THEME: "Feeling good, Louis!"—Four phrases begin with words that mean "healthy"
It took me a while to see what the theme was here. That was complicated a tad by the Across eight-letter answers, which looked like they could be part of the theme—SOB STORY and LOUSED UP are just good fill, though, not theme entries.
- 17A: Hydration from underground (WELL WATER).
- 29A: Thunder on a radio show, e.g. (SOUND EFFECT).
- 45A: In a rage (FIT TO BE TIED).
- 61A: House majority leader of the early 1970s (HALE BOGGS).. He died in '72, when I was six. I wasn't following congressional politics much at that age.
Crosswordese 101: We have some compelling runners-up here, but the victor is the Latin word ESSE (59D: Being, to Caesar). That's the Latin infinitive "to be," just as ETRE is the French equivalent and ESTAR is "to be" in Spanish. Common clues you might see the next time ESSE is in the puzzle: Start of North Carolina's motto; Latin being; Latin 101 verb; In ___ (actually); To be, to Tiberius; Being, to Brutus. Do I know how to conjugate this verb? Not at all.
Rex and PuzzleGirl, here are some candidates for future lessons: 43A: Uncover, poetically (OPE); 66A: Baseball Hall of Famer Speaker (TRIS); 2D: Utah city (OREM); and 57D: Taj Mahal city (AGRA).
What else have we got here?
- In the "Make up your mind already" category, we have battling pronouncements: "I'M READY!" (21A: "All set!") and "I'M LATE" (56A: White Rabbit's cry). I can't find a good video showing SpongeBob's little "I'm ready, I'm ready" song, but you know what's so much better? This one. Plankton, the hapless evil genius, has some rather dark ideas about fun:
- 40A: Undiversified, as a farm clues the adjective ONE-CROP. I like to use that metaphorically. "This relationship is so ONE-CROP. I feel stifled."
- 69A: Not tagged in time (SAFE). As in the baseball call.
- 67A: Cousins of hamlets (TOWNS). Hmm, I wonder if Bruce and Stella originally had a trickier clue, Hamlets' cousins. I like clues that fool you by playing with capital letters—small-h hamlet is a town, while big-H Hamlet is the moody Dane.
- 1D: Dog's dogs? (PAWS). I don't think I've ever once said "My dogs are barking" to mean "my feet are tired," but I know it's a common enough phrase. Cute clue.
- 9D: Payment from a contestant (ENTRY FEE). Hey, if you're planning to attend this winter's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, you should be aware that the dates have changed: February 19-21, 2010.
- 43D: Tie settlers, for short (OTS). Meaning overtimes that settle a tied game. Anyone try to understand this clue as being about pioneer-type settlers?
Everything Else — 1A: Pea holders (PODS); 5A: Get ready for surgery (PREP); 9A: Beethoven's "Für __" (ELISE); 14A: Geometry product (AREA); 15A: Victoria or Geneva (LAKE); 16A: Zapped in the microwave (NUKED); 19A: Prevailing tendency (TREND); 20A: Horseshoer's workshop (SMITHY); 23A: Excuse designed to elicit sniffles (SOB STORY); 26A: Busy pro in Apr. (CPA); 34A: Test the weight of (HEFT); 36A: To this day (YET); 37A: Bird on a dollar (EAGLE); 38A: Minimally (AT LEAST); 42A: Old French money (FRANC); 44A: Head of France? (TÊTE); 49A: "The Waste Land" poet's monogram (TSE); 50A: Made a mess of (LOUSED UP); 52A: Mouth the lyrics (LIP SYNC); 60A: Arm of the sea (INLET); 64A: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" author (STOWE); 65A: Has regrets about (RUES); 68A: Leave the stage (EXIT); 3D: Sandwich seller (DELI); 4D: Seasons, as fries (SALTS); 5D: Hedonistic fellows (PLAYBOYS); 6D: Maze scurrier (RAT); 8D: Sentence ender (PERIOD); 10D: Tackle box item (LURE); 11D: It sells a lot of build-it-yourself furniture (IKEA); 12D: E-mail command (SEND); 13D: Swirling current (EDDY); 18D: "__ on first?" (WHO'S); 22D: Desert Storm ration, for short (MRE); 24D: Mutton fat (SUET); 25D: Explosive compound (TNT); 26D: Grain husks separated in threshing (CHAFF); 27D: Lab dish inventor (PETRI); 28D: G sharp's equivalent (A FLAT); 30D: It's not fiction (FACT); 31D: "Snowy" wader (EGRET); 32D: Stops bleeding (CLOTS); 33D: Conical residence (TEPEE); 35D: Shelter for roughing it (TENT); 39D: Altar attendants (ACOLYTES); 40D: Aunt Bee's grandnephew (OPIE); 41D: Most destitute (NEEDIEST); 46D: "__ voyage!" (BON); 47D: Game often played with a 24-card deck (EUCHRE); 48D: Make absurdly easy, with "down" (DUMB); 51D: Novelists' creations (PLOTS); 52D: Letter-to-Santa itemization (LIST); 53D: Totally enjoying (INTO); 54D: Clear the snow (PLOW); 55D: Attached with thread (SEWN); 58D: "Woohoo, the weekend!" ("TGIF!"); 62D: "La Cage __ Folles" (AUX); 63D: Wahine's gift (LEI).