THEME: "PUT A LID ON IT!" (59A: "Stop complaining!" (and what you might do to the start of 17-, 33- or 41-Across) — theme answers all start with words that are (in other contexts) items that might require lids
Did you know that, according to the cruciverb.com database, PUTALIDONIT has been used as a theme answer a whopping ten times in the past decade (at least twice as part of a hidden "I DO" theme, and at least twice again as part of an "All the theme answers have the same clue" theme, e.g. ["That's enough!"] cluing every theme answer)? And yet it has never been used in this way before, where the first words are all lidded items that appear in non-lidded contexts (though POT-BOILER undoubtedly derives from a pot on the stove). The matter of context is important, as an ideal "phrases that start with" puzzle features those words in contexts *other* than the one that unifies them, i.e. JAR JAR BINKS and POT BOILER have nothing in common *until* you link them via the theme-revealing answer. Anyway, overall, a pretty good experience, and far tougher (and more Scrabbly!) than today's NYT — a "V" and a "Z" short of a pangram.
- 17A: Comical character in "Star Wars" films (JAR JAR BINKS) — there is very, very little "comical" about him. If anything, he (he?) tends to drive people into rages, with his grating voice and ... unique ... syntax. Horror show.
- 33A: Novel by a hack (POT-BOILER) — really resent the cluing here. Would rather read a competent POT-BOILER (they take skill to write) than most of the so-called "literary" fiction of today, ugh.
- 41A: Ticket-selling place (BOX OFFICE)
Crosswordese 101: LEE J. COBB (26D: Actor Lee J. _____) — I know him exclusively from crosswords. Like TAMI HOAG, he can appear as either a first or a last name. Actually, for him, it's a first name + middle initial (yes, you will see LEEJ in puzzles, not infrequently). COBB is best known for creating the role of Willy Loman in the original production of "Death of a Salesman," and for playing baddie Johnny Friendly in "On the Waterfront."
- 30D: Rising trend in the market (UPSIDE) — not a term I know, so there was slowness in the middle here. To me, an UPSIDE is a positive attribute.
- 39A: Davis of "Dr. Dolittle" (OSSIE) — ???? he was in that? Oh, the remake! With Eddie Murphy. Gotcha. What a weird way to clue him.
- 6D: Elephant boy portrayer of film (SABU) — never can remember this guy's name, beyond the -BU. Today, I had NABU.
- 39D: "The Wizard _____" ("OF ID") — had "OF OZ," of course. Old, old trick.
- 42D: Cat's front foot (forepaw) — not sure why I like this, but I do.
See you Friday,
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Everything Else — 1A: Trumpet mufflers (MUTES); 6A: Like pretzels (SALTY); 11A: CD-__ (ROM); 14A: Observe Yom Kippur (ATONE); 15A: Degrade (ABASE); 16A: Latin lover's verb (AMO); 17A: Comical character in "Star Wars" films (JAR JAR BINKS); 19A: __ Bartlet, "The West Wing" president (JED); 20A: O.K. Corral event (SHOOTOUT); 21A: Old enough (OF AGE); 23A: French designer's monogram (YSL); 24A: Father of Isaac (ABRAHAM); 26A: Takers of pics (CAMS); 29A: Be superior to, as in the military (OUTRANK); 32A: Japanese sash (OBI); 33A: Novel by a hack (POTBOILER); 37A: Hit on the noggin (BONK); 39A: Davis of "Dr. Dolittle" (OSSIE); 40A: "Golden" principle (RULE); 41A: Ticket-selling place (BOX OFFICE); 43A: P. Hearst's kidnappers (SLA); 44A: "Is the gamble worth it?" ("DO I DARE?"); 46A: London guy (CHAP); 47A: "Fencers, prepare to duel!" ("EN GARDE!"); 50A: Sine __ non: essential (QUA); 52A: Seismic event (QUAKE); 53A: "Could be" ("I SUPPOSE"); 58A: Suffix with sub (-URB); 59A: "Stop complaining!" (and what you might do to the start of 17-, 33- or 41-Across) ("PUT A LID ON IT!"); 62A: Lead-in for metric (ISO-); 63A: Whisky __: Hollywood disco (A GO GO); 64A: Dad's brother, in Bordeaux (ONCLE); 65A: Pay-__-view (PER); 66A: Excited cry (WHOOP); 67A: Tries to find (SEEKS); 1D: They're above capts. (MAJS.); 2D: Great Salt Lake state (UTAH); 3D: Bull in a corrida (TORO); 4D: Gets a kick out of (ENJOYS); 5D: Does an usher's job (SEATS); 6D: Elephant boy portrayer of film (SABU); 7D: Not very much (A BIT); 8D: Data-sharing syst. (LAN); 9D: Displeased cluck (TSK); 10D: "Make up your mind!" ("YES OR NO!"); 11D: Indian bigwig (RAJAH); 12D: Last Greek letter (OMEGA); 13D: Digital data transmitter (MODEM); 18D: Hershey's caramel-and-chocolate brand (ROLO); 22D: Hindu wonder-worker (FAKIR); 24D: More hoity-toity, in a cultural sense (ARTIER); 25D: Ruth of the Yankees (BABE); 26D: Actor Lee J. __ (COBB); 27D: Peek-__ (A-BOO); 28D: Hussy (MINX); 30D: Rising trend in the market (UPSIDE); 31D: Puccini title heroine (TOSCA); 34D: Heavy drinker (LUSH); 35D: Fitzgerald of scat (ELLA); 36D: Harvest (REAP); 38D: Instamatic maker (KODAK); 39D: "The Wizard __" (OF ID); 42D: Cat's front foot (FOREPAW); 45D: Same: Pref. (EQUI-); 46D: Gangster Al (CAPONE); 47D: Furnish with gear (EQUIP); 48D: Emergency room VIP (NURSE); 49D: Eva or Zsa Zsa (GABOR); 51D: High hair styles (UPDOS); 53D: Othello's betrayer (IAGO); 54D: Sty food (SLOP); 55D: In days gone by (ONCE); 56D: Fancy hat fabric (SILK); 57D: Sorbonne summers (ÉTÉS); 60D: "That's icky!" ("UGH!"); 61D: Also (TOO).