THEME: "Hardware Party"—Four answers begin with FASTENers used in non-hardware contexts
- 17A: [*Stable storage enclosure] (TACK ROOM). It wasn't until the crossings gave me this answer that I realized "stable" was the noun (a horse barn) and not an adjective.
- 61A: [*Benjamin Button portrayer] (BRAD PITT). That's an attractive human being there.
- 10D: [*Wacko] (SCREWBALL). Remember those ice-cream truck Screwballs, the paper cone of sherbet with a gumball in the bottom? Oh, how I loved those as a kid. As a mom? Turns out Screwballs taste nasty.
- 34D: [*Game that goes down to the wire] (NAIL-BITER). Now, that's a terrific entry clued that way. It's less appealing if clued as [Cuticle gnawer], no?
- 60A: [Attach, perhaps with hardware that begins the answers to starred clues] (FASTEN).
Like PuzzleGirl and Rex, I am tiiiired after the crossword tournament. It's total sensory overload: I stay up late, I get up early, and I spend most of my waking moments in group settings. If past years have taught me anything, it's that it'll take me a solid week to feel caught up on sleep. The exhaustion is definitely worth it, though—I had a blast.
What all is in this puzzle? This:
- 29A. [Letter-shaped hardware] (U-BOLT). What the hell? You're hardware. You can probably help FASTEN things. What are you doing loafing in this puzzle? Get to work and find a way to support the theme. (Vague theme idea: a group of famous people whose names are bracketed by hardware. USAIN BOLT! I might try to come up with more, but I'm really not a fan of that sort of theme so why perpetrate another one on the world?
- 33A. [Chinese currency] (YUAN). When I see people talking about prices of things in China, they use RMB, not yuan. Apparently the Chinese yuan and renminbi, or RMB, are basically the same thing.
- In case you always wondered how to spell a 43A. [Laugh from a Stooge], it's NYUK.
- 56A. [Mötley Crüe's two] (UMLAUTS). No, those words are not German. Did you try to squeeze NIKKI SIXX AND VINCE NEIL into seven squares? And can yøü actüally bear to wätch this whöle video?
- 6D. [Cobbler's concern] (SHOE). Do you have trouble with your peach cobbler? Does the crust take on the consistency of shoe leather?
- 39D. [Sudden-braking result] (SKID MARK). Heh. Anyone else snickering here?
- 59D. [Train sched. list] (STNS). STA. is a much more common abbreviation for "station" than STN., and then we're getting it pluralized here? Meh.
Today's clue is 50D: [Iraqi money]. The DINAR is also used in many other countries, including Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, and Bahrain. The hitch is that there's another 5-letter Middle Eastern currency, and it shares the same vowels: the RIYAL. The RIYAL has been clued as the money of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Yemen. Mind you, that one can also be spelled without the Y: RIAL. Which is not to be confused with the Cambodian unit of currency called the RIEL. Be aware that all four of these currency names may show up, and let the crossings distinguish between them if you're not in the mood to study lists of the countries that use each currency.
Everything Else — 1A: Mesmerized (RAPT); 5A: Medicinal amt. (TSP.); 8A: Fenway Park city (BOSTON); 14A: "East of Eden" director Kazan (ELIA); 15A: "__ Do You Love?": Bo Diddley classic (WHO); 16A: Concert bonus (ENCORE); 19A: They save the day (HEROES); 20A: Affliction (DISEASE); 21A: Be scared to (DARE NOT); 22A: Bank acct. entry (INT.); 23A: Symbol on several keys (ARROW); 24A: No __: menu notice (MSG); 27A: Company featuring cavemen in its ads (GEICO); 35A: Play thing (PROP); 36A: It's a wrap (SARAN); 37A: Mrs. Peel of "The Avengers" (EMMA); 38A: Arias, e.g. (SOLOS); 40A: Plastic surgeon's offering, for short (LIPO); 41A: "Ghostbusters" co-writer Harold (RAMIS); 44A: In unfamiliar territory, maybe (LOST); 45A: Dandruff site (SCALP); 46A: Commonly cluttered room (ATTIC); 48A: Maiden name lead-in (NÉE); 49A: Reward for merit (BADGE); 51A: Egg carton no. (DOZ.); 53A: Great Plains terrain (PRAIRIE); 62A: Fellini's realm (CINEMA); 63A: Site of the smallest bone in the body (EAR); 64A: Lowly worker (PEON); 65A: Sleep apnea sufferer, often (SNORER); 66A: The Hartford logo (ELK); 67A: Egyptian snakes (ASPS); 1D: Former gen.'s status (RETD.); 2D: Jai __ (ALAI); 3D: Cam's output (PICS); 4D: Sulu portrayer on "Star Trek" (TAKEI); 5D: Lively "Texas" dances (TWO-STEPS); 7D: Spitz-type dog, for short (POM); 8D: Joy of "The View" (BEHAR); 9D: Burdensome (ONEROUS); 11D: Ren or Stimpy, e.g. (TOON); 12D: Its creme may be eaten first (OREO); 13D: Hornet's home (NEST); 18D: Tolled (RANG); 21D: Fail to finish school (DROP OUT); 23D: Altar boy (ACOLYTE); 24D: Clinton press secretary Dee Dee (MYERS); 25D: "Poison" shrub (SUMAC); 26D: Beta follower (GAMMA); 28D: Early metalworking period (IRON AGE); 30D: Belted constellation (ORION); 31D: Forgetful moment (LAPSE); 32D: Conservative IRA asset (T-NOTE); 42D: "I don't want to hear the rest" ("SPARE ME"); 47D: More than chilly (COLD); 52D: Rock artist Frank (ZAPPA); 53D: Cpls.' underlings (PFCS); 54D: Picnic spoiler (RAIN); 55D: "It will come __ surprise" (AS NO); 56D: River through southern Russia (URAL); 57D: One-eighties (UIES); 58D: Corvette roof option (T-TOP); 61D: Blossom visitor (BEE).