Theme: SWIM TEAM — 1A/71A: Extracurricular group concerned with the starts of the answers to starred clues. Theme answers are words or phrases that begin with a type of swimming stroke.
- 18A: *Dangerous snake of the Southwest (SIDEWINDER). It's a venomous pitviper. That sounds a lot scarier than sidewinder, doesn't it?
- 24A: *Fortification about four feet high (BREASTWORK). Uhm, okay if you say so. Reminds me of the time a few years ago when we bought a John Deere lawn tractor and the salesguy asked us if we were going to do any "dirtwork" with it. We're all, "Well that would depend on what the hell dirtwork is."
- 39A: *Chaos theory principle (BUTTERFLY EFFECT).
- 53A: *Road less traveled (BACK STREET). You can all be grateful that I don't know any Backstreet Boys music, so I'm not going to include a video.
- 61A: *Area where electricians can't stand to work? (CRAWL SPACE). Wikipedia says "crawl space" is only in a basement. Can't there be crawl space in an attic? Just wondering. Oh yeah, and this is a Great clue.
Crosswordese 101: Let's talk about ULNAE (36A: Arm bones). We all know what the ULNA is, right? It's the forearm bone, which is next to the radius and below the humerus. The tricky part in puzzles is when it asks for the plural. You just never know if they're going for the Latin ULNAE or the Anglicized ULNAS. This is the part where I typically tell you what kind of hints you'll find in the clue to help you determine which version of the word you want. Unfortunately, I can't do that on this one. You just have to check the crosses. Sorry.
I was going to complain about all the cross-referencing clues in today's puzzle, but it turns out there are only two. No wait. There are three including the theme revealing clue. So that is a lot. The funny thing is when I've constructed crossword puzzles before it always seems like a good idea to do a cross-reference clue. But when I'm solving ... not so much. At least today both split answers were people — ANAÏS NIN and ERNIE ELS — so I guess that's kind of cool. (43A/10D: "Collages" author and 55D/35D: Two-time U.S. Open winner.)
Other than that, this was a pretty smooth solve with only a few thorny spots. I had a hard time parsing A-STAR (29A: Altair, for one). I guess you could say astronomy isn't my strong suit. The only reason I finally figured it out was because I had a forehead slapping moment with TUFFETS (30D: Low stools). At first I was all, "What does a buffet have to do with a stool?" Then I remembered Little Miss Muffet. I'm not sure I ever totally understood what she was sitting on. It's possible I've been under the impression that a tuffet is a mushroom all these years. And believe me, that's the least of my baggage.
- 15A: What, in Tours (QUOI). French!
- 22A: Home run pace (TROT).
- 28A: Silver salmon (COHO). I'm sure I've seen this fish in puzzles before, but I had to wait for the crosses. And the crosses were a little sketchy, too. I confidently entered ogre for 26D: Fairy tale meany. Nine times out of ten, that's the fairy tale meany they're talking about. But not today. Today they want that stupid WOLF.
- 60A: Tennis opening (SERVE). I think there was a rain delay on Monday and we're carrying over the tail end of that theme today.
- 68A: Copier company (MITA). Perhaps not the most popular copier company, but a copier company nonetheless.
- 1D: '80s-'90s Toronto pitcher Dave (STIEB). Ya know who knew this one? Crosscan. Ya know who had to wait for crosses? PuzzleGirl.
- 6D: Rapa __: Easter Island (NUI). If you didn't know this one, try to remember it. You will see it again.
- 11D: CPU drive (DVD BURNER). This looked all kinds of wrong when I only had the V and the second D in there.
- 21D: Paul Anka love song with a Spanish title (ESO BESO). This song peaked at number 19 in 1962, but it's way higher on the CrossWorld all-time greatest hits list.
- 31D: Corp. alias letters (DBA). Doing Business As.
- 32D: Flag Day mo. (JUN.). I loathe this abbreviation. For God's sake, it's a four-letter month — why does it need to be abbreviated?
I saved this for last because it's really awesome. In case you haven't been keeping up with this sordid story, it seems that Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina disappeared for several days. It's not entirely clear who knew what and when, but there was a period of time over the last few days where it appeared that neither his staff nor his wife were able to reach him. Then his staff floated the remarkably shaky story that Sanford was "hiking the Appalachian Trail." I guess that's what the kids are calling it these days? Anyway. He surfaced today and we now know — as a result of his tearful, televised apology (is there anybody not sick of the tearful, televised politician's apology at this point?) — he has been having an affair with a woman in Buenos Aires and was with her in South America the whole time he was supposedly missing. From what I can tell, the whole thing is just a big old pile of stupid and nobody has really figured it all out yet. Of course, people are talking about what his wife should have done and should do now, and blah, blah, blah. But here's my thing. Married people negotiate their relationships and not a single one of us has any idea what was/is acceptable in the Sanford marriage. But, for crying out loud, he's the GOVERNOR of a STATE. I don't think someone who's responsible for a WHOLE STATE should be able to just disappear like that. Isn't part of a governor's job description, oh, I don't know ... "Be available in case you're needed for state business"? I mean, even if he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, which he clearly was not — like why did his staff think that was an appropriate answer to the question? Okay, okay, enough of the ranting. Here's my point.
- 56D: "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" singer (EVITA).
- 64D: S.C. summer hours (EDT).
Everything Else — 5A: Lodges (INNS); 9A: Split up (END IT); 14A: "Voil&aague;!" relative ("TA-DA!"); 16A: Split (up) (DIVVY); 17A: "Terrible" tsar (IVAN); 20A: Surreal (EERIE); 23A: Bud (BRO); 27A: Swear (CUSS); 31A: CD players (DJS); 34A: Field bundle (BALE); 44A: Shore pounder (SURF); 45A: Stutz contemporary (REO); 46A: Rub it in (GLOAT); 49A: For men and women, in a way (CO-ED); 51A: Split (FLEE); 58A: Awed response (OOH); 59A: __-McGee, energy company that employed Karen Silkwood (KERR); 65A: Have __: know someone (AN IN); 66A: Warbucks's favorite (ANNIE); 67A: Reptilian logo brand, once (IZOD); 69A: Projecting shelf (LEDGE); 70A: Scriptural passage (TEXT); 2D: Vacillate (WAVER); 3D: Start of a challenge (I DARE); 4D: Stark raving type (MANIAC); 5D: Mensa concerns (IQS); 7D: Bob one's head at (NOD TO); 8D: Mountain chain (SIERRA); 9D: Rewrite, maybe (EDIT); 12D: "Riverdance" fiddler Eileen (IVERS); 13D: Novices (TYROS); 19D: Chinese cookware (WOKS); 25D: "__ she blows!" (THAR); 27D: Pasture arrival (CALF); 33D: Theater worker (STAGEHAND); 37D: Snoopy, in his WWI fantasies (ACE); 38D: Arena for DDE (ETO); 40D: Mah-jongg piece (TILE); 41D: "Disgusting!" (YUCK); 42D: Fertility god (EROS); 47D: Actor Vigoda et al. (ABES); 48D: La Brea attraction (TAR PIT); 50D: Imagined (DREAMT); 51D: The "f" in f-stop (FOCAL); 52D: "SNL" producer Michaels (LORNE); 54D: Fad (CRAZE); 57D: Common break hr. (TEN AM); 59D: Kandinsky friend (KLEE); 62D: Costume party item (WIG); 63D: "Friends" costar Courteney (COX).