THEME: DOUBLE PLAYS (37A: Baseball coups, and a hint to the homophonic relationship in the sequence of first words in 18-, 24-, 54- and 61-Across) — sequence in question reads WON (1), TOO (2), FOR (4), ATE (8), the punned-on number doubling with each successive answer
Nice, relatively wide-open grid today, especially for a themed puzzle. Starting with long theme answers tends to restrict what you can do with the grid, and tends to keep the possibilities for big open spaces such as we see in the NW and SE (with the three long Downs). I'm tepid toward the theme. Cute idea, but the homonyms aren't interesting in and of themselves, and don't tend to lead off very interesting phrases. Also don't really like the ALL in ATE IT ALL UP. ATE IT UP would be a perfectly fine answer for that clue — which makes me wonder if there weren't other 10-letter phrases starting with ATE out there to choose from. Good action in the Downs today, particularly CARBINE, SALIVATE, POOL HALL, and HOV LANE. Wince factor is very low. Strangely, had the most trouble at intersection of RUB and BAA. Despite having taught Shakespeare before, it took me a while to come with the "aye, there's the RUB" meaning of RUB today. Profanity ahead. You were warned.
- 18A: Barely came out on top (WON BY A NOSE)
- 24A: Overly taxing (TOO MUCH TO HANDLE)
- 54A: Temporarily (FOR THE TIME BEING)
- 61A: Really enjoyed something (ATE IT ALL UP)
Crosswordese 101: ISOLDE (11D: She had a tryst with Tristan) — useful for her half-vowel profile and her common-letters-in-odd-places shape. Also useful for the tryst/Tristan pun, on full display here today. In Arthurian lit, she is known as Iseult (ISOLDE is Wagner's spelling). Tristan is entrusted to bring Iseult home to marry King Mark, but en route I & T consume a love potion and fall hopelessly, passionately in love. Hot sex and tragedy ensue.
- 69A: Another name for hopscotch (POTSY) — learned this (years ago) from crosswords. As I said at the time, I know only one POTSY, and he is friends with Richie and Ralph.
- 9D: Joseph of ice cream fame (EDY) — is this day 2 for this guy? He's really striking out on his own. Screw you, Dreyer!
- 57D: Chair designer Charles (EAMES) — the essence of mid-century modern design. Simple, functional, elegant.
- 8D: Comics explosion (KABOOM) — I'm a sucker for all things comic book. Love it.
See you Monday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: Young ones (LADS); 5A: Court smash (SPIKE); 10A: Epitaph word (LIES); 14A: Attending to the assignment (ON IT); 15A: "Alas" ("SO SAD"); 16A: Biblical twin (ESAU); 17A: Check out (CASE); 18A: Barely came out on top (WON BY A NOSE); 20A: How some bonds are bought (AT PAR); 22A: John abroad (LOO); 23A: Irked (RILED); 24A: Overly taxing (TOO MUCH TO HANDLE); 27A: Some dashes (EMS); 28A: Farm cry (BAA); 29A: Group with a lot of hits? (MOB); 30A: Series opener? (ESS); 31A: No longer gray, say (DYED); 33A: "Kidnapped" author's monogram (RLS); 35A: Big cheese (VIP); 37A: Baseball coups, and a hint to the homophonic relationship in the sequence of first words in 18-, 24-, 54- and 61-Across (DOUBLE PLAYS); 41A: Prefix with center (EPI-); 42A: Song syllable (TRA); 43A: You might make one with a Hamilton Beach DrinkMaster (MALT); 46A: Classical dance gp. (ABT); 49A: __ Balls: chocolate cake snacks (SNO); 51A: Musician Brian (ENO); 53A: Caligula's card count? (LII); 54A: Temporarily (FOR THE TIME BEING); 58A: Achille __: hijacked ship (LAURO); 59A: Ivy League nickname (ELI); 60A: No spendthrift (SAVER); 61A: Really enjoyed something (ATE IT ALL UP); 64A: Lansbury Broadway role (MAME); 65A: Dole (METE); 66A: Soft fleece (LLAMA); 67A: Hot times in Paris (ÉTÉS); 68A: Winged god (EROS); 69A: Another name for hopscotch (POTSY); 70A: Kerry and Kirk of Mass., e.g. (SENS); 1D: Found (LOCATED); 2D: Gray topic (ANATOMY); 3D: Inclined (to) (DISPOSED); 4D: Iron horse power (STEAM); 5D: Vienna-to-Rome dir. (SSW); 6D: Place to find cues (POOL HALL); 7D: Playground comeback (IS NOT); 8D: Comics explosion (KABOOM); 9D: Joseph of ice cream fame (EDY); 10D: Russian revolutionary (LENIN); 11D: She had a tryst with Tristan (ISOLDE); 12D: Art supporters (EASELS); 13D: Soft leathers (SUEDES); 19D: Mecca's peninsula (ARABIA); 21D: Obstacle (RUB); 25D: Semiautomatic rifle (CARBINE); 26D: It's reserved for ones in a pool (HOV LANE); 32D: Buck's mate (DOE); 34D: Match unit (SET); 36D: British novelist Barbara __ (PYM); 38D: Result (UPSHOT); 39D: Coverage charges (PREMIUMS); 40D: Show great anticipation, informally (SALIVATE); 44D: They can be offensive (LINEMEN); 45D: Jungle female (TIGRESS); 46D: Burning (AFLAME); 47D: Traditional barbershop quartet hat (BOATER); 48D: Honest with (TRUETO); 50D: Opera with the aria "Qui trarrò Cassio" (OTELLO); 52D: Baby docs (OBS); 55D: Takes a shot at (TRIES); 56D: __ ease (ILL AT); 57D: Chair designer Charles (EAMES); 62D: Matterhorn, e.g. (ALP); 63D: Shell out (PAY).