THEME: "I'm a Changed Man"—Two pairs of celebrities with size-related first names swap names
- 18A: "Little" comedian's big brother? (HULK HERMAN). Pee-wee Herman is the comic alter ego of Paul Reubens. I loves me some Pee-wee.
- 26A: "Big" wrestler's little brother? (PEE-WEE HOGAN). I get Hulk Hogan mixed up with Jesse Ventura. Did they both sport ginormous droopy mustaches? Or is that just Hulk? And no, I've never seen the reality show featuring Hulk and his daughter.
- 44A: "Thin" character actor's big brother? (FATS PICKENS). Slim Pickens is...a silly name. And that's really all I know about him. He has a name that sounds like "slim pickings." Slim Whitman was on '70s TV commercials for K-Tel compilations or something. He's my go-to Slim.
- 56A: "Heavy" R&B singer's little brother? (SLIM DOMINO). Luckily, Fats Domino survived Hurricane Katrina four years ago. We all know "Blueberry Hill," so let's go with "Ain't That a Shame":
Crosswordese 101: Today, let's talk about hardware. Sometimes RASP is clued as the sound and sometimes it's the tool. Where are the screwdriver, pliers, wrench, and hammer? They're too long to be crosswordese. But PEENS seems to show up far more often in the puzzle than in my tool-related discourse. You know how there's a ball-peen hammer? PEENS are 32D: Hammerhead part. If you are snickering like a 14-year-old about the words "peen" and "tool" (and don't even look at the 41 clue) come sit with me and we'll snicker together.
And now, my favorite clues and answers:
- 41A: "Horrors!" ("OH NO!"). Answer and clue alike are approximately 7,000 times better in a crossword than AH ME or OH ME, both of which I've seen used.
- 52A: Trivial (PIDDLING). Who doesn't love a word like PIDDLING? What's weird is that piddle means urinate...so I guess it would be redundant to call someone a piddling pissant.
- 2D: "Star Trek" navigator (SULU). Played by John Cho in this summer's movie. That movie wasn't half bad.
- 9D: Slangy word of indifference (MEH). This is a fairly new word, with possible Simpsons roots. As crossword fill goes, I say "yay" to MEH but "meh" to PEENS.
- 30D: Courage, in slang (MOXIE). And a big "yay" to MOXIE. "You've got moxie, kiddo!" Love the moxie.
Everything Else — 1A: PDQ relative (ASAP); 5A: Violin virtuoso Zimbalist (EFREM); 10A: Out of harm's way (SAFE); 14A: "To Sir With Love" singer (LULU); 15A: Decorative sofa fabric (TOILE); 16A: Dagger handle (HILT); 17A: Narrow cut (SLIT); 20A: Blink later than, in a contest (OUTSTARE); 22A: Scooter favored by '60s British mods (VESPA); 23A: "That __ hay!" (AIN'T); 24A: Was indebted to (OWED); 30A: Road trip guide (MAP); 33A: Homeric epic (ILIAD); 34A: Liberal faction, with "the" (LEFT); 35A: Valuable rock (ORE); 36A: Whirling water (EDDY); 37A: Streaker with a tail (COMET); 39A: Grease target (AXLE); 40A: So-so test grade (CEE); 42A: Tabloid creature (ALIEN); 43A: Mess up (ERR); 47A: Big hair style (AFRO); 48A: Conscription category (ONE-A); 49A: Words of sympathy (I CARE); 59A: Computer symbol (ICON); 60A: Put in the hold (LADE); 61A: Piebald horse (PINTO); 62A: River through Saint Petersburg (NEVA); 63A: Gave the once-over (EYED); 64A: Libidinous deity (SATYR); 65A: State, to Sarkozy (ETAT); 1D: Likewise (ALSO); 3D: Got down (ALIT); 4D: Saves (PUTS AWAY); 5D: Odorless gas (ETHANE); 6D: Stick shift gear (FOURTH); 7D: Irritate (RILE); 8D: Yellowstone grazer (ELK); 10D: Destroy, as a paper trail (SHRED); 11D: Intentions (AIMS); 12D: Brouhaha (FLAP); 13D: Europe's highest active volcano (ETNA); 19D: It's what's happening (EVENT); 21D: Made, as a knot (TIED); 24D: Decoratively curved molding (OGEE); 25D: Drift gently (WAFT); 26D: Pie serving (PIECE); 27D: Church leader (ELDER); 28D: Sea duck with prized plumage (EIDER); 29D: "American Me" actor/director Edward James __ (OLMOS); 31D: Senator Specter (ARLEN); 37D: Burn slightly (CHAR); 38D: Not fooled by (ONTO); 39D: Like some batteries (ALKALINE); 41D: Rubbed out, gangster style (OFFED); 42D: Did very well on (ACED); 45D: Like a spitz's ears (POINTY); 46D: Not alfresco (INDOOR); 47D: Packing heat (ARMED); 49D: Key (ISLE); 50D: Modeling medium (CLAY); 51D: Assistant (AIDE); 52D: Pub order (PINT); 53D: Hip-hopper born Tracy Marrow (ICE-T); 54D: Source of a stellar explosion (NOVA); 55D: Pesky biter (GNAT); 57D: Special __: military force (OPS); 58D: "Mamma __!" (MIA).