THEME: The Saturday puzzle is themeless—the game is decoding tougher clues and figuring out a slew of longer words and phrases. This one's grid is notable for having four 7x4 corners, which you don't see too often. The three-letter word count is remarkably low, too—just four of 'em.
Good gravy, this puzzle was easier than I was expecting. One of the quickest themeless Saturday experiences I've had, in fact. Not all the answers were obvious, no, but the crossings coaxed me through any trouble spot.
Crosswordese 101: Today's premier crosswordese answer is 16A: Lou's "La Bamba" costar, ESAI Morales. More recently (2001-04), he played the 15th precinct's boss, Lt. Rodriguez, on NYPD Blue. According to his IMDb page, he was also the voice of Papi on five episodes of Dora the Explorer.
Among the more difficult stuff to grapple with:
- 10A: Bind (FIX). They're usually verbs, yes, but here they're nouns, as in "I'm in a real bind."
- 19A: Love and war, to some (ARTS). The art of love, the art of war.
- 22A: PGA Champions Tour standout Jay (HAAS). Tennis has a Tommy Haas, who's the only Haas I know. Not know personally, mind you.
- 24A: Shakespeare contemporary George (PEELE). I think I learned this name from other crosswords.
- 41A: One might keep you from going out (SNORER). I don't know about you, but I never use "going out" to mean "sleep." Maybe "go out like a light," but not the shorter phrase.
- 45A: California's Highway 1, for one (COAST ROAD). Do Californians call things "coast roads"? I haven't heard that term, but then, I don't live within 500 miles of an ocean.
- 10D: Lead (BE AHEAD). The "be" in that answer feels misplaced, like it doesn't belong as part of a crossword answer. In the grid, it looks for all the world like BEA HEAD, which would be a fine name for a member of the late Bea Arthur's fan club.
- 11D: Begin, e.g. (ISRAELI). Ooh, this is my favorite clue. Looks like a verb, but it's a proper noun—Menachem Begin.
- 45D: Dried cocount meat (COPRA). Not to be confused with Frank Capra or the Copacabana:
What did I like most in this puzzle? This:
- 20A: Like some dads (STAY-AT-HOME). Terrific, colloquial answer.
- 28A: Nutritional regimen since the 1970s (ATKINS DIET). See above.
- 31A: Ich liebe dich : German :: ___ : Spanish (TE AMO). A college classmate of mine made some sweet thing for his girlfriend that included that phrase. I had studied crosswordese more than Spanish, and regular solvers know the amo, amas, amat conjugation of "love"—so I assumed he was writing sweet nothings in Latin. Um, no.
- 32A: Prince classic (PURPLE RAIN). There are certainly other tunes that fit the clue. If you've seen the movie Purple Rain, you might get a giggle out of this parody:
- 40D: 2007 A.L. batting champ Magglio (ORDONEZ). He's Venezuelan and I love his name.
That's all for today. PuzzleGirl's got you covered tomorrow and Tuesday, Rex will be here Monday, and I'll be back on Wednesday.
Everything Else — 1A: Journalist Kupcinet et al. (IRVS); 5A: Take by force (WREST); 14A: Word repeated before "Born is the king of Israel" (NOEL); 15A: Games immortal (HOYLE); 17A: Certain something (AURA); 18A: Clinch the deal, slangily (ICE IT); 23A: Blackjack holdings (NINETEENS); 25A: Maryland Air Force base (ANDREWS); 26A: Slanted, in a way (ITALIC); 27A: Pod fillers (PEAS); 37A: Houston MLBer ('STRO); 42A: Ring in a crib (TEETHER); 44A: Like mercenaries (ARMED); 47A: Farm lands (LEAS); 48A: Riviera attraction (MONTE CARLO); 49A: Staffs (MANS); 50A: View from Gibraltar (SPAIN); 51A: Frau's refusal (NEIN); 52A: Prefix meaning "peculiar" (IDIO); 53A: They may be sheepish (GRINS); 54A: Fog (DAZE); 55A: Printer's primary color (CYAN); 56A: Noncom nickname (SARGE); 57A: Canal site (SUEZ); 1D: Quickly (IN A SNAP); 2D: Ordinary (ROUTINE); 3D: Open porch (VERANDA); 4D: TV's Buffy and Faith, e.g. (SLAYERS); 5D: Kayaking challenge (WHITEWATER); 6D: Kodak's home (ROCHESTER); 7D: Keep an __ (EYE ON); 8D: Loses, in a way, with "down" (SLIMS); 9D: Dijon dome? (TÉTE); 12D: Wood of Hollywood (NATALIE); 13D: Analyze (DISSECT); 21D: Consumed (ATE); 24D: Liq. measures (PTS); 26D: By some measure (IN ONE SENSE); 29D: Kipling python (KAA); 30D: Doing, so to speak (IMITATING); 32D: Like much worship music (PSALMIC); 33D: Not prepared (UNREADY); 34D: Nadia Comaneci's homeland (ROMANIA); 35D: Persevere (PRESS ON); 36D: Was on top (LED); 37D: Leaves high and dry (STRANDS); 38D: "Civil Disobedience" author (THOREAU); 39D: Come to understand (REALIZE); 43D: Handy abbr. (ETC.); 46D: Station sign (ON AIR); 48D: In-box contents: Abbr. (MSGS.).