THEME: S-ircumcision — initial "S" in familiar two-word phrases is cut off, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Drop-a-letter theme, with the bar raised ever-so-slightly by the fact that the letter is dropped in every instance from the beginning, and from in front of a "T." Ideally there would be no other "ST" words in the puzzle, but there's STILT (9D: Clown's accessory). No big deal. All in all, an OK puzzle. Adequate, reasonably well filled, but nothing I'll remember in another few hours. Highlights of the puzzle are a pair of long Downs: EBENEZER in the NE (11D: Charles's miser) and TOMAHAWK in the SW (34D: Western weapon). The latter was especially tough for me to get, as I had the "T," then the "TO," then the "TOM," and still couldn't make sense of it. TOMMYGUN? Wrong genre.
- 17A: Insect's working hours? (TICK SHIFT)
- 24A: Seaman who saw it all? (TAR WITNESS) — my favorite wrong answer of the day: before I had completely grasped the theme, I wrote in AYE WITNESS. That *should* be a theme answer in some puzzle, somewhere.
- 34A: Split end? (TRESS FRACTURE)
- 46A: London museum's hidden camera locations? (TATE SECRET)
- 53A: Where two-wheelers aren't allowed? (TRIKE ZONE) — my favorite theme answer of the day.
This was pretty easy for a Friday, but (in addition to getting stopped short at TOMAHAWK) there were a handful minor struggles. Started with FTS instead of PTS in the NW (FTS = valid abbreviation for "free throws"), so that meant that 1D: Rotten (PUTRID) refused to come into view without a little hacking and rewriting. Beginning of TAR WITNESS did not come easily, and I had ALEF for ALIF to start (25D: First Arabic letter). Thought the clown's "accessory" was his SMILE for a little while (9D: Clown's accessory), though IRENE was IRENA (19A: Peace goddess) and thought ALONZO was ALONSO (44D: Former NBA star Mourning). All very minor stumbles. KAREN Corr is my new name of the day — surprised I didn't learn about her through her last name, which seems far more crossword-friendly than her first (52A: Former #1 woman pool player Corr).
Crosswordese 101: URI (14A: The Rams of the NCAA's Atlantic 10 Conf.) — University of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Rams play in the Atlantic 10 Conf. I really wish there were some "R" word in "Atlantic 10 Conf." — the alliteration would help me remember "Rhode Island" a lot better. URI also gets clued from time to time as a spoon-bender, referring to "mentalist" URI Geller, an Israeli man who conned many people into believing he could manipulate matter using only the power of his mind. Very famous in the 1970s.
- 31A: One-named model on many romance novel covers (FABIO) — if you haven't seen this, well ... you haven't seen it:
- 31D: Five-time Emmy winner Tina (FEY) — dang, five? That's a lot. What are they for? Let's see ... She won 3 in 2008 for writing, producing, and acting in "30 Rock." Then one for producing "30 Rock" in 2007 and one for writing for SNL in 2002. She's bound to win more. Love her.
See you Monday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: NBA stats (PTS); 4A: Meccan, e.g. (SAUDI); 9A: Silver fish (SMELT); 14A: The Rams of the NCAA's Atlantic 10 Conf. (URI); 15A: Popular place to go downhill (ASPEN); 16A: Something not done (TABOO); 17A: Insect's working hours? (TICK SHIFT); 19A: Peace goddess (IRENE); 20A: Tools with teeth (RAKES); 21A: Where users meet (ONLINE); 23A: Composer Stravinsky (IGOR); 24A: Seaman who saw it all? (TAR WITNESS); 28A: __ Moines (DES); 29A: Scout's concern (TALENT); 30A: Site of bedlam (ZOO); 31A: One-named model on many romance novel covers (FABIO); 32A: Attention-getting sounds (AHEMS); 34A: Split end? (TRESS FRACTURE); 38A: Young Aussie hoppers (JOEYS); 39A: Plumbing outlet (DRAIN); 40A: 911 response org. (EMS); 41A: Tiny African threat (TSE TSE); 43A: Gal __ (PAL); 46A: London museum's hidden camera locations? (TATE SECRET); 49A: __ Alto (PALO); 50A: Must (HAVE TO); 51A: Malice (VENOM); 52A: Former #1 woman pool player Corr (KAREN); 53A: Where two-wheelers aren't allowed? (TRIKE ZONE); 57A: __ Corning, maker of Fiberglas (OWENS); 58A: Gave in (CAVED); 59A: Israeli weapon (UZI); 60A: Do figures, in a way (SKATE); 61A: Doglike scavenger (HYENA); 62A: Whole lot (TON); 1D: Rotten (PUTRID); 2D: "M*A*S*H" system (TRIAGE); 3D: Perverted types (SICKOS); 4D: Impudence (SASS); 5D: Burning issue? (ASH); 6D: News letters (UPI); 7D: Rapper Mos __ (DEF); 8D: Back from a trip, say (IN TOWN); 9D: Clown's accessory (STILT); 10D: Sausalito's county (MARIN); 11D: Charles's miser (EBENEZER); 12D: Like the road in a classic ballad (LONESOME); 13D: __ the line (TOE); 18D: Flooey lead-in (KER-); 22D: Little louse (NIT); 24D: Bills for drinks (TABS); 25D: First Arabic letter (ALIF); 26D: Ask for more (REORDER); 27D: Scrubbing brand (SOS); 29D: Soviet news agency (TASS); 31D: Five-time Emmy winner Tina (FEY); 32D: End in __ (A TIE); 33D: Attila, notably (HUN); 34D: Western weapon (TOMAHAWK); 35D: Interstate feature (REST AREA); 36D: Museo display (ARTE); 37D: Fracture treatment (CAST); 38D: Air Force One, e.g. (JET); 41D: Asian holiday (TET); 42D: It's often served with soda (SCOTCH); 43D: End successfully (PAN OUT); 44D: Former NBA star Mourning (ALONZO); 45D: Chinese menu offering (LO MEIN); 47D: Olympics contest, e.g. (EVENT); 48D: Horse __ (SENSE); 49D: Dispensable candy (PEZ); 51D: Hindu sacred text (VEDA); 52D: Decks in a ring (KOS); 54D: Light line (RAY); 55D: "__ been meaning to tell you ..." (I'VE); 56D: "Jeopardy!" great Jennings (KEN).