THEME: STOUT (64A: Heavy brew, and a clue to this puzzle's theme) — "ST" has been taken "OUT" of familiar phrases, resulting in wacky new phrases, which are clued "?"-style.
This is a variety of theme that you will see every so often, maybe several times a year — constructors make use of words that have letter strings"OUT" or "IN" inside them by asking us to imagine said words as directions. I'm waiting for my GOUT puzzle. [Presidential pooch?] => ROVER CLEVELAND. I'm actually finishing up a puzzle built around this same basic concept. I conceived it, and constructed it, and then found that it had been done before ... but my theme answers were completely different, so I went ahead and clued it anyway. PuzzleGirl helped with the cluing. Maybe we'll release it for free of this site in the near future. Anyway, back to today's puzzle. As I said, the concept is not original, but as with any "wacky phrases" puzzle, the only thing that matters is the punch of the wackiness. No one's going to care about concept originality if you can make your theme answers sing and dance. I'd give today's answers a B overall, with the first one, RANGE BEDFELLOWS, getting a flat A (and if you've ever had a class with me, you know I don't give flat As very often). The rest of them are fine, but after RANGE BEDFELLOWS, there's really nowhere to go but down.
- 17A: Ennis and Jack in "Brokeback Mountain"? (RANGE BEDFELLOWS)
- 25A: Etchings? (ART FROM SCRATCH)
- 42A: Gerontologists? (AGE TECHNICIANS)
- 56A: Tried to get into Guinness by gobbling hot dogs? (ATE FOR THE RECORD)
This is a very chopped-up grid, resulting in lots of little 3x4 and 4x4 sections, which in turn results in a lot of not terribly interesting fill. 6+letter fill is pretty nice. Especially like the full title on "THE BIRDS" (9D: 1963 thriller set in Bodega Bay), and the colorful words EYEFUL (43D: As much as one cares to see) and SKEWER (5D: Barbecuing aid). There's at least a dozen good contenders for today's Crosswordese 101 segment, but I'm going to have to go with the old-fashioned, but persistent and versatile ... ABIE!
["Emancimotherf@#$inpator of the slaves!"]
Crosswordese 101: ABIE (10A: "_____ Baby": "Hair" song) — I learned ABIE a long, long time ago under the harsh tutelage of one Eugene T. Maleska, who edited the NYT crossword until his death in the early '90s. When I learned it, however, it was not typically clued via "Hair" (at least not that I remember) but through another famous Broadway production: "ABIE's Irish Rose." Maybe the profanity and the general naked hippie freak-outedness of "Hair" didn't suit the sensibilities of the notoriously pedantic Maleska. Or maybe he used "Hair" clues for ABIE and I just forgot. All I know is that I learned (permanently) the "Hair" song "ABIE Baby" in the Will Shortz era.
- 6A: Map showing easements (PLAT) — you're welcome.
- 15A: Doth own (HATH) — stupidly had HAST here for a while.
- 32A: NE New Jersey city (LODI) — also a wine ctr in central CA.
- 13D: Lanchester of "Bride of Frankenstein" (ELSA) — haven't seen this ELSA in a long time. Usually it's the lion.
- 45D: Robert of "The Sopranos" (ILER) — crosswordtastic. We'll get to him eventually.
- 50D: Sewing case (ETUI) — classic
- 55D: Ore seeker's entrance (ADIT) — classicker. Where's ASTA? This really feels like a crowd he'd hang out with.
See you Monday.
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Everything Else — 1A: Helps a certain hacker, say (ABETS); 6A: Map showing easements (PLAT); 10A: "__ Baby": "Hair" song (ABIE); 14A: Raven's sound (CROAK); 15A: Doth own (HATH); 16A: Item in a belt (TOOL); 17A: Ennis and Jack in "Brokeback Mountain"? (RANGE BEDFELLOWS); 20A: Inning trio? (ENS); 21A: Magic prop (WAND); 22A: Sheepish response? (BAA BAA); 23A: Plane starter? (AERO); 24A: "Sometimes __ a pleasure": Byron (SINS); 25A: Etchings? (ART FROM SCRATCH); 31A: Baba __: Gilda Radner persona (WAWA); 32A: NE New Jersey city (LODI); 33A: Big ref. (OED); 35A: Prevaricator (LIAR); 36A: Puts away (STOWS); 38A: Magazine contents (AMMO); 39A: Job application no. (SSN); 40A: "Let it be" (STET); 41A: Pirate of fiction (SMEE); 42A: Gerontologists? (AGE TECHNICIANS); 47A: Landscaping shrubs (YEWS); 48A: Minnesota's St. __ College (OLAF); 49A: Sister of Venus (SERENA); 52A: "The Witches of Eastwick" actress (CHER); 53A: Musician's deg. (MFA); 56A: Tried to get into Guinness by gobbling hot dogs? (ATE FOR THE RECORD); 59A: Outdoor feast (LUAU); 60A: Old timepiece (DIAL); 61A: Peninsula bordering Israel (SINAI); 62A: Ones place (TILL); 63A: Short cut (SNIP); 64A: Heavy brew, and a clue to this puzzle's theme (STOUT); 1D: Lot, sometimes (ACRE); 2D: Wheat husk (BRAN); 3D: Big times (EONS); 4D: Phone __ (TAG); 5D: Barbecuing aid (SKEWER); 6D: Prodigy (PHENOM); 7D: Fawcett's "Charlie's Angels" successor (LADD); 8D: DOJ bureau (ATF); 9D: 1963 thriller set in Bodega Bay (THE BIRDS); 10D: Words after a holdup (AT LAST); 11D: Knucklehead (BOOB); 12D: Major caucus site (IOWA); 13D: Lanchester of "Bride of Frankenstein" (ELSA); 18D: Prefix with meter (BARO-); 19D: It's part of Maui County (LANAI); 23D: Yonder (AFAR); 24D: Tub (SCOW); 25D: Punching gadgets (AWLS); 26D: Mrs. Gorbachev (RAISA); 27D: Country sound (TWANG); 28D: Animal that sleeps upside down (SLOTH); 29D: One might appear many times in a long list (COMMA); 30D: Studs (HE-MEN); 34D: Stag mates (DOES); 36D: Wine openers (STEWARDS); 37D: Private eyes (TECS); 38D: "That's not happening!" ("AS IF!"); 40D: Pool worker (STENO); 43D: As much as one cares to see (EYEFUL); 44D: Of little use (NO HELP); 45D: Robert of "The Sopranos" (ILER); 46D: Gentle touch (CARESS); 49D: Store (away) (SALT); 50D: Sewing case (ETUI); 51D: Unlike a figment (REAL); 52D: Trendy tea (CHAI); 53D: Like 45s (MONO); 54D: Lady of the Haus (FRAU); 55D: Ore seeker's entrance (ADIT); 57D: Cookie container (TIN); 58D: Loc. __ (CIT.).