Theme: "Line Up" — Both parts of each theme answer can precede the words the line in a familiar phrase.
- 22A: *In the netherworld (DOWN BELOW).
- 34A: *Use bank "protection" (OVERDRAW).
- 53A: *Place where a driver may be required to stop (CROSSWALK).
- 3D: *Climber's support (TOEHOLD).
- 42D: Bettor's concern, which can follow each half of the answers to starred clues (THE LINE).
I got a little distracted by trying to figure out if all the resulting phrases were song titles. Aerosmith's "Draw the Line" and Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line" obviously came to mind right away. So I went to YouTube and ended up looking at Johnny Cash videos and here's the one I'm going to share with you. It's very weird and doesn't have anything to do with the puzzle, but I love it and, hey! I can post whatever I want.
I almost don't want to really talk about the rest of the puzzle. The theme is so good and then … not so much.
With both ECO- and ACRO- (13A: Green opening / 56A: Bat head?), RECOLOR and REHEEL (18A: Dye, usually / 20A: Do a cobbler's work), SMILER and MODELER and PAYER (55A: Cheshire Cat, notably / 15D: Builder of tiny cities / 25D: One treating) a s**t-load of three-letter entries (I count 16), and a slew of crosswordese — let's just say this is not my favorite puzzle of the year. If I were building it, I think I would have gutted it and started over. But did I mention that I really like the theme?!
- 14A: Pained expression (GRIMACE). Best word in the grid.
- 27A: Ginormous (COLOSSAL). This one's right up there too. Actually both ginormous and colossal are awesome.
- 33A: Lions, on a scoreboard (DET). That would be football.
- 40A: Coll. dorm overseers (RAS). In my first year of college, my R.A.'s name was Andy Hoover. There was also another guy in the same dorm who wasn't the R.A. but was also named Andy Hoover. They were referred to as Andy Hoover and The Other Andy Hoover, but it depended on who you were talking to which one was which. (Have I told that story before? It feels like I have.)
- 5D: Songwriter Jacques (BREL). I hear he's alive and well and living in Paris.
- 35D: More lit (DRUNKER). Ha!
- 36D: Lynx family members (BOBCATS). Tried ocelots at first. Are ocelots and lynxes related?
- 46D: Street boss? (MASON). I didn't get this until I was looking through the clues and answers one more time in preparation for blogging. Perry Mason is Della Street's boss. Veerrrry clever!
- 55D: Explorer Hernando de __ (SOTO). Every time de Soto shows up in a puzzle I go looking for the Seinfeld clip where they're sitting around the coffee shop comparing favorite explorers. I can never find the stupid clip! But here are the lines:
George Costanza: I like DeSoto.
Jerry: DeSoto? What did he do?
George Costanza: He discovered Mississippi.
Jerry: Yeah, like they wouldn't have found that anyway.
- 7A: Old jet set jet, briefly (SST).
- 16A: Trac II successor (ATRA).
- 32A: Eggs, to Agrippa (OVA).
- 41A: 1944 invasion city (ST.-LÔ).
- 34D: Australian exports (OPALS).