THEME: Simon & Schuster — S&S phrases all around
Not a lot to say about this one. S&S phrases. There they are. Pretty ordinary. No spicy long Downs to add interest to the grid. Well, GUESS WHO? is OK (37D: Phone caller's "Bet you don't recognize my voice!") — esp. the clue — and HAZELNUT does have a "Z" in it (10D: Coffee flavoring — yuck to flavored coffees), but overall, this puzzle is a placeholder. It's solid and inoffensive. It's also 5/8 edible (more if you start throwing in the non-theme fill like KIWI, TATER, etc.)
- 19A: What little girls are made of, so it's said (SUGAR & SPICE)
- 33A: Out of harm's way (SAFE & SOUND)
- 40A: Light lunch (SOUP & SALAD) — modern versions of this meal are not necessarily "light"
- 55A: Pleasantly concise (SHORT & SWEET)
Today, a lesson in terminology. Specifically, the term "cheater squares"; these are black squares that are added to make the grid more convenient to fill, but that do not change the overall word count of the puzzle. You can see examples today right before CHAR (5A) and after ERST (67A). Sometimes these are unavoidable, or they improve fill possibilities so much that they end up being very useful. But in general, if possible, they are to be avoided. In this case, given the grid, it was probably going to be very hard to get a workable seven-letter Down with the pattern ---A--F. F-ending words can be kind of rough, and past a certain length you're going to be relying on two-word phrases ending "IF" or "OFF" or "OF" a lot. Of course if you add a cheater in one pace, another pops up symmetrically on the other half of the grid. There's no way L--D--- should have forced a cheater, so that one's just there for symmetry's sake.
Crosswordese 101: ATTS (39A: Courtroom figs.) — well, they can't all be pretty or interesting. This (alleged) shorthand for ATTorneyS comes up a lot in crossword grids, but man I hate it, esp. in plural. One of those "avoid if at all possible" answers. I like ATTY as an abbrev. for ATTorney much better than I like ATT. ATT has brand-name clue possibilities (sometimes it's how AT&T shows up in the grid, e.g. [Call letters?]
- 18A: Reformer for whom a Bible book is named (EZRA) — "Reformer?" Man, I really should read that book one of these days? :)
- 23A: The Blue Jays, on scoreboards (TOR) — Not this October. The A.L. playoffs involve NYY, BOS, LAA, and ... MIN or DET (one-game playoff tomorrow!).
- 54D: Start of a request to a genie ("I WISH") — goes nicely with 22A: first I WISH, then I GET IT!
[this makes me unspeakably happy]
- 12D: Genetic initials (DNA) — did you know that "genetic initials" anagrams to "I INCITE GENITALS?" Well, now you do.
See you Friday,
Everything Else — 1A: Precious stones (GEMS); 5A: Burn a bit (CHAR); 9A: Roe source (SHAD); 13A: Most eligible for the draft (ONE-A); 14A: Like a snowy landscape (WHITE); 15A: "Royal" nuisance (PAIN); 16A: Put in pigeonholes (SORT); 17A: Duncan __: cake mix brand (HINES); 18A: Reformer for whom a Bible book is named (EZRA); 19A: What little girls are made of, so it's said (SUGAR AND SPICE); 22A: "That makes sense" ("I GET IT"); 23A: The Blue Jays, on scoreboards (TOR); 24A: Place for a napkin (LAP); 27A: Prof's degree (PH.D.); 28A: Spat (TIFF); 31A: C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of __" (NARNIA); 33A: Out of harm's way (SAFE AND SOUND); 35A: Border (EDGE); 38A: Prior to, poetically (ERE); 39A: Courtroom figs. (ATTS.); 40A: Light lunch (SOUP AND SALAD); 45A: "Queen of Soul" Franklin (ARETHA); 46A: Supermarket checkout unit (ITEM); 47A: Rainbow shape (ARC); 50A: Hesitant sounds (UMS); 51A: Mexican Mrs. (SRA.); 53A: "Beats me" (NO IDEA); 55A: Pleasantly concise (SHORT AND SWEET); 59A: Fuzzy fruit (KIWI); 61A: "Shucks!" ("AW GEE!"); 62A: Castaway's spot (ISLE); 63A: Post-workout woe (ACHE); 64A: Spud (TATER); 65A: Use a swizzle stick (STIR); 66A: Modernists (NEOS); 67A: Previously, old-style (ERST); 68A: Coop residents (HENS); 1D: Grapevine news (GOSSIP); 2D: Sufficient (ENOUGH); 3D: Combined two companies into one (MERGED); 4D: Occupied, as a desk (SAT AT); 5D: Goatee's location (CHIN); 6D: __ legs: rear extremities (HIND); 7D: '50s nuclear experiment (A-TEST); 8D: Answer (RESPOND); 9D: Designer's detail, briefly (SPEC); 10D: Coffee flavoring (HAZELNUT); 11D: What we breathe (AIR); 12D: Genetic initials (DNA); 14D: "Just suppose ..." ("WHAT IF ..."); 20D: Beatles meter maid (RITA); 21D: Some savings plans, for short (IRAS); 25D: "__ That a Shame": Domino hit (AIN'T); 26D: Writing tablets (PADS); 29D: Supply meals for (FEED); 30D: Iran's official language (FARSI); 32D: Thoroughfare (ROAD); 33D: Labor Day mo. (SEPT.); 34D: Tidy (NEAT); 35D: Jacob's twin (ESAU); 36D: College housing (DORM); 37D: Phone caller's "Bet you don't recognize my voice!" ("GUESS WHO!"); 41D: Facetious "Of course" ("AH SO"); 42D: Tell a story (NARRATE); 43D: Mortgage bank, e.g. (LENDER); 44D: Andy's old radio partner (AMOS); 47D: "__ Fideles": Christmas carol (ADESTE); 48D: Land, as a fish (REEL IN); 49D: Supplies food for, as an affair (CATERS); 52D: Engaged in battle (AT WAR); 54D: Start of a request to a genie (I WISH); 56D: Goes in haste (HIES); 57D: FBI employees (AGTS.); 58D: Depilatory product (NEET); 59D: Wichita's state: Abbr. (KAN.); 60D: Hockey surface (ICE).