THEME: ADDLE (65A: Confuse — or what to do to four common phrases to form this puzzle's theme answers) — ADD "LE" to the front of four (reasonably) common expressions to get wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Variation on the "add-a-letter" theme, where theme is revealed by reparsing of ordinary word, e.g. ADDLE -> ADD "LE". I've seen this done with "SPIN" and "TROUT" and probably other words. Results here are mixed. Good: LEs are all added to the same place, i.e. the front of the answers. I like that consistency. Bad: base (pre-LE) phrases are kind of weak, esp. ON TELEVISION. NO LIMIT's not much better. They're just not strong self-standing phrases. GO CRAZY is OK, and ASH WEDNESDAY is just fine. Final (post-LE) phrases are decent, I suppose, but I like when theme entries are built on rock-solid foundations. Also bad: Adding "LE" to a phrase that Already Has An "LE." Ideally, whatever you're adding was not there to begin with.
- 17A: Maximum tolerance for a stand-up comic's jokes? (LENO LIMIT) — this LIMIT is asymptotically approaching ZERO for me.
- 26A: "All Trotsky, all the time" channel? (LEON TELEVISION) — gotta say, I do love this clue.
- 47A: When dogs can't run loose? (LEASH WEDNESDAY)
- 63A: Nuts about Danish toys? (LEGO CRAZY)
Hey, you could do an entirely different puzzle with DO IN as the theme-revealing answer (10D: Knock off). ADOPT PUPIL? DORIC OCASEK? TO AND FRODO? Copyrighted!
[LEGO CRAZY + LOLA (1D: 1970 hit by the Kinks) = ?]
Word of the Day: ISAO AOKI (52A: Senior golfer Aoki) — though it gives me no pleasure, I am getting this twofer out of the way today. ISAO AOKI is a golfer whom only golf fans would know about were it not for crosswords. As it is, the fortuitous combination of letters in both his first and last names has assured him immortality, warranted or not.
I did this puzzle in reasonable time, but I had a serious hold-up near the center of the puzzle. Not where you might suspect — I actually knew NORI (44A: Edible seaweed used for sushi), but just a notch higher, right around where SNARF (38A: Wolf (down)) meets BERN. I had entered SCARF effortlessly and without hesitation on my first pass through the grid, and then couldn't make sense of 24D: Capital northwest of Rome. -ERC? I put the "B" in at the beginning only reluctantly, as CRAB as a verb felt stretchy to me (23A: Gripe). Unless it's a noun ... though that actually feels stretchier. But once I accepted CRAB I had BERC in the Down ... and had to change SCARF to SNARF. Yuck. SNARF is a character from "Thundercats." I see that its definition here is straight out of the dictionary. That doesn't mean I have to like it. But no biggie. It all got done.
- 16A: Longship sailors (NORSE) — nice, tricky clue. If you tried putting an "S" at the end of this answer to start, bad move.
- 4D: You can count on a lot of bucks from one (BRONCO) — took me a stupidly long time to piece this together. Wanted some longer version of ATM.
- 7D: Songwriter Kristofferson (KRIS) — coincidentally, an answer in another daily puzzle published today. Just rewatched "Taxi Driver," in which a KRIS Kristofferson song/album figures prominently. Here is how Hollywood would promote "Taxi Driver" if it were released today — good stuff.
See you Monday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: Symbol of gentleness (LAMB); 5A: Torahs' homes (ARKS); 9A: __ Ababa (ADDIS); 14A: Fridge problem (ODOR); 15A: R-rating reason, perhaps (GORE); 16A: Longship sailors (NORSE); 17A: Maximum tolerance for a stand-up comic's jokes? (LENO LIMIT); 19A: AT&T Park player (GIANT); 20A: Start of a memorable 1961 admonition (ASK NOT); 21A: Force (STRENGTH); 23A: Gripe (CRAB); 25A: Slippery swimmer (EEL); 26A: "All Trotsky, all the time" channel? (LEON TELEVISION); 33A: In favor of (FOR); 34A: Flight-related (AERO); 35A: Clichéd (CORNY); 36A: It's often left in the copier: Abbr. (ORIG.); 38A: Wolf (down) (SNARF); 41A: Mountain ride (BIKE); 42A: Marine threats (ORCAS); 44A: Edible seaweed used for sushi (NORI); 46A: Clear (NET); 47A: When dogs can't run loose? (LEASH WEDNESDAY); 51A: Estuary (RIA); 52A: Senior golfer Aoki (ISAO); 53A: Lover's sweet talk? (NOTHINGS); 58A: Precipitated (CAUSED); 62A: Cuban boy in 2000 news (ELIAN); 63A: Nuts about Danish toys? (LEGO CRAZY); 65A: Confuseóor what to do to four common phrases to form this puzzle's theme answers (ADDLE); 66A: Plus-size supermodel (EMME); 67A: To be, in Brest (ÊTRE); 68A: Hull damagers (REEFS); 69A: Signs of nervousness (TICS); 70A: Interpret, as tea leaves (READ); 1D: 1970 hit by the Kinks (LOLA); 2D: Summer coolers (ADES); 3D: Religious ascetic (MONK); 4D: You can count on a lot of bucks from one (BRONCO); 5D: Stirs up trouble (AGITATES); 6D: CD follower? (ROM); 7D: Songwriter Kristofferson (KRIS); 8D: Den piece (SETTEE); 9D: Saintly (ANGELIC); 10D: Knock off (DO IN); 11D: Big bore (DRAG); 12D: "__ that special!" (ISN'T); 13D: Clockmaker Thomas (SETH); 18D: Doone in Exmoor (LORNA); 22D: Relig. title (REV.); 24D: Capital northwest of Rome (BERN); 26D: He played Ugarte in "Casablanca" (LORRE); 27D: "All My Children" vixen (ERICA); 28D: "___ behold!" (LO AND); 29D: Sad sound (SOB); 30D: Skater Slutskaya (IRINA); 31D: Best way to sing (ON KEY); 32D: Veto from Lenin (NYET); 33D: Mislead (FOOL); 37D: Great time, slangily (GAS); 39D: Rice-A-__ (RONI); 40D: Sistine Chapel features (FRESCOES); 43D: Sacred sites (SHRINES); 45D: "I, Robot" author Asimov (ISAAC); 48D: Come out on top (WIN); 49D: Aerie newborn (EAGLET); 50D: More morose (DOURER); 53D: Adjacent (NEAR); 54D: Quaint retail adjective (OLDE); 55D: Sand castle's undoing (TIDE); 56D: Even share, perhaps (HALF); 57D: Huge hauler (SEMI); 59D: Fill (SATE); 60D: Biblical reformer (EZRA); 61D: Like blue hair (DYED); 64D: Tracker maker (GMC).