THEME: "Oh, Darling!" — theme answers begin with words that might be pet words for a loved one
Me = The Human Torch — I was in record territory on this one, time-wise. My fastest solve of 2010 so far, by a large margin (21 seconds faster than the LAT puzzle from 2 weeks ago). What's interesting about increasing your solving speed is that your experience feels like a highly condensed version of the solving you've always done. That is, in my case, I still had the experience of tripping and struggling and not knowing stuff right away, but all of it took place in super-fast-forward. For instance, I was wrong right off the bat, at 1A: Gremlins and Hornets, briefly (AMCS) — I had GMCS. Ran the Downs up there and knew Right away that the "G" was wrong, but the other Downs worked, so I made the correction ("G" to "A") and moved on. Still, precious seconds lost. Next, and biggest, problem was failing to get the back end of HONEY TREE right away. Figured it was TREE, but refused to put it in, as I'm pretty sure there's no species of tree called a HONEY TREE. Must just be called that in Milne because, well, that's where the HONEY is. Thought it might be HONEY POTS or some such. Also, LILT didn't come quickly over there in the east (28D: Light, happy tune). So that made for some awkward, clunky, and comparatively slow solving. Late in the game, I put in SERB for SLAV (58D: Many a Balkan native). Sometimes my crossword reflexes kick in before my rational brain has time to process data. No sweat. Fixed it when I got CLOWN (62A: Pantomime performer at the circus). Done and done in 2:38.
- 20A: "The Nutcracker" dancer (SUGAR PLUM FAIRY)
- 32A: Piano bar piano, often (BABY GRAND)
- 45A: Pooh's food source (HONEY TREE)
- 58A: Executive's golden parachute, e.g. (SWEETHEART DEAL) — had a small hesitation here, as I had the back end and thought the executive might be getting some kind of ART DEAL. Also, it took me a few seconds after completion to figure out the theme. Thought it was "sweet" words, but didn't know what to do with "BABY"...
Crosswordese 101: TARO (15A: South Seas edible root) — nutrient-rich plant whose root (actually, corm — a word I've never seen in xwords for some reason) is a staple of the South Pacific. Base ingredient in POI, for instance. TARO also has edible leaves, and (so wikipedia tells me) is thought to be one of the earliest cultivated plants. TARO belongs to the -ARO family of crossword words, which includes FARO (a card game) and KARO (a sweetening syrup made from corn).
See you Friday,
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Everything Else — 1A: Gremlins and Hornets, briefly (AMCS); 5A: Bay Area law enforcement org. (SFPD); 9A: When repeated, consoling expression (THERE); 14A: Cat's cry (MEOW); 15A: South Seas edible root (TARO); 16A: Female (WOMAN); 17A: Being, to Brigitte (ÊTRE); 18A: Sleep like __ (A LOG); 19A: Heroic tales (EPICS); 20A: "The Nutcracker" dancer (SUGARPLUM FAIRY); 23A: Well-thrown football pass (SPIRAL); 24A: Like the night (DARK); 25A: Omaha's state: Abbr. (NEB.); 27A: Canary color (YELLOW); 32A: Piano bar piano, often (BABY GRAND); 38A: Ross of "Lady Sings the Blues" (DIANA); 39A: Currency on the Continent (EURO); 40A: Lieu (STEAD); 42A: Bit of affection from Fido (LICK); 43A: In the least (AT ALL); 45A: Pooh's food source (HONEY TREE); 47A: Zoo swinger (MONKEY); 49A: Grand Canyon State sch. (ASU); 50A: Neuter, as a male horse (GELD); 53A: Blows, volcano-style (ERUPTS); 58A: Executive's golden parachute, e.g. (SWEETHEART DEAL); 62A: Pantomime performer at the circus (CLOWN); 63A: Border on (ABUT); 64A: Roy's cowgirl partner (DALE); 65A: Covered with asphalt (PAVED); 66A: "No problem" ("SURE"); 67A: Behold, in old Rome (ECCE); 68A: States unequivocally (AVERS); 69A: Bio lab gelatin (AGAR); 70A: Take ten (REST); 1D: "What __!": "Yuck!" (A MESS); 2D: Got together (with) (MET UP); 3D: Welsh dog (CORGI); 4D: Take a vow (SWEAR); 5D: Desktop tools (STAPLERS); 6D: Apple-picking season (FALL); 7D: __ as a peacock (PROUD); 8D: Religious doctrine (DOGMA); 9D: Fine-tuned (TWEAKED); 10D: Navajo neighbor (HOPI); 11D: Mideast chieftain (EMIR); 12D: Risqué (RACY); 13D: Naval Acad. grad (ENS.); 21D: "You __?": butler's question (RANG); 22D: Cook in oil (FRY); 26D: Shower alternative (BATH); 28D: Light, happy tune (LILT); 29D: Lion's den (LAIR); 30D: "Fool me __, shame on you ..." (ONCE); 31D: Waves behind a ship (WAKE); 32D: Smile from ear to ear (BEAM); 33D: Car (AUTO); 34D: Muffin stuff (BRAN); 35D: The sun in sunny side up (YOLK); 36D: Prefix with classical (NEO-); 37D: Comic Carvey (DANA); 41D: Military runaway (DESERTER); 44D: Popularly accepted tales (LEGENDS); 46D: Mongolian tent (YURT); 48D: "The best is __ to come" (YET); 51D: __ apso: dog (LHASA); 52D: Fix, as a computer program (DEBUG); 54D: Milk source (UDDER); 55D: Quiet companion? (PEACE); 56D: Locker room powders (TALCS); 57D: Icy winter weather (SLEET); 58D: Many a Balkan native (SLAV); 59D: Made on a loom (WOVE); 60D: Washstand pitcher (EWER); 61D: Pervasive emanation (AURA); 62D: Tax returns pro, for short (CPA).