THEME: No theme today—Just a themeless Saturday puzzle with some cool fill
My goodness, does the upper left corner of this puzzle ever stink. I'm surprised some pungent garlic or garbage dump phrases didn't find their way in, amid HOG HEAVEN (1A: Blissful state, slangily) and an ONION DOME (15A: Russian Orthodox church feature). Pee-yoo! Nothing else made me hold my nose, though. And much of it had a pleasant aroma—figuratively speaking.
Up first, today's tutorial:
Crosswordese 101: NESS doesn't usually get a clue like 9D: Headland. The straight-up little-n ness is a noun meaning "a headland or promontory," so if either of those clues show up, picture The Untouchables' Eliot Ness or the Loch Ness monster hanging out on a promontory in order to remember this humble little word. What's a promontory? That's "a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water; a headland." Capone nemesis and Legendary loch are more typical clues, but every so often, the editors and constructors are in a promontory mood.
Favorite answers and clues: We've got 14 long answers of 8 to 15 letters apiece, and many of them rock. So do some of the short answers.
- 18A. Bullock's "Miss Congeniality" costar is Benjamin BRATT. He was hot in Law & Order, though his character's main purpose was not to be eye candy for me. No, he was there to be the foil for Lennie Briscoe's wry one-liners. Lennie, the guy in the YouTube freeze frame below, is my all-time favorite L&O character (and he was played by Jerry Orbach, the father of my 7/5 NYT crossword co-constructor, Tony Orbach). You see BRATT in the very first frame of this video:
- 35A: Control tower concerns (TRAFFIC PATTERNS). A solid 15.
- 46A: Coconut's place (GROVE). Isn't that a Van Halen cover song?
- 60A: Surfing equipment? (DSL MODEMS). I guessed this one off the S at the end of 8-Down.
- 2D: Handling the task (ON IT). This looks like a horrible little two-word answer, but I like it. "Who's blogging the puzzle today?" "I'm ON IT."
- 8D: Antarctic denizens (EMPEROR PENGUINS). Who doesn't love penguins? Except for the evil penguin in the Wallace and Gromit short, The Wrong Trousers. Jeeze, that penguin creeps me out.
- 10D: First "America's Funniest Home Videos" host (BOB SAGET). I don't know any family with kids that doesn't love this show—but with Tom Bergeron as host. Bob Saget stinks worse than hogs and onions.
- 12D: Critical 1942-43 battle site (STALINGRAD). Wow, that takes nerve, doesn't it? Josef Stalin ascended to power in the Soviet Union in 1922, and within three years he had renamed Tsaritsyn after himself. "Orangeburg." "Reynaldo City." "Amystadt."
- 25D: Jotting medium (SCRAP PAPER). You know what else fits this clue and the first three letters? SCRATCH PAD. Anyone else start out with that wrong answer? No? Just me?
- 26D: Dean Martin classic (THAT'S AMORE). "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore..." Aw, I want to hear that song now:
- 49D: Kind of fax (JUNK). Not wild about the clue—because "junk" is not a "kind of fax." A "junk fax" is a "kind of fax." But JUNK is a great word that's been with us since the Middle English days.
- 50D: Sudoku feature (GRID). I don't mind wasting some time with sudoku, but that newer Ken-ken/Calcu-doku puzzle just doesn't captivate me.
Everything Else — 10A: Tack together (BASTE); 16A: Habitually (OFTEN); 17A: They're usually not on itineraries (SIDETRIPS); 19A: French hagiological abbr. (STE.); 20A: Events on a card (RACES); 21A: Jam highlights (SOLOS); 22A: Doctor finder (PAGER); 23A: Yacht site (BASIN); 24A: Fuji setting (F-STOP); 27A: Master: Abbr. (ORIG.); 29A: FDR program (NRA); 31A: Steadily fading sound (ECHO); 32A: French police detective unit (SURETE); 34A: Elongated fish (GAR); 38A: Dig into (EAT); 39A: Fictional Queen (ELLERY); 40A: Vacación destination (LAGO); 41A: MLB rally killers (DPS); 42A: Logician Turing (ALAN); 43A: Not recent (OLDEN); 44A: Fencer's defense (PARRY); 49A: Jazz pianist Ahmad __ (JAMAL); 50A: Handbook, e.g. (GUIDE); 51A: Ft. Worth campus (TCU); 54A: Winning, barely (UP ONE); 55A: A paddlewheel may propel one (RIVERBOAT); 57A: Drips (NERDS); 58A: Like sound frequencies above 20 kHz or so, to humans (INAUDIBLE); 59A: Beatnik of '50s-'60s TV (KREBS); 1D: Eric Cartwright's nickname on "Bonanza" (HOSS); 3D: French Nobelist André (GIDE); 4D: Row starter (HOE); 5D: Rope in (ENTRAP); 6D: "Kind of __": 1967 hit (A DRAG); 7D: Music school major (VOICE); 11D: Puffy styles (AFROS); 13D: It's part of the Rockies (TETON RANGE); 14D: Treebeard's kin (ENTS); 22D: Vanishing word (POOF); 23D: Wee (BITTY); 24D: Honored with a party (FETED); 28D: Bottom (REAR); 30D: Illicit ignition (ARSON); 32D: Lacking gravity (SILLY); 33D: First to win 100 NCAA team championships (UCLA); 36D: Unflinching (FEARLESS); 37D: Magazine with the column "Ask E. Jean" (ELLE); 43D: Go too far (OVERDO); 45D: Soul predecessor (R AND B); 47D: Romantic triangle figure (RIVAL); 48D: Recital hall (ODEUM); 51D: Soliloquy opener (TO BE); 52D: 0 on the Beaufort scale (CALM); 53D: Chief Ouray's people (UTES); 56D: Opposite of ask (BID).