THEME: Addition-el – letter "L" is added to the beginning of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
This puzzle epitomizes laziness, so my write-up will follow suit. Weak, unimaginative add-a-letter stuff. Talk about phoned in. This feels like someone's practice puzzle. This is the kind of puzzle I would make and then think "well, that was good experience, now I need to try to make something publishable." The theme is not only boring, but the first theme answer is utter FAIL, as LOVEMATCH is a thing, a real thing (in romance as well as tennis), so I was like "OK ... we're adding Rs ..." But then we were adding Ls, and I realized that the base phrase of theme answer 1 was OVERMATCH (talk about massive disappointment: at least LOVE MATCH has some color ... though adding "R" to make LOVER did seem pretty terrible).
- 18A: Hope of one placing a personal ad? (L OVER MATCH)
- 26A: Peruvian worshiper? ("L I'M A BELIEVER") — far and away the best thing about this puzzle.
- 42A: Knock a motorcycle daredevil flat? (L EVEL KNIEVEL) — dull, lifeless stuff.
- 54A: Kid going nuts with building blocks? (L EGOMANIAC) — an old pun.
Best of the nontheme stuff = ZOOM LENS (20A: Camera bag accessory), though that "Z" cross was rough. Despite its "second largest" status, I've never (or barely) heard of GRAZ (1D: Austria's second largest city). The other, bigger "WTF!?" answer was ALLIS (45D: Chalmers's business partner). This means nothing to me. For me, Chalmers is the superintendent of the Springfield School District on "The Simpsons." I would have clued ALLIS as ["_____ not lost!"], though it's more likely I would have rewritten that SW corner entirely so as to avoid something as odd-man-out as ALLIS.
Crosswordese 101: ITER (58A: Roman road) — a Latin word I learned some time during my two years of intensive graduate school Latin. Had no idea it had any clout outside of Latin literature until I started encountering it as an [Anatomical passageway]. In fact, that's the more common clue — the anatomical / biological one. This Latin-specific one (with ITER's literal meaning of "road") is a bit of an anomaly. Or, rather, it's much less common than the medical term. Looking at the cruciverb.com database just now, I see a solid bloc of "road"-oriented clues. ITER is solid crosswordese, one of a reliable group of 4-letter "I" words that are on the table every time you've got to fill out some 4x4 corner of the grid. An anagram of the even more common TERI (one thing tougher than an initial "I" — a terminal "I").
Talk amongst yourselves. I've really got nothing else to say about this puzzle. Oh, wait, one more thing. I like WAMU (57A: Insolvent S&L company) (stands for "Washington Mutual"). I mean I don't like WAMU as an institution, but it's a fresh (if depressing) bit of four-letter fill.
See you Monday.
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