Theme: Dodo Bird — Clues to the theme answers are all homophones of doe.
- 17A: Doe (ANONYMOUS PERSON).
- 27A: Do (KEY NOTE IN A SCALE).
- 49A: Dough (BREAD BAKING NEED).
- 65A: D'oh (HOMER SIMPSON CRY).
And, of course, I would rather see the possessive in the last theme answer (i.e., Homer Simpson's cry). It's perfectly legit the way it is but, again, it just feels off to me. The reason some people don't like this kind of theme is that the theme answers themselves are not typically in-the-language phrases. That doesn't bother me much, but I would like the theme answers to be really coherent and make sense.
But, ya know what? Theme answers were all gettable from the crosses and other than my nitpicking, this was another breezy Tuesday. I'm guessing you didn't have a whole lot of trouble with it.
Crosswordese 101: How is it possible that we haven't talked about the ERN yet?! The only tricky thing about ERN is that it can also be spelled ERNE and with the spelling we have today, there are other ways to clue it (e.g., "Directional suffix"). There are certainly other three- and four-letter birds that show up in puzzles (the legendary ROC and the warbling WREN, for example), but if the clue is today's 36A: Coastal bird or "Sea eagle," or includes the words marine, shore, fish-eating, raptor, or predator, you're probably looking at an ERN(E).
- 5A: Young reporters (CUBS). This feels old-timey to me. Do journalists still use it? I'm definitely not complaining, I think it's awesome. I'm just wondering.
- 21A: French monarch (ROI). Can never remember if its ROI or REI (which is Portuguese).
- 25A: Maker of ergonomic kitchenware (OXO). Not a big fan. They always look really cool, but they don't work as well as you'd think they would based on their price.
- 38A: Dentist's directive (BRUSH). Raise your hand if you entered RINSE at first.
- 55A: __ acetate: banana oil (AMYL). Had to get this one through the crosses.
- 59A: Hitter's stat (RBI). Have you all read Michael Lewis's Moneyball? It's a book about baseball that rests on the premise that on-base percentage and slugging percentage are way more important than the statistics that are typically relied on (like RBI and batting average). I'm only an occasional baseball fan, but the book is fascinating and funny. Worth a look!
- 61A: Duke Ellington's "Take the __" (A TRAIN). When I lived in New York, I used to take the A train to get home, so I always had this song stuck in my head.
- 70A: Altar exchanges (I DOS). I like this and I'll tell you why. Sometimes it seems like constructors just tack an S onto the end of a word because they need help making it fit into the grid. But in this case, the plural is actually something people are likely to say.
- 4D: Hustler (CONMAN).
- 11D: Canadian gas sign (ESSO). We just talked about this two days ago! Please tell me you got it with no problem!
- 19D: "Finding Nemo" studio (PIXAR). If you solved yesterday's New York Times puzzle, you had this one right in the front of your brain. (Hi, Kevin! Does Kevin read us over here?)
- 31D: Pres., vis-à-vis the armed forces (CIC). Read this as press at first and had no idea what it was going for. CIC stands for Commander in Chief.
- 50D: White 66-Down, e.g. (ALBINO). Random! This seems like an awfully long way to go just to include a referential clue, which nobody really likes anyway.
- 55D: One giving Starbuck orders? (AHAB). I had No Idea the coffee place was named after a Herman Melville character! Every Single Day you learn something new!!