THEME: -ANCE ... it's added to the end of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, etc.
I hate to be Scrooge, but this one was mostly terrible. Some of the theme answers are cute, but ERB (!?! 26A: Tarzan creator's monogram) over SETA crossing ACTSO crossing CAPTIOUS (!? 36A: Faultfinding) near the absurdly plural INERTIAS (31A: Torpors)? I'm supposed to believe SONANCE is a real word one might use, ever? UDO (44A: Edible ginseng plant)? This whole "theme is the only thing that matters, screw the rest of the fill" attitude is really soul-crushing.
I gotta get back to the holiday festivities, so I'll make this quick.
- 16A: Communist revenue management? (RED FINANCE) — from RED FIN, which is ... some kind of fish, I guess.
- 21A: Atonement from a soda jerk? (FOUNTAIN PENANCE) — cute. Thumbs up.
- 32A: Love that blossomed in a music store? (CD ROMANCE) — cute. Thumbs up.
- 48A: Voice of choice? (FAVORITE SONANCE) — an abomination.
- 55A: Square up with actor Jack? (PAY PALANCE) — great. Big thumbs up.
Crosswordese 101: AÑO (13A: Mayo is in it) — Spanish for "year." I try like hell to keep this out of any puzzle I might be constructing — if I had to include it, I'd clue it as "AN O"; while it's totally acceptable to cross a letter w/ diacritical mark (e.g. N with tilde) with letter lacking it (e.g. no tilde), I still think you avoid it if possible. Sadly, today, it happens twice (again at PEÑA — 22D: Clinton cabinet member Federico). AÑO w/o tilde means ... well, not "year."
Merry Christmas to all. See you Monday.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
PS Please enjoy this free Christmas puzzle. Not much to do with Christmas — and some of the content is a little racy — but I hope you find it doable and amusing nonetheless. It's a puzzle inspired by one of my readers, one who misunderstood a recent Sunday puzzle entitled "Inside Dope." In honor of his misunderstanding, I made this: "Inside Dope, Part 2." xoxorp.
[as always, click on "Print" below, or go here (to the forum at crosswordfiend.com) to get a .puz / AcrossLite version of the puzzle]
Everything Else — 1A: Hoodwink (CON); 4A: Exhausted, with "out" (WIPED); 9A: Exaggerated fanfare (HYPE); 13A: Mayo is in it (AÑO); 14A: Italian deli offering (PANINI); 15A: Skyrocket (SOAR); 16A: Communist revenue management? (RED FINANCE); 18A: Toro, in sushi bars (TUNA); 19A: Become (AMOUNT TO); 20A: Small batteries (AAS); 21A: Atonement from a soda jerk? (FOUNTAIN PENANCE); 26A: Tarzan creator's monogram (ERB); 27A: Tribute of sorts (ODE); 28A: Mike famously bit him in a 1997 fight (EVANDER); 29A: __ date (SET A); 31A: Torpors (INERTIAS); 32A: Love that blossomed in a music store? (CD ROMANCE); 36A: Faultfinding (CAPTIOUS); 39A: Old Dodge (DART); 43A: Prayers (ORISONS); 44A: Edible ginseng plant (UDO); 47A: Comic strip cry (WAH); 48A: Voice of choice? (FAVORITE SONANCE); 51A: Waitress at Mel's (FLO); 52A: More isolated (LONELIER); 53A: Town-line sign abbr. (ESTD.); 55A: Square up with actor Jack? (PAY PALANCE); 57A: Bum (REAR); 58A: Starts (ONSETS); 59A: __ station (GAS); 60A: Dash for a recipe, maybe (SALT); 61A: Restaurant row? (SCENE); 62A: Mexican Mrs. (SRA.); 1D: Some wine containers (CARAFES); 2D: Another (ONE MORE); 3D: Surely (NO DOUBT); 4D: Classified (WANT AD); 5D: Rare way for football games to end (IN A TIE); 6D: Attribute to, as blame (PIN ON); 7D: Ref. work (ENC.); 8D: Go kaput (DIE); 9D: FDR's successor (HST); 10D: 1982 Eddie Rabbitt/Crystal Gale duet (YOU AND I); 11D: Elixir (PANACEA); 12D: They can fix slips (ERASERS); 14D: Old Ford (PINTO); 17D: Frolic (FUN); 22D: Clinton cabinet member Federico (PEÑA); 23D: Neck and neck (EVEN); 24D: Buster? (NARC); 25D: Fed the kitty (ANTED); 30D: "Don't __ innocent" (ACT SO); 31D: AOL exchanges (IMS); 33D: New Look designer (DIOR); 34D: Food-box word with a cable car in its "o" (RONI); 35D: Depose (OUST); 36D: Strongboxes (COFFERS); 37D: Asian border lake (ARAL SEA); 38D: Like a deciding moment (PIVOTAL); 40D: Shade providers (AWNINGS); 41D: Wheels on a track (RACECAR); 42D: Russell of "Black Widow" (THERESA); 44D: Ben Hogan won it four times (US OPEN); 45D: Contribute (DONATE); 46D: First-year law students (ONE-LS); 49D: "Family Ties" mom (ELYSE); 50D: King preceder (ALA); 54D: 2000 Gere title role (DR. T); 55D: Bldgs. with boxes (POS); 56D: Mandela's org. (ANC).