A fine Monday puzzle that confused me at the very end because I assumed we were counting down by currency denominations, and so when I realized the first word of the last theme answer was going to be TWO, I thought "O come on, you're really going to count the TWO dollar bill!?" But no. Nothing to do with currency. Whole puzzle must have been inspired by the show "TWO AND A HALF MEN." It's nice that that show inspired something besides my desire not to watch it, or any other laff-trakked sitcom, ever again.
- 20A: Borax haulers, in classic ads (TWENTY MULE TEAM) — man, it is old-timey Monday today (if you did the NYT, you know what I'm talking about). I don't know these "ads" from Adam. Let's see if I can dredge one up... here's one that teaches you how to wash your hands "the modern way":
["I'm the old ranger ..." [!?!?]]
- 31A: Cowboy's topper (TEN GALLON HAT)
- 41A: Poker game where one might stand pat (FIVE CARD DRAW)
- 57A: CBS sitcom since 2003 ("TWO AND A HALF MEN")
Crosswordese 101: ERMA (22D: Witty Bombeck) — I was going to go with LARUE, but he got mentioned in Orange's write-up of OATER a while back. He probably deserves his own write-up, but I'll leave him for now and pick up the IRMA / ERMA split instead. ILSA : ELSA :: IRMA : ERMA. Easily confusable. IRMA almost always gets clued via the Billy Wilder film "IRMA La Douce" (with Shirley MacLaine in the title role), while ERMA is almost always clued via Ms. Bombeck. Sometimes you see Bombeck clued as an "Aunt" with a "Cope Book" because of her 1979 bestseller "Aunt ERMA's Cope Book." How to tell the "I"RMA from the "E"RMA? You just have to decide: which one looks more hookerish? That one is IRMA.
- 35A: "... _____ saw Elba" (ERE I) — EREI and IERE are some of the most execrable bits of small fill in the world of crosswords. You can thank this ancient palindrome for their continued existence: "Able was I ERE I saw Elba."
- 3D: It's to the far right on freeways (SLOW LANE) — also called the "Going The Speed Limit Lane."
- 39D: Kim of "L.A. Confidential" (BASINGER) — she won an Oscar for a movie based on this blog. Good for her.
- 43D: Some West Indian religious cultists (VOODOOS) — you can be a VOODOO? I have never seen the word used to mean anything but the religion itself.
That's all. See you Friday.
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