Theme: Tacky Tacky — Theme answers are four different definitions of the word tack.
Hey, gang. I'm so happy to be here today. I got sick, like, two weeks ago with this, I don't know, flu kinda thing. Fever, chills, aches that morphed into a nasty head cold and topped off with two days of migraines. It was awful. Today is the first day I've felt relatively healthy since then. And here's the thing. Ever since I was pregnant with my son — who will turn 10 this year — I have completely lost my ability to multi-task. I mean completely. I need to focus on one thing At. A. Time. And that's even if I'm well! So if I'm sick, I'm pretty much just sick. That's it. There's nothing else going on in my world. I can somehow manage to do the Absolute Bare Minimum of what a mother-type responsible human being has to do in a day — even blogging a puzzle or two since I made a commitment to do that. But it's no fun. And I don't feel like the end product really reflects who I am. It just reflects how pathetic I am when I'm sick. Because, as I mentioned, there's nothing else going on when I'm sick. So yeah. I'm done being sick now. I'm getting back into the swing of things and actually looking forward to puzzling and blogging and ... oh s**t! Where did all this laundry come from?!? Okay, enough about me and my miserable life. Let's get to the puzzle.
Crosswordese 101: I'm gonna have to go with [Ambient music pioneer] Brian ENO for today. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about Mr. Eno because, to be perfectly honest, I don't believe I've ever heard his music, which is most often described in clues as "ambient." I don't really know what that means. In my mind it sounds kind of New Age-y or ... I don't know, weird. That's what I think it probably is. Weird music. Totally showing my ignorance here and truly hope I'm not offending any ambient musicians who might be reading this! But here's what I've learned about him from crossword puzzles. I think of him as a well-rounded musician more than just a performer because he is clued as a "performer," "composer," and "producer." He has worked with David Bowie, U2, and Talking Heads. He had something to do with the band Roxy Music and he had an album titled "Another Green World." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you need to know about Brian Eno.
So, the rest of the puzzle. I happen to know that some people don't really appreciate this type of theme. Me? I like it. I think it's pretty cool that someone can not only think of that many definitions of the same word, but can put them into phrases that have right number of letters to make a symmetrical puzzle. I recall someone explaining recently that they don't like these themes (Joon, was that you?) because the resulting phrases are boring. That there's nothing fun or cool about them. And I get that. I really do. I mean, just take a look at these ...
- 17A: Tack (TEMPORARY STITCH).
- 26A: Tack (CARPET FASTENER).
- 42A: Tack (SAILOR'S HEADING).
- 56A: Tack (STABLE EQUIPMENT).
- 6A: Holy pilgrimage (HADJ). This one was tricky because it can also be spelled haj, which obviously wouldn't fit today, or hajj, which would. Had to check the crosses to be sure.
- 10A: Party invite letters (BYOB). I started out with the perfectly reasonable guess of RSVP. Different kind of party, I guess.
- 22A: In better order (TIDIER). Started here with neater. Again, reasonable. But wrong.
- 25A: D.C. attraction, with "the" (MALL). This is one of those times when too much familiarity is a bad thing. I live here in the D.C. area and could think of about 50 D.C. attractions off the top of my head. None of which had four letters. I finally decided to just skip it and come back to it after I got a cross or two.
- 40A: Catchall abbr. (MISC). Initially entered et al.
- 52A: Cheerless (DRAB). Started out with glum.
- 3D: Pres. Grant's alma mater (USMA). Okay, this is pretty funny. Guess what I entered at first. UCLA. Seriously. UCLA! When was Grant alive again? Oh yeah, 1822—1885. And UCLA? Founded in 1919. So I guess I was a few years off. I crack myself up sometimes.
- 28D: Bunting, for one (FINCH). I was thinking of the baby sleeping bag thing here and not the bird.
- 59A: "We have met the enemy and he is us" speaker (POGO). Okay, again with the cracking up. I'm all "Isn't Pogo a comic strip?" Why yes, PuzzleGirl, it is. "But there must be some famous philosopher or general or something named Pogo that I'm getting confused with the comic strip, right?" Uh no, PuzzleGirl, it's just from the comic strip. Alrighty then.
- 60A: Pivot (SLUE). Looking it up now ... "slue: v. intr 1. To turn about an axis; pivot." Would love to know if any of you knew this word.
- 61A: Language of southern Africa (BANTU). This is one of those that I kinda knew somewhere waaaay back in the cobwebs, but couldn't quite come up with. Knew it ended with "TU," which was confirmed by crosses, but had to wait for the first three letters.
- 1D: Lights out (GITS). Let's just say I'm Googling like crazy and I still don't git it. Someone explain this in the comments, please!
- 13D: Physicist represented in the play "Copenhagen" (BOHR). If you put a gun to my head and told me I had to come up with the name of a physicist I would not be able to do it. No, I don't feel good about that.
- 32A: Artificial being of Jewish folklore (GOLEM). This word came up in a puzzle recently with a strange clue. I can't remember if it was here or in the NYT. But this clue is the definition that I know.
- 33A: Sites in la Méditerranée (ILES). French for islands. The French in the clue indicates that the answer will be French as well.
- 39A: Short cut (BOB). We were talking about the Dorothy Hamill cut the other day. Does that qualify as a bob?
- 41A: Ostracizes (SHUNS). I would really like to see un-shun and re-shun in the puzzle someday.
- 46A: "I have an __!" (IDEA). Me: "I have an ... ache? I have an ... echo? I have an ... oast?!"
- 8D: Like Syrah wine (DRY). Don't know anything about wine, but figured this had to be the answer.
- 9D: "Be right there!" (JUST A SEC). HAha! Did you get this one today, Don G.?
- 11D: Mountain sighting (YETI). Not really though, right?
- 24D: LP's 33 1/3 (RPM). Sometimes it helps to be old. You whipper-snappers out there probably don't even know what this means!
- 27D: Cover story? (ALIBI). I don't know about this question mark. I think the alibi interpretation of "cover story" is just as common as the magazine interpretation, which would mean the question mark is unnecessary. I just realized I haven't included a music video yet today. Let's fix that now.
- 29D: Like a shutout (NO-RUN). Baseball!
- 30D: Southfork surname (EWING). The family name from the old TV series "Dallas." I didn't ever really watch "Dallas," but I loved me some "Knots Landing."
- 41D: Reagan era prog. (SDI). Strategic Defense Initiative, a/k/a "Star Wars."
- 43D: City from which Vasco da Gama sailed (LISBON). Also a small town in Iowa home to All-American, 165-pound, University of Iowa wrestler Ryan Morningstar. Go Hawks! (Sorry. I'll try really hard not to do that again.)
- 45D: Golfer Isao (AOKI). Remember this guy! You will see him again! Trust me!
- 58D: Cops' org. (PBA). Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
Everything Else — 1A: Medicine cabinet item (GAUZE); 14A: Naughty way to live (INSIN); 15A: Beige shade (ECRU); 16A: Ashcroft's predecessor (RENO); 20A: Trade (SWAP); 21A: Exist (ARE); 23A: Physics units (ERGS); 34A: Be in debt to (OWE); 35A: Low-pH substance (ACID); 36A: Elixir (TONIC); 38A: Stumble (TRIP); 47A: Grim film genre (NOIR); 48A: Drapery ornament (TASSEL); 51A: Inquire (ASK); 62A: Reach across (SPAN); 63A: In order (to) (SOAS); 64A: Cotopaxi's range (ANDES); 2D: Once again (ANEW); 4D: Like some change purses (ZIPPERED); 6D: San Simeon castle builder (HEARST); 7D: 160 square rods (ACRE); 8D: Like Syrah wine (DRY); 10D: Horse's headgear (BRIDLE); 12D: Formerly (ONCE); 18D: Fury (RAGE); 19D: Jousts (TILTS); 25D: Landlocked African nation (MALI); 26D: Drink with marshmallows (COCOA); 31D: Weightlifter's stat (REPS); 32D: Yaks (GABS); 36D: Indefatigable (TIRELESS); 37D: Mount in Thessaly (OSSA); 38D: Graham Greene novella, with "The" (THIRDMAN); 40D: Runway VIP (MODEL); 44D: Follows (ENSUES); 48D: An oz. has six (TSPS); 49D: At the summit of (ATOP); 50D: Big account (SAGA); 51D: Color similar to turquoise (AQUA); 53D: Tear (REND); 54D: It gets the pot going (ANTE); 55D: A/C spec sheet units (BTUS); 57D: "Xanadu" band, for short (ELO).