You know how so many Dan Naddor puzzles have a bunch of 7-letter answers in the corners, just for the hell of it? This time, one of those 7s holds the key to the theme.
THEME: "Dee-fense! Dee-fense!"—Five phrases end with words that can precede "defense"
- 16A. [*Dictated reminder] is NOTE TO SELF. Self-defense.
- 19A. "THIS IS INSANITY!" is clued [*"We must be nuts!"]. The insanity defense sometimes involves Twinkies.
- 32A. [*Restricted airspace] is a NO-FLY ZONE. Zone defense is...what, a basketball thing? My husband adds "football, soccer, hockey, lacrosse...." He may be making up that last one.
- 50A. [*"We answer to a higher authority" brand] is HEBREW NATIONAL hot dogs. National defense, yadda yadda.
- 55A. [*Marquee name] is a MOVIE TITLE. A boxer or crossword champion embarks on a title defense against a challenger who would like to unseat her. Not crazy about MOVIE TITLE as a crossword-worthy entry.
- 36D. [Stadium chant, and word that can follow the ends of the answers to starred clues] is DEFENSE.
Gee, why so defensive?
Random rundown of clues:
20D: ASHANTI is clued as [People or region of Ghana]. Whoa! Hard geography clue. ASHANTI is also a singer:
43A: [Classic TV family] is not asking for a famous transvestite family. Not at all! The NELSONS were on TV. On The Simpsons, we see little of Nelson's family. They are the Muntzes. The Ozzie & Harriet clan were on old reruns when I was little—largely before my time.
Snort! Dan put PEE in the puzzle. Sure, it's masked as 60A: [The Carolinas' ___ Dee River]. My friend P.D. is always excited when "his" river is in a crossword.
3D. [Asphalt fault] repeats the "falt" sound twice. The answer is POTHOLE. Thanks to the economic stimulus money, a lot of Chicago's streets got complete or partial resurfacing last year, which was awesome. Last winter's potholes were INSANE. In the spring, I saw one pothole on Broadway that revealed history that had been buried since the '50s—cobblestones and streetcar tracks. That ain't right.
9D. [40% of fifty?] clues EFFS, as in the two letter Fs that make up 40% of the word "fifty." Eh.
26D. [Slip through the cracks} clues OOZE. I'm tempted to say that forgotten details have oozed.
I really like 37D: "I'LL BITE." That's what you say to convey the idea, ["It's a trick, but tell me"]. It took me way too long to remember what the second word was.
This is baloney. 41D: [IHOP order], SMALL OJ? I would never order OJ at IHOP. For me, restaurant OJ has got to be fresh-squeezed.
52D. [Don Knotts denial] is NOOP. Um, before my time? A little? I don't think he said that word as Mr. Furley on Three's Company. Who doesn't like a little Knotts?
Crosswordese 101: 1D: [Barley bristle] clues a solid old crosswordese word from botany: AWN. Pick one from column A: barley, grain, wheat, plant, grass. And one from column B: bristle, appendage, beard, covering. There you have it: A recipe for clueing the word AWN in a crossword.
See you Saturday, y'all. Stay warm.
Everything Else — 1A: Dadaism co-founder (ARP); 4A: "I'm serious!" ("NO JOKE!"); 10A: Egyptian viper (ASP); 13A: Chase, in a way (WOO); 14A: Supposing (EVEN IF); 15A: Zig or zag (VEER); 18A: Wrath, in a hymn title (IRAE); 21A: Word with car or bumper (POOL); 22A: Dover's st. (DEL.); 23A: Skedaddles (SCATS); 24A: Derby drinks (JULEPS); 26A: Moor on stage (OTHELLO); 28A: Beef source (STEER); 29A: Flowery welcome (ALOHA); 31A: VIP on the Hill (SEN.); 35A: First name in tyranny (IDI); 38A: Donnybrook (MELEE); 39A: __ talk (TRASH); 45A: Filmdom (CINEMA); 46A: Second of three black keys (A FLAT); 47A: Zippo (NIL); 49A: Sea depleted by irrigation projects (ARAL); 54A: Author Bagnold (ENID); 57A: Italian vineyard region (ASTI); 58A: "It __ matter" (DOESN'T); 59A: Years and years (EON); 60A: The Carolinas' __ Dee River (PEE); 61A: Skedaddles (SPLITS); 62A: CD players (DJS); 2D: Destroy completely (ROOT OUT); 4D: Clears (NETS); 5D: Eggs, e.g. (OVOIDS); 6D: Longtime North Carolina senator Helms (JESSE); 7D: NBC newsman Roger (O'NEIL); 8D: Potter's need (KILN); 10D: Shots from above (AERIALS); 11D: "Grey's Anatomy" setting (SEATTLE); 12D: Victimizes (PREYS ON); 15D: Country singer Gill (VINCE); 17D: Actress Brennan (EILEEN); 21D: Dr. Dentons, e.g. (PJS); 25D: Hype (PROMOTE); 27D: Howe'er (THO); 29D: Free-for-__: fights (ALLS); 30D: Caustic chemical (LYE); 33D: Squishy lowland (FEN); 34D: Verdi title bandit (ERNANI); 35D: Piled any which way (IN A HEAP); 40D: Effervescent, perhaps (AERATED); 42D: Dave's "2001" nemesis (HAL); 44D: New York restaurateur (SARDI); 45D: Customer (CLIENT); 47D: Subject of contemplation? (NAVEL); 48D: Formal "Who's there?" response (IT IS I); 51D: Scary arms, briefly (WMDS); 53D: Baseball's Mel and Ed (OTTS); 56D: Dash widths (ENS).