THEME: RED (59D: The starts of the puzzle's three longest answers are shades of it)
Good morning. I have to blaze through this write-up today because ... well, this is what happens when I try to have a social life. Wife and I went out last night for the first time in what felt like forever. We got to cook and hang out with other people and socialize and drink wine ... like real human beings. It was nice. Sadly, by the time we got home it was (our) bedtime, which meant that I didn't get to my other blog until about 8am, and now I have just 20 minutes until my write-up for this blog is due (we try to be up by 7am PDT at the latest). And now I've spent much of what little time I have telling you why I have very little time. Brilliant.
I liked this puzzle just fine. It's got a very thin theme, covering only 38 squares in the grid (three main answers plus the RED in the SE corner). Nothing fancy or shocking here, though CHERRY GARCIA is a very nice and fresh-feeling theme answer (51A: Ice cream flavor honoring a Grateful Dead icon). CARDINAL SINS (20A: Lust, gluttony, greed, etc.) and CRIMSON TIDE (34A: Alabama team nickname) are less sparkly, but they're not bad either. Nice that all the answers begin with "C." Added consistency. I think of "DEADLY" as going with "SINS" and "CARDINAL" as going with "VIRTUES," but that may be because I don't really think of either that often.
Crosswordese 101: BABA (10A: Rum-soaked cake) — I learned about this food item from crosswords. Before crosswords, the only BABA I knew was BABA WAWA (Radner's parody of Barbara Walters from early "SNL") and "BABA O'Riley" by The Who. Oh, also ALI BABA, and BABA ganoush. Anyway, this cake is also sometimes clued via its fuller name, BABA au rhum. I've never tasted it. I'm not a rum fan, unless said rum is in my mojito.
- 1A: Momma's mate (Poppa) — I mysteriously spelled this PAPPA and wondered why I wasn't getting Mr. Smiley Pencil when I was finished (that's what happens when you solve in Across Lite.
- 16A: Like a happy dog's tail (awag) — Eeks ygrek and zed, this is horrible.
- 46A: "The Virginian" actor Joel, 1946 (McCrae)— Hheard of him, but couldn't pick him out of a line-up. "The Virginian" (the book) was written by OWEN WISTER. I'm sure you will need to know that someday, which is why I'm telling you now.
- 35D: Comic book artist (inker) — Yay for technical comic book terms.
- 4D: Tool in a haystack (pitchfork) — The weapon of choice for angry mobs throughout history.
- 36D: House that sucks you dry, so to speak (money pit) — Love the "so to speak" part of the clue. "Oh ... so ... not literally?" I want to see the horror movie that involves a house that literally sucks you dry (of blood, I mean ... ).
See you Friday.
Everything Else — 1A: Momma's mate (POPPA); 6A: Staircase part (STEP); 10A: Rum-soaked cake (BABA); 14A: Foundation (BASIS); 15A: Ark builder (NOAH); 16A: Like a happy dog's tail (AWAG); 17A: Funny sketches (SKITS); 18A: About, in legal memos (INRE); 19A: Lee seen in freezers (SARA); 20A: Lust, gluttony, greed, etc. (CARDINALSINS); 23A: "Charlotte's Web" author (EBWHITE); 26A: Multi-room accommodations (SUITES); 27A: Toy (with) (TRIFLE); 28A: Brush fire operation, briefly (EVAC); 30A: Fed. stipend (SSI); 31A: Roughly (ORSO); 32A: Show proof of (EVINCE); 34A: Alabama team nickname (CRIMSONTIDE); 38A: Raps on the door (KNOCKS); 39A: Old wives' tale (MYTH); 42A: __ kwon do (TAE); 45A: Leg joint (KNEE); 46A: "The Virginian" actor Joel, 1946 (MCCREA); 48A: You might have to pay one to get cash (ATMFEE); 50A: Malady (AILMENT); 51A: Ice cream flavor honoring a Grateful Dead icon (CHERRYGARCIA); 54A: Matador's opponent (TORO); 55A: Quarterback's throw (PASS); 56A: Singing group (CHOIR); 60A: "Sign me up!" (IMIN); 61A: "Editorially speaking," in e-mail (IMHO); 62A: Multitude (HORDE); 63A: Boston NBAer, briefly (CELT); 64A: High schooler (TEEN); 65A: Discontinued (ENDED); 1D: "Bill Nye the Science Guy" airer (PBS); 2D: Strong wood (OAK); 3D: Trident-shaped Greek letter (PSI); 4D: Tool in a haystack (PITCHFORK); 5D: Attack vigorously (ASSAIL); 6D: Like many a nasty remark (SNIDE); 7D: Author Morrison (TONI); 8D: Make, as a living (EARN); 9D: Bird served "under glass" (PHEASANT); 10D: Lowest 56-Across members (BASSI); 11D: Anticipates (AWAITS); 12D: Noble's partner (BARNES); 13D: Tennis great Andre (AGASSI); 21D: 66, e.g.: Abbr. (RTE); 22D: Soap star Susan (LUCCI); 23D: DDE's WWII command (ETO); 24D: "It's freezing!" (BRR); 25D: Madison is its cap. (WISC); 28D: Draw forth (EVOKE); 29D: Rouge and blanc, on la carte (VINS); 32D: Opal suffix (ESCE); 33D: Johnny Carson's sidekick (EDMCMAHON); 35D: Comic book artist (INKER); 36D: House that sucks you dry, so to speak (MONEYPIT); 37D: BrontÎ heroine (EYRE); 40D: Coffee break time (TEN); 41D: Chapeau (HAT); 42D: Stratagem (TACTIC); 43D: Where telecommuters work (ATHOME); 44D: "Bam!" chef (EMERIL); 46D: Karaoke singer's need, for short (MIC); 47D: Overused expression (CLICHE); 49D: Foremost part (FRONT); 50D: Heated crime? (ARSON); 52D: Sports contest (GAME); 53D: Tennis star for whom a stadium is named (ASHE); 57D: Old California fort (ORD); 58D: Suffix with chlor- (IDE); 59D: The starts of this puzzle's three longest answers are shades of it (RED).