THEME: "Tie the Knot"—Four phrases begin with kinds of KNOTs
I didn't grasp the theme after I had the first two theme entries, but once GRANNY reared her head, I knew the puzzle had a knack for knots.
- 17A: Life insurance clause (DOUBLE INDEMNITY). Is a double knot an official sailing/scouting/knot-tying sort of knot? Wait, it's the shoelace double bow I'm thinking of. Yes! There is probably a double knot. As for Double Indemnity, I've never seen the movie.
- 25A: Hoedown activity (SQUARE DANCE). The square knot is, the dictionary tells me, a particular kind of double knot. But "double knot" is not an entry in that dictionary. You know what you might find at a hoedown or SQUARE DANCE? Bales of hay for decoration. PuzzleGirl knows a woman from her school committee who knows where to go to find hay bales, but she's not gonna do it. There was a memo to that effect. As Joan Crawford is to wire hangers, that committee member is to hay bales.
- 43A: Apple variety (GRANNY SMITH). I used to love those apples but then I remembered that sweet is better than sour. A granny knot is a square knot that's gone awry so the rope may slip.
- 54A: Inadvertent remark (Slip of the tongue). The slip knot can be undone by pulling on it. Don't use this to tie up your horse or your boat or your child, or you may lose them.
- 62D: 17-, 25-, 43- and 54-Across begin with a kind of one (KNOT). Exactly where we like to find the Grand Unifying Answer, in the slot for the very last Across answer.
- 15A: Known as "the Impaler," prince who inspired "Dracula" (VLAD). Halloween is nigh. How about a creepy Dracula movie clip? Here's the first 10 minutes of the 1931 classic with Bela Lugosi (and parts 2 through 8 contain the rest of the movie). Skip ahead to about the 5:45 mark if you want to get straight to the coffins.
- 22A: Posh (RITZY). Aw, too bad I just embedded a video. It's too soon to have another one, so no Taco's "Puttin' on the Ritz" today.
- 25D: Missouri city nickname (ST. JOE). I may or may not have been through there, years ago. Is there...is there hay there?
- 26D: Fundamental particle (QUARK).
How difficult was this puzzle? By my metric, it's as hard as an easy Wednesday NYT, and harder than the typical Tuesday. How about that? A Wednesday L.A. Times puzzle that lands in Wednesday NYT territory! I like this.
Crosswordese 101: Holy bear in the sky! Can it be? Have we really not covered URSA and its Latin plural URSAE by now? 60A: Bears, in Latin are URSAE. We see the singular form much, much more often. The constellation we call the Big Dipper is part of a larger star group called Ursa Major, or the Great Bear. Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, includes the Little Dipper. Fill-in-the-blank clues that end with Minor or Major are usually URSA. Other popular clues include celestial bear, sky bear, and bear in the air.
Everything Else — 1A: Run smoothly (FLOW); 5A: Uzi filler (AMMO); 9A: Bench warmers aren't on it (A TEAM); 14A: Excellent (A-ONE); 15A: Known as "the Impaler," prince who inspired "Dracula" (VLAD); 16A: American competitor (DELTA); 17A: Life insurance clause (DOUBLE INDEMNITY); 20A: Printers' widths (EMS); 21A: A deadly sin (ENVY); 22A: Posh (RITZY); 23A: Neurologist's test, briefly (EEG); 24A: Publicizes (AIRS); 25A: Hoedown activity (SQUARE DANCE); 30A: Poor, as an excuse (SAD); 33A: Second most populous Oklahoma city (TULSA); 34A: Alan of "The West Wing" (ALDA); 35A: Marquis de __ (SADE); 36A: Youngest of the musical Jacksons (JANET); 37A: Golfer's concern (LIE); 38A: Mass of grass (CLUMP); 39A: Vocalized (ORAL); 40A: Defendant's answer (PLEA); 41A: Accountant's review (AUDIT); 42A: Barely squeeze (out) (EKE); 43A: Apple variety (GRANNY SMITH); 45A: Petting places (ZOOS); 46A: BMOC, for one (VIP); 47A: Washington neighbor (IDAHO); 49A: Yoked beasts (OXEN); 51A: Psychic's asset, for short (ESP); 54A: Inadvertent remark (SLIP OF THE TONGUE); 57A: Common news hr. (TEN PM); 58A: "I'd advise against it" ("DON'T"); 59A: Brand with a paw print in its logo (IAMS); 60A: Bears, in Latin (URSAE); 61A: Pump or loafer (SHOE); 62A: 17-, 25-, 43- and 54-Across begin with a kind of one (KNOT); 1D: Lose brightness (FADE); 2D: Weaver's machine (LOOM); 3D: "We're treating" (ONUS); 4D: Surfing area with no water, with "the" (WEB); 5D: Get even for (AVENGE); 6D: LXII x XVII (MLIV); 7D: Quite a few (MANY); 8D: Unusual (ODD); 9D: Regard highly (ADMIRE); 10D: Portable shelters (TENTS); 11D: Part of QE2: Abbr. (ELIZ.); 12D: ABA member (ATTY.); 13D: Perhaps will (MAY); 18D: Ogle (LEER AT); 19D: "Fear of Flying" author Jong (ERICA); 23D: Painter's stand (EASEL); 24D: Like llamas (ANDEAN); 25D: Missouri city nickname (ST. JOE); 26D: Fundamental particle (QUARK); 27D: Radii neighbors (ULNAE); 28D: City in which the State Fair of Texas is held annually (DALLAS); 29D: Out of this world (ALIEN); 30D: Riyadh resident (SAUDI); 31D: Fess up (ADMIT); 32D: Pool measurement (DEPTH); 35D: Batter's dry spell (SLUMP); 38D: Vegas attraction (CASINO); 40D: Evidence (PROOF); 43D: End a vacation, say (GO HOME); 44D: Mimieux of "The Time Machine" (YVETTE); 45D: Mothers of Invention musician (ZAPPA); 47D: Robert of "The Sopranos" (ILER); 48D: Cacophonies (DINS); 49D: "Whoops!" ("OH OH!"); 50D: Strange: Pref. (XENO-); 51D: Alaska's first governor (EGAN); 52D: Japanese wrestling (SUMO); 53D: Nuisance (PEST); 54D: Early Beatle Sutcliffe (STU); 55D: NFL six-pointers (TDS); 56D: Ending with beat (NIK).