THEME: Terminator X — common phrases ending have their terminal "SK"s turned into "X"s, resulting in wacky phrases, which are then clued "?"-style
Good to see the late-week LA Times puzzles starting to get their teeth back a little (wait 'til you see tomorrow's ...). This one had a gloriously high "X" count (6 in the theme answers and then another 2 for good measure!), and took a decent amount of thought to work through. There were some wince-inducing moments, but the cleverness of the theme and Scrabbliness of the theme diminished their negative impact on my overall solving experience. One of the theme answers was pretty terrible — VIDEO DISK isn't really in the language except as the last two words represented by the abbrev. DVD, where it is conventionally spelled VIDEO DISC.
- HALF MAN? Really? (33D: Not a whole person?)
- EXER? Really? (52D: Phys. activity) — I have "OUCH" written next to that clue.
- The clue on PLEASURE seems convoluted to me (12D: You can get it from a blast). I assume it's a metaphorical blast, as in, "I had a blast ... and it gave me PLEASURE."
- HEXAD? Try using that word in a hockey rink and see where it gets you (61A: Hockey lineup, e.g.).
Still, this puzzle did not LAY AN EGG (great answer, 38D: Bomb big time). Both CAMPY (9A: Like much "Laugh-In" humor) and FRITTATA (21A: Italian omelet served open-faced) make me happy, and I don't think I've ever seen TRIPLEX, but it sure looks nice in the grid (18D: Apartment with two staircases, perhaps). SCANDAL sitting on top of WHISKEY gives the grid a cool Prohibition Era feel, like an old-fashioned CRIME DRAMA (58A: Part of "CSI" + 48D: Miller creation).
- 17A: Paul Bunyan's admission in therapy? ("I hate to ax")
- 27A: Formal attire for Dumbo? (elephant tux)
- 43A: Plant fiber used by moonshiners? (whiskey flax)
- 56A: Diver's tank capacity? (oxygen max)
- 11D: Catchall source of revenue? (multi-tax)
- 36D: Keep a Northeastern fort under surveillance? (video Dix)
Word of the Day: TETRA (20A: Fish in a tank) — as with OPAH, I never heard about this fish until I started doing crosswords in earnest. Crosswords are teeming with these fish. Without even looking at previous clues or any definitions, I can tell you they are common aquarium fish that are brightly colored (those two facts are probably linked). TETRA is the Greek prefix for four ... perhaps they have four ... of something. Fins?
- 60A: Verb suffix? (ose) — boo. This is literal. Why the "?" Maybe you wanted me to write in "IZE"?
- 1D: French teacher (maitre) — had MADAME, which is half write. But not HALF MAN.
- 28D: Folk singer Griffith (Nanci) — used to Love her. Saw her in concert twice. Had a huge crush on her from my teens well into my mid-20s. Other guys fantasized about swimsuit models or Farrah or whatever. But I was all about Teri Garr and (pre-whore) Sandy in "Grease" and Nanci Griffith. Here's the title track from what I think is probably her best album.
And here she is being impossibly cute and sounding Awesome in the late-80s (when such a feat was a near miracle):
See you Monday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: Queen described by Mercutio (MAB); 4A: Cornrow, e.g. (PLAIT); 9A: Like much "Laugh-In" humor (CAMPY); 14A: Put away (ATE); 15A: Dreads wearer (RASTA); 16A: Fertilized item (OVULE); 17A: Paul Bunyan's admission in therapy? (I HATE TO AX); 19A: Tees off (RILES); 20A: Fish in a tank (TETRA); 21A: Italian omelet served open-faced (FRITTATA); 23A: Museum assortment (RELICS); 25A: Balk at (RESIST); 27A: Formal attire for Dumbo? (ELEPHANT TUX); 31A: Place to unwind (TUB); 32A: "A Perfect Spy" author (LECARRE); 33A: __-kiri (HARA); 34A: Selfless sort (GIVER); 37A: Ex-Fed chairman Alan Greenspan's alma mater (NYU); 38A: Not so strict (LAXER); 39A: Computer operating system (UNIX); 40A: Tabloid topic (SCANDAL); 42A: It's illegal to drop it (LSD); 43A: Plant fiber used by moonshiners? (WHISKEY FLAX); 47A: River of the Carolinas (PEEDEE); 49A: 16-Across cell (GAMETE); 50A: The Great Barrier Reef borders it (CORAL SEA); 54A: Expectant parent, e.g. (NAMER); 55A: Darfur's nation (SUDAN); 56A: Diver's tank capacity? (OXYGEN MAX); 58A: Part of "CSI" (CRIME); 59A: Baseball commissioner Bud (SELIG); 60A: Verb suffix? (-OSE); 61A: Hockey lineup, e.g. (HEXAD); 62A: Borneo swinger (ORANG); 63A: 1985 video game release, initially (NES); 1D: French teacher (MAITRE); 2D: Following closely (AT HEEL); 3D: __ wig: '60s fad item (BEATLE); 4D: Service provider? (PREACHER); 5D: Back muscle, for short (LAT); 6D: Starting (AS OF); 7D: __-Tass: news agency (ITAR); 8D: Sitcom set in a garage (TAXI); 9D: Organ layer (CORTEX); 10D: Some athletic footwear (AVIAS); 11D: Catchall source of revenue? (MULTITAX); 12D: You can get it from a blast (PLEASURE); 13D: Check-box word (YES); 18D: Apartment with two staircases, perhaps (TRIPLEX); 22D: Loyal (TRUE); 24D: __ fly: run-scoring out (SAC); 26D: Way up the slope (T-BAR); 28D: Folk singer Griffith (NANCI); 29D: "__ I might ..." (TRY AS); 30D: Jack's place (TRUNK); 33D: Not a whole person? (HALF MAN); 34D: [Uh-oh!] (GULP); 35D: Like many Woody Allen characters (INSECURE); 36D: Keep a Northeastern fort under surveillance? (VIDEO DIX); 38D: Bomb big-time (LAY AN EGG); 40D: Kid-lit poet Silverstein (SHEL); 41D: B.S., e.g. (DEG.); 43D: Withdrew gradually (from) (WEANED); 44D: Best Actor winner for "Save the Tiger" (1973) (LEMMON); 45D: Drill command (AT EASE); 46D: Persian king who captured Athens (XERXES); 48D: Miller creation (DRAMA); 51D: Average (SO-SO); 52D: Phys. activity (EXER.); 53D: "The Clan of the Cave Bear" heroine (AYLA); 55D: 41-Down awarder (SCH.); 57D: Beefeater, e.g. (GIN).