THEME: No theme today—It's a themeless/freestyle puzzle
This week's Saturdaypalooza was a bit harder than usual, no? Brad Wilber also makes much harder puzzles for the New York Times, and there are those who call him their nemesis. So it's not supposed to be easy—you're supposed to have a little gnashing of teeth before everything comes together.
Brad WilbEr's puzzle reminds me of Friday's NYT crossword by Doug Peterson—roughly the same number (14 here, 16 there) of long entries (8+ letters), tons of sparkle in the featured phrases and words, and some Scrabbliness. The clues were easier overall, this being an L.A. Times puzzle.
By the way, that's Brad WilbEr, with an E, not a U. Lotta people spell it as Wilbur. Anyone have a good mnemonic for remembering that this guy's name has an E? "WE like his puzzles." Or "WE call him our nemesis." These could work for NYT constructor Byron WaldEn (not Waldon), too.
- 17A: ["Fully loaded" purchase] is a DELUXE MODEL from the car dealer's showroom. I've got my eye on the new four-door Porsche sedan, the Panamera. The turbo model will run you $132K, about 40 or 50 grand more than the base model. Oh, wait. It gets 15 mpg city. Better look into the Ford Fusion Hybrid instead.
- 25A: [Like "Marley & Me"] clues RATED PG. Neither SCHMALTZY nor SACCHARINE would fit.
- 27A: ["Heartland" autobiographer] is MORT SAHL. This political humorist's last name shows up far, far more in crossword grids, so it's nice to see the full name. The clue...the clue was no aid to solving. I ventured over to YouTube to find a good Sahl clip to embed here but...I watched two videos and was not remotely entertained. So instead, here's Patton Oswalt. Do not play the video if swear words trouble you because he does cuss a bit. Also? My friend's four-year-old boy is a dead ringer for Patton Oswalt. It's uncanny.
- 37A: [Footwear ill-suited for stealth] includes clunky, cloppy wooden CLOGS. Now, the rubber-soled Merrell clogs, those are great for sneaking around.
- 55A: [Castaway's dream come true] is a RESCUE PLANE. Rescue planes have been in the news of late.
- 2D: ONE B.C. (aka 1 BCE) is the [Last year of its kind]. Calendars are weird, aren't they? They look like neutral dating systems but they carry more weight than that.
- 6D: Mnemonics! One [Geography-class mnemonic] is HOMES, for the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. Chicago's Michigan Avenue crosses the other four Great Lakes street names, running SHEO from north to south. I need a mnemonic to help me remember that it goes Chicago, SHEO, Ohio, Grand, Illinois.
- 8D: [Drunk's chaser?] is not the beer chaser after a shot, it's the suffix -ARD in drunkard. This is not the suffix in 9D: DIEHARDS, clued as [Hardly fair-weather friends]. Clueing them as [Hardly fair-weather fans] would have suggested the answer more strongly...but would've been easier. And we don't want that, do we?
- Bing, bang, boom, three in a row. Isn't this a great corner stack? 10D: [Some limo sharers] are PROM DATES. 11D: [Anti-diversity type] is a XENOPHOBE. (My son is a homophonophile.) And who doesn't love a 12D: SNOWGLOBE, that [Popular paperweight]?
- 28D: [Consequences of one's convictions] are JAIL TERMS. I like the mislead. These are not your philosophical convictions but the ones wherein you get convicted of a crime. (Not you personally, I hope.)
- 30D: [Upscale Roman shopping street] is VIA VENETO. I don't know a thing about it, but V-V phrases are nice, aren't they? Dang, all I can think of is "va-va-voom" and a gynecological disturbance.
- And this is one of the zippiest answers. It's not brand-new, no—other constructors have used it. But I still like it. 38D: [Homemade cassette with assorted songs] is a MIX TAPE. I haven't had one since senior year of college. I think people still call 'em mix tapes even though technology has moved past cassettes. No, wait. Do they just call 'em "mixes"? Help me out here.
Crosswordese 101: There's an 31A: Aptly named novelist Charles whose last name is READE. Get it? Read? READE? Har har! I bet no more than 1% of our readers have actually read a READE book. Novel titles you may see in READE clues include The Cloister and the Hearth, Peg Woffington, and Hard Cash. The key is remembering that there is an author with the name READE and that he shows up in crosswords from time to time. You will not be quizzed on his works.
See you folks again on Wednesday.
Everything Else — 1A: Winner of five of six A.L. batting titles from 1983 to 1988 (BOGGS); 6A: Produce unit (HEAD); 10A: Mil. stores (PXS); 13A: Taking undeserved credit, perhaps (ON AN EGO TRIP); 16A: Psychotic TV pooch (REN); 17A: "Fully loaded" purchase (DELUXE MODEL); 18A: "Bed-in for Peace" figure (ONO); 19A: Regress (EBB); 20A: Next (THEN); 21A: Barn loft (HAYMOW); 23A: Fish preparation gadgets (SCALERS); 25A: Like "Marley & Me" (RATED PG); 26A: Place for wallowers (STY); 27A: "Heartland" autobiographer (MORT SAHL); 28A: Joes at a diner (JAVAS); 31A: Aptly named novelist Charles (READE); 32A: As well (TOO); 33A: Perched (ALIT); 34A: Casual pants, briefly (CORDS); 35A: Friday player (WEBB); 36A: "Give __ rest!" (IT A); 37A: Footwear ill-suited for stealth (CLOGS); 38A: Paris's __ d'Orsay (MUS*Eacute;E); 39A: Volcanic crater feature (LAVA LAKE); 41A: Grafton's "__ for Noose" (N IS); 42A: Seismograph stimuli (TREMORS); 43A: Waltz segment (BOXSTEP); 47A: 1844 Verdi premiere (ERNANI); 48A: Act as lookout for, e.g. (ABET); 49A: Serial ending? (-IZE); 50A: Emmy-nominated Charlotte (RAE); 51A: Utility offering (ENERGY AUDIT); 54A: Sch. where Buzz Aldrin got a doctorate (MIT); 55A: Castaway's dream come true (RESCUE PLANE); 56A: __-pitch (SLO); 57A: 16-Across, e.g. (TOON); 58A: Hand net user, perhaps (EELER); 1D: Augurs (BODES); 2D: Last year of its kind (ONE BC); 3D: Nero's successor (GALBA); 4D: Serengeti antelope (GNU); 5D: Some chamber works (SEXTETS); 6D: Geography-class mnemonic (HOMES); 7D: 007's alma mater (ETON); 8D: Drunk's chaser? (-ARD); 9D: Hardly fair-weather friends (DIEHARDS); 10D: Some limo sharers (PROM DATES); 11D: Anti-diversity type (XENOPHOBE); 12D: Popular paperweight (SNOWGLOBE); 14D: Frank __, architect of L.A.'s Walt Disney Concert Hall (GEHRY); 15D: Missouri tributary (PLATTE); 22D: Thumbs-up (YES); 24D: Aspiring atty.'s hurdle (LSAT); 25D: Courses (ROADS); 27D: Amalgamate (MERGE); 28D: Consequences of one's convictions (JAIL TERMS); 29D: Communion line setting (ALTAR RAIL); 30D: Upscale Roman shopping street (VIA VENETO); 31D: Corner pieces (ROOKS); 34D: Its trill opens "Rhapsody in Blue" (CLARINET); 35D: Doormat (WUSS); 37D: Plant geneticist, at times (CLONER); 38D: Homemade cassette with assorted songs (MIX TAPE); 40D: Docs' lobby: Abbr. (AMA); 41D: "__ hath seen such scarecrows": "Henry IV, Part I" (NO EYE); 43D: Red Ryder, for one (BB GUN); 44D: Word with bore or basin (TIDAL); 45D: Paperless read (E-ZINE); 46D: Fizzle (out) (PETER); 48D: Not pizzicato (ARCO); 52D: That, to Teresa (ESO); 53D: Diminutive suffix (-ULE).