THEME: Chill out! — four theme answers begin with adjectives meaning "informal" or "laid back"
My first day back from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn. Here is my very brief recap (cut-and-pasted from my other blog):
Welcome back! Wait, you guys didn't go anywhere. I was the one who was away this weekend. The tournament in Brooklyn was a lot of fun, though I did not participate. That last sentence appears to make little sense, but is true nonetheless. I was on the periphery of the tournament all weekend, seeing friends and meeting new people and turning my voice recorder on at various, occasionally inappropriate times to try to capture the wisdom, eloquence, and occasionally drunken ramblings of various constructors, editors, and solvers. While the participants were solving, I went into Manhattan for soba noodles (Saturday), or slept late (Sunday). I also got to see really good friends and their brand new baby. There wasn't nearly enough time to see or talk to everyone I would have liked to. There is a new champion, as most of you know by now: Dan Feyer, a guy who trained for his first tournament by solving every crossword I ever wrote about and reading every write-up I ever wrote. One of the first things he told me two years ago was, "I'm probably the only person besides your mother who's read every word you've ever written." And now he's the champ. The other two finalists, Anne Erdmann and Howard Barkin, would have made excellent champions as well — I don't know Anne, but I do know that she was the only woman besides Ellen Ripstein to be on the stage for the finals in the past quarter century; I do know Howard, whom I met at my very first tournament three years ago and is possibly the nicest guy in the world of crosswords (populated almost exclusively by very nice people). Tyler Hinman was out of the running because of a tie-breaker rule (he finished tied for third). This was disappointing to me and a lot of people, as we would have loved to see him defend, but he was gracious in defeat and generous in his praise for Dan and got a *huge* standing ovation when he was announced as the fourth-place finisher (and, for the last time, champion of the Juniors division). It was actually pretty moving. Everyone was excited to have a new champ, but everyone still (rightly) stands in awe of Mr. Hinman's skills (and string of 5 championships in a row). Like the Terminator, he'll be back.
I heard some buzz about the upcoming Los Angeles Crossword Tournament ... will let you know as soon as I get official word about details from the (lovely and astonishingly professional) tournament organizer. Now, on to today's puzzle.
First words = synonymous. An old theme type. These answers are OK, with RELAXED HAIR providing some originality and flair, but with only four theme answers and with CASUAL and EASY not being significantly repurposed in their answers, I found this one lackluster overall. UNO CARD seemed a bit of stretch to me, in terms of its legitimacy as a self-standing answer (9D: It may direct you to skip, draw two, or reverse), but the rest of the fill was solid, if unremarkable. I actually used MEWL in a sentence the other day (describing my own behavior while in the midst of a bout with a stomach virus) (66A: Whimper). Nice word.
- 21A: Dangerously uncontrollable type (LOOSE CANNON)
- 27A: Weekly dress-down times (CASUAL FRIDAYS) — actually had some trouble here, as to me "dress down" = berate someone for incompetence. Perhaps this is also a feature of some CASUAL FRIDAYS. So much less dignified to take abuse from the boss when you're standing there in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops.
- 48A: Music genre heard in elevators (EASY LISTENING)
- 55A: Chemically treated tresses (RELAXED HAIR)
Crosswordese 101: ARLES (53D: Setting for van Gogh's "The Night Café") — if the word is in five letters and "Van Gogh" is in the clue, it's ARLES. Van Gogh moved there in the late 1880s, and found the landscape and light there hugely inspirational. About "The Night Café," van Gogh said: "I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad, or commit a crime" (wikipedia). That, my friends, is a quote, and a far cry from what (I imagine) is being "expressed" in the work of the Impressionists who preceded him.
Enjoy your day
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Everything Else — 1A: Surgery marks (SCARS); 6A: "Hawaii Five-O" setting (OAHU); 10A: Heist target (BANK); 14A: Sully (TAINT); 15A: Whirled, as a top (SPUN); 16A: Opposite of windward (ALEE); 17A: Impressive display (ARRAY); 18A: Kids' plastic brick maker (LEGO); 19A: "What's in a __?": Juliet (NAME); 20A: Sales agent, briefly (REP); 21A: Dangerously uncontrollable type (LOOSE CANNON); 24A: Taken by a shoplifter (STOLEN); 26A: Pub order (ALE); 27A: Weekly dress-down times (CASUAL FRIDAYS); 34A: Requests (ASKS); 36A: More than requests (PLEADS); 37A: Detroit-based labor gp. (UAW); 38A: Supportive sound from the crowd (CHEER); 40A: Sidekick (PAL); 41A: Best-seller list datum (TITLE); 43A: Sch. near Harvard (MIT); 44A: Ukrainian seaport (ODESSA); 47A: Dover flatfish (SOLE); 48A: Music genre heard in elevators (EASY LISTENING); 51A: Slithery swimmer (EEL); 52A: Letter-shaped shoe fastener (T-STRAP); 55A: Chemically treated tresses (RELAXED HAIR); 61A: Gallery display (ART); 62A: All done (OVER); 63A: Honey spirits (MEAD); 64A: Still-life fruit (APPLE); 66A: Whimper (MEWL); 67A: Puzzle with only one way out (MAZE); 68A: Old anesthetic (ETHER); 69A: Artist Warhol (ANDY); 70A: Greek god of war (ARES); 71A: Cowboy's rope (LASSO); 1D: Clear-night twinklers (STARS); 2D: Insertion symbol (CARET); 3D: Causes of in-flight "bumps" (AIR POCKETS); 4D: Protein synthesis molecule, for short (RNA); 5D: Salon dos (STYLES); 6D: Norway's capital (OSLO); 7D: Gibbons, e.g. (APES); 8D: Extremely big (HUGE); 9D: It may direct you to skip, draw two, or reverse (UNO CARD); 10D: Forbidden (BANNED); 11D: Astronaut Shepard (ALAN); 12D: Nautilus captain (NEMO); 13D: "Peachy-__!" (KEEN); 22D: "Movin' __": "The Jeffersons" theme (ON UP); 23D: Elite invitee roster (A-LIST); 25D: Cut with a surgical beam (LASE); 28D: European peaks, to Pierre (ALPES); 29D: "It's the __ I can do" (LEAST); 30D: Spurious (FALSE); 31D: Celebrity signatures (AUTOGRAPHS); 32D: Southern pronoun (Y'ALL); 33D: Popeye's __' Pea (SWEE); 34D: Very top (ACME); 35D: Denomination of Islam (SHIA); 39D: Wimbledon's official timekeeper (ROLEX); 42D: Stevie Wonder's "__ She Lovely" (ISN'T); 45D: Perplexing problem (DILEMMA); 46D: Against (ANTI); 49D: Annual (YEARLY); 50D: Six-Day War country (ISRAEL); 53D: Setting for van Gogh's "The Night Café" (ARLES); 54D: Wing: Prefix (PTERO-); 55D: Fontana di Trevi city (ROMA); 56D: Tied, as a game (EVEN); 57D: Lascivious (LEWD); 58D: Darling (DEAR); 59D: Mist (HAZE); 60D: Fruity summer drinks (ADES); 65D: Educ. support group (PTA).