Theme: Shoes — Theme answers are familiar(?) phrases the last word of which is a type of shoe. (And there's a SHOE "box" of four squares in each corner of the grid. And no, I totally didn't notice that when I did the puzzle last night.—Orange)
- 17A: Kitchen backups (SINK CLOGS).
- 31A: North Carolina team (TARHEELS).
- 47A: Octane rating sites (GAS PUMPS).
- 64A: Bonneville Speedway feature (SALT FLATS).
- 40A: Container for the end of 17-, 31-, 47 or 64-Across; there's a literal one in each four-square puzzle corner (SHOEBOX).
There are two places where I would bet a lot of you had trouble. The first one is at the cross of KAHUNA (28A: Island big shot) and KLIEG (28D: __ light: filmmaking arc lamp). I thought KAHUNA started with a C, but I've heard of KLIEG lights, so I ended up okay over there. Did some of you stick with the C? Or does everyone but me know that word is spelled with a K? Then, the crossing of OTHO (60D: First century Roman emperor) and DHS (68A: ALers who don't play the field) is just gnarly. I am not one of those people who hates to see sports clues in the puzzles. I actually kind of like them. But if it's going to be a baseball abbreviation, please give me a gettable cross. And not one that, say, could very well be OTTO instead of OTHO. There were four Holy Roman Emperors named OTTO. None of them ruled in the first century, but really, who knows that? It's perfectly reasonable to expect the answer to be OTTO. But, instead, it's this OTHO guy who, by the way, only reigned for three months. So, boo. Also kind of yucky to see both OTHO and OTOE (53D: Oklahoma tribe) in the grid — and please don't get me started on SONO- and ODO- (3D: Prefix with gram / 53A: Prefix with meter).
On the bright side, I noticed a lot of Ks and Xs as I was solving, and those are pretty cool letters. Also, HAS A SHOT AT is an awesome answer (30D: Is in the running for). And it's a treat to see the UTNE READER in its full two-word glory for a change (11D: Eclectic bimonthly digest). Overall, though, not an enjoyable solve for me. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Crosswordese 101: Here are the OMARs you need know:
- Five-star General OMAR Bradley.
- The poet OMAR Khayyám, who wrote "The Rubáiyát," the most famous line of which begins "A jug of wine...."
- OMAR Epps, who co-stars with Hugh Laurie in the medical drama "House."
- OMAR Sharif, who is most often clued in relation to his roles in "Funny Girl" and "Dr. Zhivago," but who we learn today is also, apparently, a bridge expert.
Everything Else — 1A: Dawn goddess (EOS); 4A: Starbucks flavor (MOCHA); 9A: Bring about (CAUSE); 14A: "__ 'nuff!" (SHO); 15A: Saint associated with the Russian alphabet (CYRIL); 16A: Weed B Gon maker (ORTHO); 19A: Took to jail (RAN IN); 20A: Alley Oop's girl (OOOLA); 21A: Displayed (SHOWN); 23A: Minnesota twins? (ENS); 24A: Snootiness (AIRS); 26A: Great server (ACER); 35A: Grassy tracts (LEAS); 36A: Illustrator Silverstein (SHEL); 38A: Rub the wrong away (ERASE); 39A: For what __ worth (IT'S); 42A: Veep before Al (DAN); 43A: Put into law (ENACT); 46A: Clears after taxes (NETS); 49A: Widely separated (SPARSE); 51A: Opposite of away (HOME); 52A: Part of a yard (FOOT); 55A: Astronomer Tycho __ (BRAHE); 58A: Western border lake (TAHOE); 62A: Demolish (TOTAL); 66A: Chicago hub (O'HARE); 67A: Tours ta-ta (ADIEU); 69A: Adlai's running mate (ESTES); 70A: Computer image dot (PIXEL); 71A: Manager Torre (JOE); 1D: Gas sign north of the border (ESSO); 2D: Columbus's home (OHIO); 4D: Obama's opponent (MCCAIN); 5D: Skinny Olive (OYL); 6D: Interbreed (CROSS); 7D: Word with five or noon (HIGH); 9D: General Mills cereal (CORN CHEX); 10D: Heavenly altar (ARA); 12D: __ guard: bit of catchers' gear (SHIN); 13D: Tons of time (EONS); 18D: Actor Kinski (KLAUS); 22D: "This means __!" (WAR); 25D: Itch source (RASH); 27D: Musket end? (-EER); 29D: WellPoint rival (AETNA); 31D: Abounds (TEEMS); 32D: Jessica of "Dark Angel" (ALBA); 33D: Exams for future litigators, briefly (LSATS); 34D: Taste or touch (SENSE); 37D: Hula __ (HOOP); 40D: Trips (STUMBLES); 41D: Thereabouts (OR SO); 44D: USN noncom (CPO); 46D: Birth-related (NATAL); 48D: Sea, to Sartre (MER); 50D: Amount of soup on the stove (POTFUL); 52D: Cartoon cat (FELIX); 54D: Outbursts from Homer (D'OHS); 56D: "Stat!" cousin (ASAP); 57D: "__ only known!" (HAD I); 59D: Meccan pilgrimage (HADJ); 61D: Latin being (ESSE); 63D: "__ you serious?" (ARE); 65D: Top with a slogan (TEE).