THEME: "Ernie Gave Bert Dog Food"—Five theme entries begin with words from a common mnemonic device for remembering the musical notes associated with the G-GLEF, or treble clef
- 17A. "EVERY LITTLE STEP" is a 1989 Bobby Brown hit I've never heard of. There are better known "Every Little..." songs out there, but their titles are not 15 letters long.
- 23A. "GOOD GAME" is akin to "Well played!"
- 37A. BOY GEORGE! The early '80s MTV star was the Culture Club lead singer. In the decades since, he was hooked on drugs and got weird. Would love to post the official riverboat/period piece music video for "Karma Chameleon," but the record label won't allow video embedding. I bought that record album when I was in high school, so I'm fond of this song, too:
- 53A. Serves a sentence (DOES TIME).
- 59A. Metaphorical search tool (FINE-TOOTHED COMB).
- 69A. Wrapping everything up is G-CLEF or Staff figure, and a hint to the starts of 12-, 23-, 37-, 53- and 59-Across.
When the byline reads Brendan Emmett Quigley, you know you're in for some interesting fill (often some answers that have never appeared in a good newspaper crossword before) and probably some musical references you don't know. The four corners with stacked 7-letter answers that look like they belong in a themeless Saturday puzzle? Also a common BEQ feature. Speaking of Saturday puzzles, Brendan's fond of Saturday-style clues. Here are some answers and clues that jumped out at me.
- 1D. Some baseballers do it all game long (CHEW GUM). Can you walk while doing that? And what else can you do with gum? Italian artist Maurizio Savini makes sculptures out of it.
- 9D. Second Amendment-supporting group (THE NRA). I like it when the definite article joins a word that is usually accompanied by "the" when we talk about it. See also 46D: What preschoolers learn (THE ABC'S).
- Movie trailer? (CREDITS). The credits do trail along at the end of a movie. Nice mislead. The *RE*I** letters would also fit PREVIEW, but the question mark in the clue tells us not to take the clue literally.
- 26D. "Watermelon Man" musician Santamaria (MONGO). See? Music. More music I didn't know. Mongo Santamaria was an Afro-Cuban Latin jazz percussionist. His take on Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" was a hit in 1963.
- 40D. Big name in credit reports (EQUIFAX). Gotta love a brand name with a Q and an X in it.
- 44D. Classic shoe polish brand (SHINOLA). I can't help feeling that this is a dirty word.
- 45D. Stereotypical toy soldier (ARMY MAN). Check out artist Margaret Roleke's incredible ARMY MAN artworks (that's her work in the photo at right).
- 48D. Hit list (TOP TEN). Tricky clue for a Wednesday—"hit list" usually refers to a list of people targeted with assassination, but Billboard's TOP TEN is a list of hit songs.
Crosswordese 101: There are plenty of OTTOs in crosswordland, including four head honchos of the Holy Roman Empire. If the OT*O clue mentions Rome, though, it's OTHO. This 49D: Roman emperor in 69 A.D. is the one who overthrew Emperor Galba and took his spot. You won't need to know OTHO too often, but file his name away in your memory so you remember that this name exists.
Everything Else — 1A: Civil War org. (CSA); 4A: Multilevel marketing giant (AMWAY); 9A: Political pamphlet (TRACT); 14A: Witch (HAG); 15A: Thanksgiving decoration (MAIZE); 16A: "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speaker (HENRY); 17A: 1989 Bobby Brown hit (EVERY LITTLE STEP); 20A: Cunning trick (WILE); 21A: Charged particle (ION); 22A: Suffix with cyan- (IDE); 23A: "Well played!" ("GOOD GAME!"); 28A: Dinar spenders (IRAQIS); 30A: Caterer's container (URN); 31A: Victor's cry (I WON); 32A: Military action? (SALUTE); 33A: Stir-fry additive (MSG); 34A: Tirades (RANTS); 36A: Licensing prerequisite, often (TEST); 37A: Culture Club lead singer (BOY GEORGE); 40A: This, to Ricardo (ESTO); 43A: "What the Butler Saw" playwright (ORTON); 44A: Did nothing (SAT); 47A: Page size with four leaves (QUARTO); 50A: Words to a backstabber (ET TU); 51A: Brit. monarch's title (HRH); 52A: Disentangle (UNKNOT); 53A: Serves a sentence (DOES TIME); 55A: Soreness? (IRE); 56A: Certain candidate's goal, briefly (PHD); 58A: "Watermark" musician (ENYA); 59A: Metaphorical search tool (FINE-TOOTHED COMB); 65A: Unanimously (AS ONE); 66A: Icy look, maybe (GLARE); 67A: Fond du __, Wisconsin (LAC); 68A: Gas used in arc lamps (XENON); 69A: Staff figure, and a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 37-, 53- and 59-Across (G CLEF); 70A: Response to a ques. (ANS.); 1D: Some baseballers do it all game long (CHEW GUM); 2D: Redeemers (SAVIORS); 3D: Lasting quite a while (AGE-LONG); 4D: Singer Grant (AMY); 5D: Adjusted opening? (MAL-); 6D: Game system played with gestures (WII); 7D: AIDS-fighting drug (AZT); 8D: Bigfoot cousin (YETI); 9D: Second Amendment-supporting gp. (THE NRA); 10D: __ judicata: decided case (RES); 11D: Many an auction piece (ANTIQUE); 12D: Movie trailer? (CREDITS); 13D: Prepare for printing (TYPESET); 18D: Crimson, e.g. (RED); 19D: "Family Guy" mom (LOIS); 24D: Helicopter's predecessor, briefly (GIRO); 25D: "__ in a Manger" (AWAY); 26D: "Watermelon Man" musician SantamarÌa (MONGO); 27D: Went in (ENTERED); 29D: Der __: Adenauer epithet (ALTE); 35D: __ voce: softly (SOTTO); 37D: Delivered (BORN); 38D: Learning method (ROTE); 39D: Migratory antelopes (GNUS); 40D: Big name in credit reports (EQUIFAX); 41D: Dawn follower (SUNRISE); 42D: Hired (TAKEN ON); 44D: Classic shoe polish brand (SHINOLA); 45D: Stereotypical toy soldier (ARMY MAN); 46D: What preschoolers learn (THE ABCS); 48D: Hit list (TOP TEN); 49D: Roman emperor in 69 A.D. (OTHO); 54D: Private eye, briefly (TEC); 57D: Rapper Snoop __ (DOGG); 60D: "Discreet Music" composer Brian (ENO); 61D: Dr. Mom's forte (TLC); 62D: "2001" computer (HAL); 63D: Before, in verse (ERE); 64D: OED offering (DEF.).