THEME: What's that noise? — HUM is added to the beginning of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style.
I should not be able to do a Barry Silk Friday puzzle in under five minutes. Well under five minutes. I would love it if we could jack up the late-week difficulty a tad now. Syndicated solvers should have had time to acclimate to the editorial style of the LAT by now. Time to open up the deep end of the pool again. Clever theme from Mr. Silk, though probably more appropriate to a Wednesday-level puzzle. Once you figure out the theme, those remaining theme answers are really easy to get. I had HUMV- in place before seeing the clue, so I knew it had to go HUMVEE ... and then the "?" told me something wacky was going on, and the first word I could think of to follow VEE was FORMATION. And it fit. Done. Backed into the next theme answer. With -NGVASE in place I knew it had to be HUMMINGVASE. And so on. Stumpers today included HCH (29A: FDR predecessor) — as of right now, I have no idea what the "C" in Hoover's name stands for (it's Clark)— and, for no good reason, PUCKS (5A: Sports disks that can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour after being struck), which took me longer than any other answer to get. Last thing in the grid. Had -U-KS and couldn't make any sense of it. [After being struck] feels redundant. I think it's safe to assume that a disk involved in a sport is not self-propelled.
- 17A: Military vehicle arrangement? (HUMVEE FORMATION)
- 24A: Flower holder that carries a tune? (HUMMING VASE)
- 43A: Ordinary dinner bread? (HUMDRUM ROLL) — rough, as meaning of ROLL shifts here (as it does not shift for VASE or FORMATION or REPLLENT)
- 56A: Chemical that keeps the baloney out? (HUMBUG REPELLENT)
Crosswordese 101: SKYE (63A: Terrier type) — SKYE is also an island off the northwest coast of Scotland, "... the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland." Also the last name of actress IONE SKYE. I believe the IONE/IONA distinction has been covered in another Crosswordese 101 write-up. The IOLA/IOLE distinction will have to wait for another day.
- 35A: 45 years after William I invaded England (MCXI) — FAIL clue.
- 60A: Alamo first name (Davy) — Who knew DAVY Jones was at the Alamo?
- 41D: Title hero in a 1951 opera commissioned for television (Amahl) — possibly the subject of a future Crosswordese 101 segment. "AMAHL and the Night Visitors" is the name of this TV opera, composed by GIAN CARLO MENOTTI.
See you Monday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: Langley et al.: Abbr. (AFBS); 5A: Sports disks that can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour after being struck (PUCKS); 10A: Steinbeck hero Tom (JOAD); 14A: Hint (CLUE); 15A: R&B family name (ISLEY); 16A: Magazine name that's also a pronoun (ELLE); 17A: Military vehicle arrangement? (HUMVEE FORMATION); 20A: How pros do things (EXPERTLY); 21A: "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance" singer (PITNEY); 22A: Through (VIA); 23A: Sacred (HOLY); 24A: Flower holder that carries a tune? (HUMMING VASE); 29A: FDR predecessor (HCH); 32A: __ rings (ONION); 33A: During (AMID); 34A: Revelatory, as a moment (AHA); 35A: 45 years after William I invaded England (MCXI); 36A: Mexican eatery staple (SALSA); 38A: One of the Four Corners states: Abbr. (ARIZ.); 39A: Biblical judge (ELI); 40A: Draped attire (SARI); 41A: Jobs creation (APPLE); 42A: Craving (YEN); 43A: Ordinary dinner bread? (HUMDRUM ROLL); 46A: Low pitch (BASS); 47A: MPG rating group (EPA); 48A: City with a University of Washington campus (TACOMA); 51A: Street entrances (MANHOLES); 56A: Chemical that keeps the baloney out? (HUMBUG REPELLENT); 58A: Get from __: advance slightly (A TO B); 59A: English county bordering Suffolk (ESSEX); 60A: Alamo first name (DAVY); 61A: He sings "Maria" in "West Side Story" (TONY); 62A: Get going (START); 63A: Terrier type (SKYE); 1D: Pang (ACHE); 2D: Continuous change (FLUX); 3D: Speed __ (BUMP); 4D: Golf's Ballesteros (SEVE); 5D: Bakery container (PIE TIN); 6D: Old Glory (US FLAG); 7D: Sate (CLOY); 8D: Plop lead-in (KER-); 9D: Academic conferences (SYMPOSIA); 10D: Breakwater (JETTY); 11D: Lena of "Havana" (OLIN); 12D: Soothing skin treatment (ALOE); 13D: Opposite of grant (DENY); 18D: Watergate senator Sam (ERVIN); 19D: Didn't feel well (AILED); 23D: Canned meats (HAMS); 24D: Warm and comfy (HOMEY); 25D: Family reunion attendee (UNCLE); 26D: Add to the concoction (MIX IN); 27D: French pronoun (MOI); 28D: Logically sound (VALID); 29D: Silent film star? (HARPO); 30D: Relax, slangily (CHILL); 31D: Eye shade (HAZEL); 36D: Kielbasas, e.g. (SAUSAGES); 37D: Pentagon topic (ARMS); 38D: Auto loan letters (APR); 40D: SeaWorld favorite (SHAMU); 41D: Title hero in a 1951 opera commissioned for television (AMAHL); 44D: Grim figure? (REAPER); 45D: On deck (UP NEXT); 46D: Ewing whose ex-wife dreamt an entire season of "Dallas" (BOBBY); 48D: "Imagine __!" (THAT); 49D: Monte Carlo, e.g. (AUTO); 50D: "Let's go!" ("C'MON!"); 51D: Monument Valley sight (MESA); 52D: Cutlass automaker (OLDS); 53D: Security problem (LEAK); 54D: It's a sin (ENVY); 55D: Eye sore (STYE); 57D: 18, 19 and 20 in a series (RST).