THEME: "YOU'RE FIRED" (60A: Donald Trump catchphrase, and hint to the first two, three and four letters, respectively, respectively, of 17-, 26- and 46-Across) — relevant theme answers begin AX, CAN, BOOT, respectively
Not a fan of the "first letters"-type puzzle. First words, last words, OK. Letters ... well, it better be good, and this was just OK. With so few letters implicated in the theme, theme answers could have been billions (well, lots) of different (unrelated) things — would have been nice if a. they'd bee related or b. they'd been really snappy. Further, why are there 42 black squares in a puzzle with only four theme answers? Seems excessive. I give the puzzle credit for a handful of interesting answers, like MULLAHS (I had SULTANS !?) (9D: Islamic clerics) and OKINAWA (10D: 1945 Pacific battle site) and ST. JAMES (42D: Orange Place on a Monopoly board) (one of three orange places, actually). I also admire the attempt to zazz up the puzzle by cramming in Xs wherever they'd fit. But Donald Trump catchphrase already feels really dated (It's still on? People still watch?), and that guy's repulsive, so the best I can say about this puzzle is that it's fine. Acceptable.
- 17A: War on terror foe (AX is of Evil) — this needs some kind of caveat or qualification. AXIS OF EVIL was a stupid sci-fi-sounding catchphrase that was probably the most useless, counterproductive thing uttered by the last president. What, do we live in a @#$#ing comic book? Come on. Also, the so-called War On Terror simply doesn't include North Korea.
- 26A: Elton John tribute rededicated to Princess Diana ("CANdle in the Wind")
- 46A: "Alice Adams" novelist (BOOTh Tarkington) — kind of obscure for a Monday, but easy enough to piece together (assuming you've heard of the guy).
Crosswordese 101: "I, TINA" (29D: Turner autobiography) — a gift from the crossword gods to all constructors of the earth. Or maybe it came from Santa: "Just what I always wanted: a 'T' to put into I-INA ... and 'I' to put into IT-NA ... etc." Such useful letters, and yet the only letter that's replaceable is the "T" and even that has only one possible substitute: an "R". You will see "I, TINA" now and for many years to come (and the book is already 23 years old!)
- 6A: Rock genre involving flamboyant garb (glam) — I feel like I'm seeing this word more and more in puzzles. And I like it.
- 16A: Green Hornet's sidekick (Kato) — Seth Rogen is ... The Green Hornet. Opening one year from tomorrow. I'm not kidding!
- 39A: "___ Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts": old song ("I've") — possibly the stupidest possible clue for "I'VE." The song is just "old?" Huh. O man, I tried to listen to this, but wanted to stick a fork in ears after about 30 seconds. Enjoy.
- 55D: Yorick's skull, e.g. (prop) — minor hold-up: kept misreading this as [Yorick's skill, e.g.] — uh ... dying?
See you ... well, I'm not sure I'll see you Friday. I might have to have someone cover for me, as I'll be traveling, or will have been. We'll see.
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