THEME: "Fourth of July Celebration"—Words and phrases that pertain to Independence Day
Hey, it's Saturday! What's a theme doing in our puzzle? Why, it's commemorating our nation's independence. (No, not you, Crosscan. Sorry there were no grand Canada Day themes on Wednesday.) To accommodate the two 14-letter answers in the middle, the grid stretched to be 16 squares high. If you figure an extra row buys the constructor at least one more entry in the puzzle's word count limits, then this 73-worder still meets the criteria for a themeless puzzle—except that, well, it has a theme. But all those long answers (8 to 10 letters long) do give it a standard Saturday vibe.
- 16A: Devoted to one's land is what PATRIOTIC means.
- 36A, 39A: THE DECLARATION / OF INDEPENDENCE is clued With 39-Across, historic birth announcement?
- 59A: The Spectacular display that the Chicago lakefront has on July 3 is FIREWORKS.
- 15D: APPLE PIE, or Slice of Americana?, is also a theme answer, and one with a great clue. Its partner across the grid is...
- 37D: DIET COKE. This elixir of caffeinated life has been an American Soft drink since 7/4/1982. "Today, we celebrate our nation's independence from...Diet Pepsi, Tab, and Diet Rite."
Favorite answers and clues:
- 1A: Defiant way to respond to insults (TIT FOR TAT).
- 13A: Pull off the ultimate diamond theft? (STEAL HOME).
- 29A: Manual transmissions?: Abbr. (ASL). "Manual" as in "with your hands," ASL being American Sign Language.
- 44A: Tight ends? (TEES). The ends of the word "tight" are TEES, as in the letter T. Some people grumble that nobody much uses the spelled-out names of the letters of the alphabet and that it's cheap to use them as crossword fill. I kinda like the super-literal, ignore-the-word's meaning clues, personally. TEES, of course, would be easy to clue as golfball or football supports or t-shirts.
- 48A: Cutting (SARCASTIC). I love sarcasm. Yes, I know what that says about me.
- 63A: His aluminum dust allergy kept him from playing the Tin Man (EBSEN). Old showbiz trivia! Buddy Ebsen missed that part but picked up a couple memorable parts just a few decades later, playing Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies and the title role in Barnaby Jones.
- 66A: "Kate & Allie" actress (ARI MEYERS). Ha! She lives on in crosswords thanks to the grid-friendliness of ARI, but is scarcely famous enough to rate the full-name treatment here. She played the daughter of...either Kate or Allie. I think she went to Yale. In 1990, she was in a dreadful-looking primate horror movie starring Christopher Atkins, called Shakma, and this trailer mentions her Kate & Allie fame. Watch this trailer only if you don't mind ridiculous, unclear monkey fight scenes:
- 32D: Kangaroo, for one: Abbr. (CAPT). Captain Kangaroo! His friend, Mr. Green Jeans? When I was a preschooler, I called him Mr. Green Beans.
Everything Else — 10A: Trail (LAG); 14A: Radio Dr. (LAURA); 17A: Footnote abbr. (OP CIT); 18A: Sine's reciprocal, briefly (COSEC); 19A: Start to sort out, as stored boxes (UNPILE); 20A: __-dieu (PRIE); 23A: Opaque vase material (MILK GLASS); 25A: Landlord (LESSOR); 28A: Very wide size (EEEE); 30A: Fuzz site (PEACH); 33A: Humane Soc. ally (SPCA); 41A: Times for basking au soleil (ÉTÉS); 42A: Hotel courts (ATRIA); 43A: Videotape format (VHS); 46A: "No way!" ("MY FOOT!"); 53A: Literary governess (EYRE); 54A: Melodic (ARIOSO); 55A: Seasonal number (CAROL); 58A: Con game (BUNKO); 64A: Like a house on the market, often (REPAINTED); 65A: Arctic explorer John (RAE); 1D: Medicinal amt. (TSP); 2D: Spanish diminutive suffix (-ITA); 3D: Hanoi holiday (TET); 4D: Satire relatives (FARCES); 6D: Sorority letters (RHOS); 7D: Carved pole (TOTEM); 8D: Bari buddies (AMICI); 9D: Dick (TEC); 10D: St. __: Caribbean island state (LUCIA); 11D: Seed coverings (ARILS); 12D: Frequent swingers? (GATES); 14D: 1962 WWII epic, with "The" (LONGEST DAY); 19D: The sopranino is the smallest one (UKE); 20D: Surveyor's map (PLAT); 21D: Do a smith's job (RESHOE); 22D: Remains (IS LEFT); 24D: Satirical songwriter Tom who wrote "The Masochism Tango" (LEHRER); 26D: Time for hunting (OPEN SEASON); 27D: Abbr. stamped on an invoice (RECD); 31D: The Rays' div. (A.L. EAST); 34D: Military escort (CONVOY); 35D: News coordinator (ANCHOR); 38D: Lively, in mus. (ANIM); 40D: Town near Padua (ESTE); 45D: Tomas's "that" (ESO); 47D: Fraud, usually (FELONY); 48D: Cavalry weapon (SABER); 49D: Oranjestad's island (ARUBA); 50D: Eschew the soap (RINSE); 51D: More distant (ICIER); 52D: Wrist bones (CARPI); 56D: Chew (out) (REAM); 57D: Boo-boo, in kidspeak (OWIE); 59D: Brother (FRA); 60D: Shortcut, e.g.: Abbr. (RTE); 61D: Plop preceder (KER); 62D: Campus activist org. reformed in 2006 (SDS).