THEME: "Man, Am I Tired"—Four unrelated phrases begin with slangy synonyms for "tired"
Wow, was it hard to figure out the theme in this puzzle. I finished filling in the grid in a Monday/Tuesday amount of time, and then had to spend a few minutes reading the theme entries aloud to my husband before it dawned on me that BEAT, SLEEPY, WHIPPED, and DEAD can all mean "tired."
- 20A: Journalists with specialties are BEAT REPORTERS.
- 33A: Washington Irving title setting is SLEEPY HOLLOW. That's the story with Ichabod Crane, the Headless Horseman, and Ichabod's rival Brom Bones.
- 41A: Dessert topping is WHIPPED CREAM.
- 57A: DEAD MAN'S CURVE is the Title place you "won't come back from," in a 1964 Jan & Dean hit.
Crosswordese 101: 54D: SABOT is a Dutch shoe. Now, SABOT is a French word, and as the Wikipedia article relates, "the word sabotage derived from sabot, reportedly describing how disgruntled workers damaged workplace machines in France by tossing their shoes into the mechanisms." (Lexicographer Charles Hodgson says that's mere folk etymology, though.) SABOT also gets applied to clogs in general and to Dutch wooden shoes. This word doesn't show up all that often in crosswords, no, but how often do you encounter it anywhere else? Me, I don't run into it. Its appearance here in a Wednesday puzzle tells you that you need to know it, because it will be back.
An olio of answers and clues:
- 5A: Golden Arches pork sandwich (MCRIB). Bleah.
- Large Body of Water Day begins with 23A: Sweden's neighbor across the Baltic Sea is LATVIA. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are the three Baltic countries. 55A: Sea surrounding Lemnos is the AEGEAN. Can't say I've ever heard of Lemnos, but it sounds Greek and the AEGEAN Sea surrounds Greece. 34D: Ore.'s ocean is the PAC., or Pacific Ocean.
- 66A: Bath residue is the yucky RING. My son likes to play with Star Wars figurines and spaceships in the bath—because space is very much like a warm bubble bath.
- I don't know about you, but PETER Nero, the 68A: Nero at the piano, is someone I know primarily via crosswords. I suspect you're more likely to see NERO with a Peter clue than PETER with a Nero clue. I like to think he's descended from the Nero who fiddled while Rome burned, and that the love for music has been carried down through a hundred generations.
- 4D: Comedy show that once featured "Spy vs. Spy" cartoons is MADTV. Guess what? If you never bothered to catch this sometimes-hilarious sketch comedy show, I won't pressure you to—because the show just had its final episode this month. Here at la Casa Naranja, our favorite recurring character was Miss Swan, seen here as an airline passenger:
- BIOTECH is a cool answer. That's 9D: Gene therapist's field, briefly.
- 12D: Org. with Heat and Thunder is the NBA. Miami Heat and, uh, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Is that who they are? They used to be the Seattle Supersonics but they moved and now, yes, they're the Oklahoma City Thunder.
- 33D: Seven-time NFL Pro Bowler Warren's last name is SAPP. This clue makes me muse about how wondrous it would be if they had professional bowlers playing in the NFL?
- 43D: Bit of ocular irrigation is an EYEDROP. 'Tis the season for allergic folks to use antihistamine eyedrops.