THEME: "LET'S DANCE"—The other four long entries end with names of specific dances
- 18A: Good horse for a kid is a WELSH PONY. There's a dance called the Pony? There's an equine called the Welsh pony? Both are news to me.
- 23A: Fiery chip dip clues RED HOT SALSA. Hmm, I can't say I've seen RED HOT SALSA. Mild, medium, and hot salsa, yes. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, yes. Have you seen those "literal video versions" on YouTube? They've got one for the Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge" and it gave me the giggles.
- 37A: CHARLIE HUSTLE is the famous Pete Rose nickname. Ah, the Hustle! That takes me back to my '70s childhood. I'll do you a favor and not post anything that will implant that horrid little tune in your head. It's there anyway, isn't it? I know it wormed its way into my head in the middle of doing this crossword.
- 51A: I had a couple answers in mind for Dickens orphan. Is Tiny Tim an orphan? No, and his name is too short. Pip? Definitely not 11 letters. It's OLIVER TWIST, and I wonder how many people have ever thrown out their back by doing the Twist.
- 58A: Tying everything together is the Ball offer, and a hint to this puzzle's theme, LET'S DANCE. That "ball offer" probably didn't make many of us instantly think of the answer. David Bowie fans mourn his absence from the clue because his early-'80s song, 'Let's Dance," is a classic. You know what? We need another video.
Turn your speakers a little lower for Bowie—this video's loud:
Crosswordese 101: When did the United States abolish the draft and switch to an all-volunteer military? That was in 1973. Who'd have thought that 36 years later, the Most draftable 1-A status would live on in crosswords? That's 15A: ONE-A. Other phrases you may see in clues for ONE-A include draft status, fit to serve, most eligible to serve. The general crossword rules prefer a stand-alone answer to one that fills in a blank in a longer phrase, but I'm afraid I have to give the edge to the "___-Day vitamins" clue because you can find those in any drugstore today. And really, the draft classification has the numeral 1 rather than the word one, so it's already a bit of a trumped-up answer.
An olio of answers and clues:
- 27A: Where Mork and Mindy honeymooned is ORK. 41A: Monk monikers clues FRAS. This clue combo amuses me because yesterday, another puzzle had a clue about Tony Shalhoub's TV character, Monk, but my eyes read it as being about Mork. So Mork shows up in today's puzzle, and so does Monk—but really, it's a little-m monk.
- 33A: Big name in yellow journalism is William Randolph HEARST. Extra, extra! Read all about it at Wikipedia. I can't help thinking about journalism when I see the word PULLET (2D: Young hen), thanks to that bad pun where "pullet surprise" replaces "Pulitzer prize."
- 50A: Tree toppler is an AXE. I missed the L in the clue, so I was looking for a Christmas tree topper. Who the heck decorates their Christmas tree with an axe?!? Uh, nobody. But a lumberjack could topple a tree with one.
- 68A: Howard Hughes's phobia was GERMS. If only he were living today, in the golden age of antibacterial pens and laundry detergent.
- 6D: I also misread the key word in Prominent bulldog features as "building," so I sorta wanted the answer to be DOMES. Buildings with JOWLS would be architecturally magnificent, though.
- 44D: Sponsor's offering? is WORD, as in "And now, a word from our sponsor." Great clue!
See you again on Saturday, folks.
Everything Else — 1A: Shop-till-you-drop outing (SPREE); 6A: Doorway part (JAMB); 10A: Goes (for) (OPTS); 14A: Not quite a liter (QUART); 16A: Like some vaccines (ORAL); 17A: Extremist (ULTRA); 20A: Land in la mer (ILE); 21A: 35mm camera type (SLR); 22A: From Buffalo to Boston (EAST); 30A: Online investing service (E-TRADE); 31A: "___ no big deal" (IT'S); 32A: Org. in the 2008 film "Burn After Reading" (CIA); 36A: Like furry slippers (SOFT); 42A: Salad variety (CAESAR); 43A: Hon, in dialect (LUV); 44A: WWII female (WAC); 46A: More than gladdens (ELATES); 54A: Lobbying group for 50-and-over folks (AARP); 56A: Helpful contacts (INS); 57A: Title Pontiac of song (GTO); 61A: Raring to go (EAGER); 63A: Rara __ (AVIS); 64A: "Mask" actress (CHER); 65A: Achilles, for one (GREEK); 66A: LeBlanc of "Friends" (MATT); 67A: Further (ALSO); 1D: Escort (SQUIRE); 3D: Like many violent films (RATED R); 4D: Bobble the ball, e.g. (ERR); 5D: O'Hare approx. (ETA); 7D: End of __ (AN ERA); 8D: Gibson of "Braveheart" (MEL); 9D: Most contemptible (BASEST); 10D: "Klutzy me!" ("OOPS!"); 11D: Diplomatic etiquette (PROTOCOL); 12D: Salon offering (TAN); 13D: Crafty (SLY); 19D: Lukas of "Mars Attacks!" (HAAS); 21D: Pick pockets, say (STEAL); 24D: Sounds of mirth (HA HAS); 25D: Poland-Germany border river (ODER); 26D: Willowy (LITHE); 28D: Abounding (with) (RIFE); 29D: Kit __ Klub: "Cabaret" setting (KAT); 34D: Christina of "Black Snake Moan" (RICCI); 35D: Neptune's realm (SEA); 36D: Hat material (STRAW); 37D: Heart (CRUX); 38D: "Dig in!" (HAVE AT IT); 39D: eBay visitors (USERS); 40D: Margarita option (SALT); 41D: Hialeah's home: Abbr. (FLA.); 45D: Poncho wool (ALPACA); 47D: Pooh Corner cat (TIGGER); 48D: Revere (ESTEEM); 49D: Baby birds? (STORKS); 52D: Immoral practices (VICES); 53D: Month in el invierno (ENERO); 55D: Man Fri. (ASST.); 58D: Flee (LAM); 59D: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" girl (EVA); 60D: Stanley Cup org. (NHL); 61D: FabergÈ treasure (EGG); 62D: "What __ the choices?" (ARE).