Theme: Polymorphism — Each theme answer is the definition of a homophone of "poly."
Well, I hope things have settled down here in CrossWorld after the big April Fools' Day shenanigans yesterday. Bloggers on the wrong blogs, commenters making themselves unrecognizable ... and then there was all the yammering on about whipped cream. Stop the madness! Nice to have a solid, not-too-difficult-for-a-Thursday puzzle to contend with this morning. I had some trouble in the Texas area where I hadn't heard of Polly Bergen, wanted scam for SLAY (65A: Knock off), and hint for AURA (62A: Vague quality). Thank God for Nora Roberts. She finally brought clarity to that section like only a romance novelist can. That is to say, coyly, with bare shoulders and super super shiny lipgloss.
Crosswordese 101: Today we're going to talk about AGHA, a word I'd never heard before getting serious about crossword solving. With a clue like today's [Turkish bigwigs], you can bet the answer will be one of three words: AGA, AGHA, or PASHA. Luckily, all three of those words have a different number of letters so you can just plug in the one that fits. Is there a difference between an AGA, an AGHA, and a PASHA. Who cares? I sure don't! I just know they're all clued by taking one word from Group A, one word from Group B, and one word from Group C:
Group A: Old, Former
Group B: Turkish, Ottoman, Muslim, Ankara
Group C: Title, Honorific, Authority, Dignitary, Officer, VIP, Bigwig, Leader
It's like Garanimals: just mix-and-match and you're on your way.
- 18A: Pauly (COMIC SHORE). I'm thinking "comic" is kind of a stretch here.
- 20A: Pauley (UCLA PAVILION). I used to think that to have a building named after you, you had to do something remarkable and then people would want to name the building after you as a tribute to your greatness. Now I know that you just have to have a ton of money and you can make your own tribute to your own greatness.
- 37A: "Paulie" (PARROT MOVIE). Anyone bother to see this flick?
- 54A: Polly (BERGEN OF FILM). Never heard of her despite her prolific career.
- 57A: Poly (TECH SCHOOL). Can't say I've ever thought much about this one. I know they have wrestling at Cal Poly and that's about it.
- 1A: Mark Cuban's NBA team (MAVS). Dallas Mavericks. How did I know this?
- 5A: Some 35mm cameras (SLRS). Single-lens reflex.
- 14A: Oscar-winning director Kazan (ELIA). Future Crosswordese 101 lesson.
- 22A: Words before ghost (SEES A). Ugh.
- 36A: Closing letter at Oxford? (ZED). It's the way they say "zee" (the last letter of the alphabet) in Great Britain.
- 39A: Friend of Fidel (CHE). Has the new Che movie come out yet? I think Benicio del Toro is in it. I heart Benicio del Toro.
- 64A: Philippines' highest peak: Abbr. (MT. APO). If you attended the ACPT this year, it's possible you had several long conversations about this particular peak and it was a gimme for you today.
- 1D: Snaky-haired monster (MEDUSA). Um, I don't think it was "snaky," I think it was snakes.
- 2D: Arlo's favorite restaurant (ALICE'S). A Thanksgiving classic.
- 3D: Part of Roy G. Biv (VIOLET). Roy G. Biv is a mnemonic device used to remember the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
- 26D: Youth (LAD). Cute that this one is crossing 23A: Any Beatle, e.g. (TEEN IDOL).
- 28D: Memo words (IN RE). Latin for "In the matter of," this phrase is used in case citations.
- 32D: Suffix with Capri (-OTE). I guess a Capriote is a person from Capri?
- 33D: Trans-Siberian Railroad city (OMSK). It's not unusual for the temperature to reach 113F in the summer and -49F in the winter. But the average number of sunny days is more than 300 per year.
- 34D: Staff member? (NOTE). The question mark means the answer won't have to do with a person who belongs to some sort of working team, but to something else that "belongs to" a different kind of staff. In this case, it's a music staff and the member is a note of music.
- 46D: Second lightest element (HELIUM). The first lightest is hydrogen.
- 49D: Tempera painting surface (GESSO). Learned it from crosswords. If you're interested, you can read about it here.
- 50D: AEC successor (NRC). The Nuclear Regulatory Commission took over the role of oversight of nuclear energy matters and nuclear safety from the Atomic Energy Commission in 1975.
- 57D: Skye cap (TAM). The Isle of Skye is part of Scotland, where people wear a type of cap (hat) called a tam.
Everything Else — 9A: Volkswagen since 1979 (JETTA); 15A: Amanda of "The Whole Ten Yards" (PEET); 16A: In combat (ATWAR); 17A: Sack dress creator (DIOR); 27A: Columbia River city (ASTORIA); 30A: Cuba libre ingredient (COLA); 31A: Long odds (TENTOONE); 41A: Academic term (SEMESTER); 42A: Mus. key with three sharps (AMAJ); 44A: Wisconsin birthplace of Orson Welles (KENOSHA); 48A: Deli hangings (BOLOGNAS); 53A: Printing gizmo (INKER); 60A: Prefix with -syncratic (IDIO); 61A: Señor's "See ya!" (ADIOS); 63A: Turn bad (SOUR); 66A: "Skip __ Lou": kids' song (TOMY); 4D: City south of Tampa (SARASOTA); 5D: Humane org. (SPCA); 6D: Pope after Benedict IV (LEOV); 7D: Make a payment (REMIT); 8D: Token taker (STILE); 9D: "Juno" director Reitman (JASON); 10D: Kind of food or group (ETHNIC); 11D: Company, so they say (TWO); 12D: Paving material (TAR); 13D: "__ you nuts?" (ARE); 19D: Co. in Paris (CIE); 21D: Kitchen gadgets (PARERS); 24D: Nap (DOZE); 25D: Like the Opry? (OLE); 29D: Tiny power source (ATOM); 35D: Allowing for the possibility that (EVENIF); 37D: Ring loudly (PEAL); 38D: Absolute control, metaphorically (IRONFIST); 39D: Subway alternative (CAB); 40D: Gp. with a co-pay (HMO); 43D: Build a lengthy résumé? (JOBHOP); 45D: Scram (SKIDOO); 47D: Weapons source (ARMORY); 52D: 1988 Olympics city (SEOUL); 56D: "Love the skin you're in" brand (OLAY); 58D: Va. summer hours (EDT); 59D: Cloak-and-dagger org. (CIA).