car model to know. IROCs aren't made any more, but they still appear with some frequency in crosswords. Bygone autos are a staple of the crossword. See also ALERO, EDSEL, etc.
- 30D: Music genre in the 'hood (RAP) / 31D: Jewelry in the 'hood (BLING). It always makes me cringe a bit when crosswords go into "the 'hood." It's like when grannies or white middle class dads try to RAP. Gives me a queasy feeling. If the ladies on "The View" know and use the words and terms popularized by hip-hop culture (e.g. BLING), you can bet they have probably already lost their currency in the so-called 'hood. Actually, I love seeing RAP in the puzzle — I just wish the puzzle itself (i.e. the clues) didn't treat it like a cute curiosity.
- 51D: "You can't get out this way" sign ("NO EXIT"). Awkward clue. Why not just go with the Sartre play? It's famous enough. Or ... well, it's at least as famous as "THE SHACK." I'm just sayin'.
Everything Else — 1A: Good-sized piece of meat (SLAB); 5A: Play-of-color gem (OPAL); 9A: To the left, at sea (APORT); 14A: Volcanic output (LAVA); 15A: White House staffer (AIDE); 16A: Medium for FDR's fireside chats (RADIO); 17A: Sign of things to come (OMEN); 18A: Start of many a corny joke (KNOCKKNOCK); 20A: O'Hara's estate (TARA); 21A: Flavorful (TASTY); 22A: Canadian tribe (CREE); 23A: Neighbor of Swe. (NOR); 25A: Scat singer Fitzgerald (ELLA); 27A: Start of a trucker's communication (BREAKERBREAKER); 34A: Crude in a gusher (OIL); 35A: Sea World performer (SEAL); 36A: Heredity units (GENES); 38A: "Metamorphoses" poet (OVID); 40A: Like milk on the floor (SPILT); 43A: Outside, as a chance (SLIM); 44A: Knot again (RETIE); 46A: Classic grape soda (NEHI); 48A: "Fourscore and seven years __ ..." (AGO); 49A: Start of a sound man's mike check (TESTINGTESTING); 53A: Canc˙n cash (PESO); 54A: Pampering place (SPA); 55A: Manuscript encl. (SASE); 58A: Remove by percolation (LEACH); 61A: Kept from swelling (ICED); 65A: Start of a newsboy's cry (EXTRAEXTRA); 67A: City near Sacramento (LODI); 68A: Jewelry fastener (CLASP); 69A: High-performance Camaro (IROC); 70A: Finished (OVER); 71A: Church belief (TENET); 72A: Bulletin board sticker (TACK); 73A: Monthly expense (RENT); 1D: Opening for a coin (SLOT); 2D: Tibet's Dalai __ (LAMA); 3D: State with conviction (AVER); 4D: Fruit high in potassium (BANANA); 5D: Acorn producers (OAKTREES); 6D: __ colada (PINA); 7D: Big fusses (ADOS); 8D: Hannibal the Cannibal (LECTER); 9D: Genesis craft (ARK); 10D: Breakfast stack (PANCAKES); 11D: Olfactory reception (ODOR); 12D: Pilaf grain (RICE); 13D: Casino gratuity (TOKE); 19D: NASCAR's Petty or Busch (KYLE); 24D: Gives a thumbs-up (OKS); 26D: Fall behind (LAG); 27D: One lacking manners (BOOR); 28D: Fastener for Rosie (RIVET); 29D: Upper crust (ELITE); 30D: Music genre in the 'hood (RAP); 31D: Jewelry in the 'hood (BLING); 32D: China's Zhou __ (ENLAI); 33D: King's tenure (REIGN); 37D: Unhealthful skyline obscurer (SMOG); 39D: Scatter (DISPERSE); 41D: Give permission (LET); 42D: 2007 William P. Young Christian-themed best-seller (THESHACK); 45D: Summer in France (ETE); 47D: AOL, for one (ISP); 50D: Cruise ship stop (ISLE); 51D: "You can't get out this way" sign (NOEXIT); 52D: One whose job is fitting? (TAILOR); 55D: Religious offshoot (SECT); 56D: Wheel shaft (AXLE); 57D: Ollie's sidekick (STAN); 59D: Gillette razor (ATRA); 60D: Gator's cousin (CROC); 62D: Sheltered inlet (COVE); 63D: Garden site in Genesis (EDEN); 64D: Malicious gossip (DIRT); 66D: Suitable (APT).