THEME: IXNAY! (60A: Slangy turndown and a hint to how 17-, 22-, 32-, 47- and 51-Across are formed) — take familiar phrases, say "NAY" to (i.e take out) the "IX," and get new wacky phrases; clue said phrases "?"-style; lather rinse repeat; stir
I feel like there should be a massive balloon drop to celebrate the return of (some) difficulty to late-week LAT puzzles! OK, so I can't really call a puzzle that took me 5+ minutes to do "difficult," but it's a Hell of a lot better than the softballs we've been getting the last few months. I actually had to think. A lot. Yay thinking! This is a really snazzy and well-executed puzzle, with a great theme-revealing word — IXNAY — that serves as a really effective exclamation point for the whole thing. Got the theme (or so I believed) at DON QUOTE, but then when I had some trouble getting into MISTER FIT, I thought maybe the removed letters weren't going to be the same in every case. Like ... maybe all kinds of different Roman numerals were going to get yanked out of theme answers, like VI and CL and what not. But no. Just the IXs.
- 17A: Health nut? (MISTER FIT) — from "Mr. Fix-It"
- 22A: "Make him an offer he can't refuse," e.g.? (DON QUOTE) — from "Don Quixote"
- 32A: Where hogs go hog-wild? (SWINGING STIES) — from "Swinging Sixties" (idea of swinger pigs = highly amusing)
- 47A: DVDs? (NON-TAPES) — from "Nixon tapes"
- 51A: Cocktails at an exotic resort club? (MED DRINKS) — from "mixed drinks"; this one felt iffiest. It's "Club MED" and only ever "Club MED"; been to several, never heard anyone use "MED" independently.
Crosswordese 101: EVAN Hunter (18A: Author Hunter) — If you know him at all, you probably know him better as Ed McBain, the name under which he had a prolific and successful crime fiction-writing career. One of the very first vintage paperbacks in my now enormous collection was a first edition 50s paperback edition of "The Mugger." Super fantastic (book on right is from my collection as well). EVAN could show up as the name of any number of people, but Hunter is a favorite way to clue it. Look also for baseball's EVAN Longoria, 2008 All-Star and American League Rookie of the Year. Then try not to get him confused with EVA Longoria (39A: Longoria of "Desperate Housewives").
- 26A: Eightfold (OCTUPLE) — really wanted the (made-up?) adverb OCTUPLY.
- 36A: Satirist Mort (SAHL) — see also the far less common [Satirist Freberg] => STAN.
- 40A: Source of 20s, for short (ATM) — I could not, for the life of me, figure out what "20s" was supposed to mean until I got the answer from crosses. D'oh! Did you know it's AUTOMATED Teller Machine and not AUTOMATIC. I found this out the hard way while doing Frank Longo's extremely awesome and brutally difficult "Vowelless Crosswords," which everyone who likes challenging puzzles really must own. Hours and hours of solving fun/torture for an obscenely low price (66 puzzles, 8 bucks).
- 57A: Stiller's comedy partner (MEARA) — love her. As many of you know, one of the highlights of my blogging career was getting an email from her correcting some mistake I made in a write-up.
- 2D: California city near Vandenberg Air Force Base (LOMPOC) — yikes. Pulled this, eventually, from god knows where. This must be an answer designed to give the puzzle a certain California flavor (NYT does similar provincial stuff from time to time).
- 6D: Reproductive cell (GAMETE) — I had ZYGOTE ...
- 10D: "I don't get it" (GO FIGURE) — I didn't get it either, not until I had nearly every cross. "GOTIGURE? GOMIGURE?"
- 25D: Two-wheeled artillery wagons (CAISSONS) — they go rolling along in that song about war that I half-way know.
- 30D: Notable 1969 bride (ONO) — The notable 1970 death of the Beatles followed shortly thereafter.
- 33D: Battered repeatedly, in slang (WHALED ON) — always want to spell this "WAILED ON." Correct spelling brings to mind images of one man flogging another with a sea mammal.
- 43D: Biological divisions (GENERA) — Latin plural of "GENUS."
That is all. See you Monday.
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Everything Else — 1A: Angle (SLANT); 6A: Like disco dancers (GO-GO); 10A: "Wow" (GEE); 13A: Explorer __ de León (PONCE); 14A: Structural sci. (ANAT.); 15A: Nightclub in a Manilow song (COPA); 16A: Atlanta university (EMORY); 17A: Health nut? (MISTER FIT); 19A: Prefix with dermal (EPI-); 20A: PC support person (TECH); 21A: Village paper? (VOICE); 22A: "Make him an offer he can't refuse," e.g.? (DON QUOTE); 25A: Toy in a holster (CAP GUN); 26A: Eightfold (OCTUPLE); 27A: Winter mo. (JAN.); 28A: Arg. neighbor (URU); 29A: IM provider (AOL); 30A: Arles assent (OUI); 31A: Get ready, briefly (PREP); 32A: Where hogs go hog-wild? (SWINGING STIES); 36A: Satirist Mort (SAHL); 37A: Blood classification letters (ABO); 38A: "__ who?" (SEZ); 39A: Longoria of "Desperate Housewives" (EVA); 40A: Source of 20s, for short (ATM); 41A: Spokane university (GONZAGA); 45A: Comfort for a griever (SOLACE); 47A: DVDs? (NONTAPES); 48A: Concert venue (ARENA); 49A: Takes to court (SUES); 50A: Tolkien tree creature (ENT); 51A: Cocktails at an exotic resort club? (MED DRINKS); 53A: Bugs chaser (ELMER); 55A: Greek love god (EROS); 56A: Lighten up? (DIET); 57A: Stiller's comedy partner (MEARA); 58A: Form 1040 ID (SSN); 59A: Lhasa __ (APSO); 60A: Slangy turndown, and a hint to how 17-, 22-, 32-, 47- and 51-Across are formed (IXNAY); 1D: Swimwear brand (SPEEDO); 2D: California city near Vandenberg Air Force Base (LOMPOC); 3D: Consecrate using oil (ANOINT); 4D: Big name in 40-Acrosses (NCR); 5D: Mystery writer Josephine (TEY); 6D: Reproductive cell (GAMETE); 7D: In the cooler (ON ICE); 8D: Deep wound (GASH); 9D: Polo Grounds hero (OTT); 10D: "I don't get it" ("GO FIGURE"); 11D: Gastronomes (EPICURES); 12D: Gone from the plate (EATEN UP); 15D: Photoshop command (CROP); 18D: Author Hunter (EVAN); 20D: Turnpike collection spot (TOLL GATE); 23D: Small game bird (QUAIL); 24D: Resting atop (UPON); 25D: Two-wheeled artillery wagons (CAISSONS); 27D: "A __ of Wine, a Loaf of Bread ..." (JUG); 30D: Notable 1969 bride (ONO); 31D: Food in a flat box (PIZZA); 32D: 11-Down, e.g. (SAVORERS); 33D: Battered repeatedly, in slang (WHALED ON); 34D: ThinkPad maker (IBM); 35D: Camp shelter (TENT); 36D: Bun seeds (SESAMES); 40D: Rent-__ (A-CAR); 41D: Attends (GOES TO); 42D: Tarzan, e.g. (APEMAN); 43D: Biological divisions (GENERA); 44D: Down a sinful path (ASTRAY); 46D: Additions (ANDS); 47D: Zaps in a microwave (NUKES); 49D: Salon sound (SNIP); 52D: Pocatello's state: Abbr. (IDA); 53D: Brit. record label (EMI); 54D: Latin law (LEX).