THEME: "Pooped"—Four idiomatic phrases and a word that all mean "really exhausted"
The "five things that mean the same thing" theme can play out as uninspired, but I like the idiomatic zing of 80% of this theme. They added a little spice to a puzzle that otherwise felt like a quick Monday crossword. Except, of course, for all the stacked seven-letter answers in the corners. Those dress up a crossword.
Tuesday's puzzle felt rather Wednesdayish while today's is on the Monday/easy side. I can't remember Monday's puzzle too clearly, but I'm gonna go out on a ledge and say it was a hair Tuesdayish, just to fill in all the slots this week.
Theme answers: all clued with Really exhausted
- 20A: ON ONE'S LAST LEGS. Hey, SethG, that ONE'S for you.
- 28A. READY TO DROP.
- 36A. ENERVATED.
- 47A. TUCKERED OUT. I like to precede that with "plumb."
- 56A. WORN TO A FRAZZLE. I don't say that one at all. "I'm frazzled," sure. Friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook that she'd "edited her brains to a nub." I like the "Worn to a nub" image.
Crosswordese 101: Can this be true? Have we really not talked about EKE here? EEK! (36D: Response to a mouse.) EKE is clued as 29D: ___ out: barely maintain. You know anyone who doesn't do crosswords who talks about "eking out a living"? The EKE clues often go with the "verb (out)" format, with such verbs as squeeze, scratch, scrape, or stretch (out). There's also barely make, with "out" and the ever-popular fill-in-the-blank approach, ___ out a living.
Centuries ago, eke also meant "addition," and people misinterpreted "an eke-name" as "a neke name," and this is the derivation of the word nickname. True etymology story!
- BULWARK! That's a cool word. It means 41D: Defensive wall.
- 8D: Singing Bing (CROSBY). I'll bet at least 10% of the commenters filled this in and then thought, "Maybe we'll get a video of Der Bingle on the blog tomorrow." Here he is with David Bowie. Some stores have Christmas stuff out already, don't they? It's not too soon for "Drummer Boy"?
- 31D: Camp for presidents (DAVID). A friend of mine is friends with the Clintons and has a photo of himself hanging out at Camp David. He says he has no idea where, exactly, Camp David is. He was driven there by Secret Service types. Aw, I wanna go!
- 34A: Creole vegetable (OKRA). I think the bookend vowels are inordinately attractive to constructors because OKRA gets way more play in the puzzle than it does in the average non-Louisiana, non–soul food kitchens of America. I haven't seen it in Indian food, but they sell a lot of OKRA in the Indian groceries on Chicago's Devon Avenue. You know what I prefer? When I was at Carleton College, some students founded an improv troupe called Cujokra.
- 45D: Shrunken Asian lake (ARAL SEA). Look! The crosswordese ARAL gets promoted to fancy seven-letter fill.
Everything Else — 1A: Colored part of the eye (IRIS); 5A: Phonograph records (DISCS); 10A: Become overly dry, as lips (CHAP); 14A: John Wesley's relig. (METH.); 15A: Love to pieces (ADORE); 16A: Country byway (LANE); 17A: Arizona city (MESA); 18A: Fenway Park team, briefly (BOSOX); 19A: Condo or apartment, e.g. (UNIT); 20A23A: "Nevermore" bird of poetry (RAVEN); 24A: Honey maker (BEE); 25A: "... and so on": Abbr. (ETC.); 27A: 11-point blackjack card, at times (ACE); 33A: Copier paper size: Abbr. (LTR.); 35A: Mil. school at Annapolis (USNA); 40A: Bassoon cousin (OBOE); 43A: Big-screen movie format (IMAX); 44A: Observed (SAW); 51A: Mentalist Geller (URI); 52A: Sandwich initials (BLT); 53A: Cereal grain (OAT); 54A: Concrete-reinforcing rod (REBAR); 61A: Ali who stole from thieves (BABA); 62A: Broom rider of the comics (HILDA); 63A: With 66-Across, roadside stop (REST); 64A: Finds in mines (ORES); 65A: King of rock 'n' roll (ELVIS); 66A: See 63-Across (AREA); 67A: Sitcom radio station (WKRP); 68A: Gunslinger's "Hands up!" ("REACH!"); 69A: Afternoon TV fare (SOAP); 1D: Unethical (IMMORAL); 2D: Bring to life again, as a Civil War battle (REENACT); 3D: Romance-ending words (IT'S OVER); 4D: 1953 Alan Ladd Western (SHANE); 5D: Pats gently (DABS); 6D: Object of worship (IDOL); 7D: Sammy in the 600 Home Run Club (SOSA); 9D: Moderate-sized chamber group (SEXTET); 10D: Board game with suspects (CLUE); 11D: Closet assortment (HANGERS); 12D: Jennifer of "Friends" (ANISTON); 13D: House cat, e.g. (PET); 21D: Bankrupt energy company (ENRON); 22D: July-August sign (LEO); 26D: Tax-season advisor, briefly (CPA); 30D: Flight board datum: Abbr. (ARR.); 32D: Faulty firecracker (DUD); 37D: Latin 101 verb (AMO); 38D: Sigma follower (TAU); 39D: Additional (EXTRA); 40D: Horse player's hangout, for short (OTB); 42D: Halloween month (OCTOBER); 44D: Really cold, temperaturewise (SUBZERO); 46D: Furtive listening device (WIRETAP); 48D: Extensive period (EON); 49D: Preferably (RATHER); 50D: Star, in France (ÉTOILE); 55D: Poet Pound and others (EZRAS); 57D: Hoarse sound (RASP); 58D: Edison's middle name (ALVA); 59D: Banking regulatory agcy. (FDIC); 60D: Diaper problem (RASH); 61D: Gift decoration (BOW).