Orange here, and I'll have to make this quick because it's late Friday night and I need to look alert tomorrow at the Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament.
Crosswordese 101: I'll be presenting some solving tips to the tournament attendees tomorrow:
- Make a point of learning today's crosswordese—short words with common letters and lots of vowels are used often. Our "Crosswordese 101" lessons are in every post for a reason: those words appear again and again, so you'll do better if you pick them up.
- Look for fill-in-the-blank clues and anything else in your sweet spot. Start with the easy gimmes to get a toehold.
- Work off the answers you have. Read clues for crossing answers. Start with less common letters (X, Z, Q, Y, J, K, V, P, etc.), not the super-common ones like R, S, T, L, N, D, and the vowels.
- When stuck, look for clues specifying a plural, past tense, verb ending, or superlative. Pencil in those S, ED, ING, ER, EST word endings (but beware of sneaky non-S plurals and phrasal verbs like WALKS IN that end in a preposition, not an S).
- The part of speech for the clue and the answer must match. Pay attention to verb tense and number, plural vs. singular nouns, and so on. (Saturday puzzles tend to be rife with intentional muddling of parts of speech. For example, 60A: Yields could mean a verb or a noun; turns out it's the verb ASSENTS here.)
- Do you find yourself concocting an elaborate rationale for why an oddball answer fits the clue? That's the #1 sign you should erase it.
8A: Libyan leader whose name has more than 30 spellings (QADDAFI). So many options when a name is transliterated from Arabic or another language that doesn't use the Roman alphabet. Gaddafi? Khadafy? I'm partial to the Q options. The man has got some nutty sunglasses, that's for sure.
17A: It often has branches (LIBRARY). How many of you tried to get some sort of seven-letter tree in there?
27A: Red Sox pitcher Matsuzaka's nickname (DICE-K). I believe that nickname sounds a lot like his first name, Daisuke.
38A: Manatee relatives (DUGONGS). My in-laws live near the stomping grounds of Florida's manatees, and my brother-in-law just took his kids to swim with the manatees. DUGONGS live along the coasts of the Indian Ocean, unlike the manatees that prefer the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
7D: Deafening silence, e.g. (OXYMORON).
32D: Little dude (LAD). The mismatch between people who say "dude" and those who say "lad" amuses me.
36D: Hardly a free-spirited place? (CASH BAR). Yes, free spirits are a plus.
An Olio of Other Answers:
- Cats and dogs! We have 36A: Jackal or fox (CANID) and 13D: Catty types (FELINES).
- 48A: 1 for H, e.g. (ATNO). At. no. is the abbreviation for atomic number, and 1 is the atomic number of hydrogen. The use of the chemical symbol H signals the abbreviation in the answer, I think. Occasionally a Saturday clue will try to trick us by including chemical symbols that are words or single letters. Don't say you weren't warned...
- 49A: '60s VP (HHH). The initials of Hubert H. Humphrey.
- 33D: Carpentry guide (JIG). As in a jigsaw.
- 35D: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" barony (VULGARIA). I saw the movie once when I was little and remember nothing but a flying car. VULGARIA? Like vulgar-meets-Bulgaria? That's...awkward.
- 37D: Kabul coin (AFGHANI). The people (and the blankets) are Afghans, the coins are afghanis.
- 42D: The Aztecs' Tonatiuh (SUNGOD). Does Norse mythology have a sun god, or is it too cold for them to remember the sun? Wikipedia says yes, the Norse had a sun goddess. I don't know about you, but I've never heard of Tonatiuh. Quetzalcoatl, yes. Tonatiuh, no.
Everything Else — 1A: 2006 Kentucky Derby winner (BARBARO); 15A: Demand too much of (OVERTAX); 16A: Left over (UNEATEN); 18A: Unstoppable (ONAROLL); 19A: Stubbing victim (TOE); 20A: Took down a peg (DEMOTED); 22A: Rosemary's portrayer (MIA); 23A: Letter-bottom letters (ENCL); 25A: 007 wore one (ROLEX); 26A: __ Fein (SINN); 29A: Traffic stopper (RED); 30A: Out of it (DAZED); 31A: Common Yuletide mail (CATALOG); 33A: Teases, in slang (JIVES); 34A: Saxophonist Getz (STAN); 35A: Life in the Yucat·n (VIDA); 41A: "Platoon" actor Willem (DAFOE); 42A: La preceder (SOL); 43A: Prepare to pray (KNEEL); 45A: U.S. Marine Corps E-6 (SSGT); 46A: Power problem (SURGE); 50A: Like Lake Mead (MANMADE); 52A: "Gimme __!": Columbus cheer beginning (ANO); 53A: Ebbing (ABATING); 55A: Reels off (RECITES); 57A: Encountered (RANINTO); 58A: Thankless one (INGRATE); 59A: Magazine revenue source (PRINTAD); 60A: Yields (ASSENTS); 1D: Downed quickly (BOLTED); 2D: Relating to Space Age technology (AVIONIC); 3D: Novel that begins "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" (REBECCA); 4D: Polar outburst? (BRR); 5D: Somewhat (ATAD); 6D: More valuable, as coins (RARER); 8D: Used another's words (QUOTED); 9D: Attach (ANNEX); 10D: Obsolete (DEAD); 11D: Patriotic org. (DAR); 12D: Make a mist of (ATOMIZE); 14D: Like the Aral Sea (INLAND); 21D: Jackie's designer (OLEG); 24D: "I'd rather skip it" (LETSNOT); 26D: Safari destination (SAVANNA); 28D: CBS's Couric (KATIE); 30D: Managed (DIDOK); 38D: Frequent pizza delivery destination (DORM); 39D: Enjoy the sunshine, perhaps (GETATAN); 40D: Big name in slapstick (SENNETT); 41D: Key before E (DSHARP); 44D: Unleashes (LOOSES); 46D: Seasonal temp (SANTA); 47D: Utopias (EDENS); 50D: Spanking new (MINT); 51D: Heart lines: Abbr. (ECGS); 54D: Like the Wizard's heartless visitor (TIN); 56D: Dudgeon (IRE).