THEME: HAT (73A: The last word of this puzzle's five longest answers is a type of one) — clue pretty much says it all — theme answers end in words that can describe types of hats.
A zingy little number. Simple theme concept, entertainingly executed. Loved most all of it, except KNURL (3D: Small knob) — there's a word only KNURL's mother could love. Ugh. Got hung up in only a couple of places, both involving names: I have no idea who portrayed Watson in the '30s and '40s (!?), so NIGEL was just a good, British-sounding guess (45A: ___ Bruce, '30s--40s Dr. Watson portrayer). I *did* know that Roy Rogers's birth name was SLYE, but somehow my brain didn't process the information correctly, or didn't recall it quickly, so I had to piece it all together from crosses (32D: Leonard ___: Roy Rogers's birth name). Still managed to come in a hair's breadth under 3 minutes. Started easily in the NW and then decided I would race across the grid to the SE, via crosses, as fast as I could. Didn't hesitate once — until I got to the clue for HAT, which was too long for me to read clearly in my software window, and which wouldn't have made much sense anyway since I had no theme answers at that point. From SE, I shot across to SW, then up the west coast. Rode the DRUGSTORE COWBOY across to the E and then went up and finished the puzzle off in the NE, with crosswordesey EMO being the last thing to go down. I see the makings of another theme built into this one — I just accidentally typed out MIDNIGHT COWBOY instead of DRUGSTORE COWBOY (perhaps bec. MIDNIGHT SUN is an answer in the grid). So ... you just need a RHINESTONE or a DALLAS and you're on your way to a COWBOY theme. Have at it!
- 18A: Gyroscopic toy (SPINNING TOP) — in America, we call them, simply, "TOPS." The "SPINNING" part is kind of implied.
- 24A: Central American fishing mecca (GULF OF PANAMA) — theme actually helped me get this quickly — rare that theme ever helps out on a Monday, as I'm usually moving too quickly to notice.
- 40A: Pretender in a ten-gallon hat and boots (DRUGSTORE COWBOY) — also a Matt Dillon film.
- 52A: Proverbial backbreaker for a camel (THE LAST STRAW) — these feel like two entirely different idioms to me: there's "THE LAST STRAW," and then there's "THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK." Never heard "THE LAST STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK."
- 63A: Arctic solar phenomenon (MIDNIGHT SUN)
Crosswordese 101: QANTAS (29A: "Flying kangaroo" airline) — certainly the puzzle's most common 6-letter "Q" word, and possibly the most common non-abbrev. "Q" answers wherein the "Q" is followed by a letter that is not a "U." See also the "Q" cross, IRAQ, which is probably the most common non-abbrev. "Q"-ending word. QANTAS thus becomes the first "Q" word in our Crosswordese 101 Pantheon. Now, only "V" and "W" are unrepresented.
- 7D: Tucker of country music (TANYA) — don't have much to say about the non-theme fill today, so ... when in doubt, cut to music.
- 6D: The Diamondbacks, on scoreboards (ARI) — Opening Day is just 8 days away. ARI has an excellent player in Justin UPTON, whom they signed to a huge contract during the off-season. He's got real MVP potential. His brother B.J. also plays in the Majors. Maybe some day you will see UPTON clued via one of them instead of via the more predictable [Author Sinclair].
- 43D: Numbers on 45s (OLD SONGS) — saw "45s" and thought "guns." Then thought "Bible verses."
See you Friday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Just a reminder — the Crosswords L.A. Tournament is coming up May 1, 2010 at Loyola-Marymount University. See link at the top of the sidebar for more info. I'll be there. If you're a west-coaster, you should be there too. Lots of low-key crossword fun.
Everything Else — 1A: Calligrapher's need (INK); 4A: Hilton alternative (HYATT); 9A: Fragrant wood (CEDAR); 14A: Lair (DEN); 15A: Surrounding glows (AURAE); 16A: Fuming (IRATE); 17A: Day "Grey's Anatomy" airs: Abbr. (THU.); 18A: Gyroscopic toy (SPINNING TOP); 20A: Archery projectile (ARROW); 22A: Time past (YORE); 23A: Comic Philips (EMO); 24A: Central American fishing mecca (GULF OF PANAMA); 28A: At liberty (FREE); 29A: "Flying kangaroo" airline (QANTAS); 33A: The Beatles' "__ the Walrus" (I AM); 36A: Skin layer (DERMA); 39A: British nobleman (EARL); 40A: Pretender in a ten-gallon hat and boots (DRUGSTORE COWBOY); 44A: Division word (INTO); 45A: __ Bruce, '30s-'40s Dr. Watson portrayer (NIGEL); 46A: Scand. nation (SWE.); 47A: Be lenient (GO EASY); 50A: Chinese leader? (INDO-); 52A: Proverbial backbreaker for a camel (THE LAST STRAW); 58A: IV squared (XVI); 61A: The same, on the Seine (EGAL); 62A: Bush successor (OBAMA); 63A: Arctic solar phenomenon (MIDNIGHT SUN); 67A: __ alai (JAI); 68A: Kindle download (EBOOK); 69A: Gizmo (THING); 70A: Ques. response (ANS.); 71A: Homes in trees (NESTS); 72A: Letters after thetas (IOTAS); 73A: The last word of this puzzle's five longest answers is a type of one (HAT); 1D: Dog collar attachment (ID TAG); 2D: India's first prime minister (NEHRU); 3D: Small knob (KNURL); 4D: Argues (HAS WORDS); 5D: "Fer sure!" ("YUP!"); 6D: The Diamondbacks, on scoreboards (ARI); 7D: Tucker of country music (TANYA); 8D: Part of a carpenter's joint (TENON); 9D: Movie theater (CINEMA); 10D: Fraction of a joule (ERG); 11D: Dinner and a movie, say (DATE); 12D: Tiny particle (ATOM); 13D: Seized auto, for short (REPO); 19D: Big oil exporter (IRAQ); 21D: Not quite right (OFF); 25D: There are three in every yard (FEET); 26D: Eva of Argentina (PERON); 27D: From square one (ANEW); 30D: Folder features (TABS); 31D: Get one's ducks in __ (A ROW); 32D: Leonard __: Roy Rogers's birth name (SLYE); 33D: "Got it, man!" ("I DIG!"); 34D: Pisa's river (ARNO); 35D: "Turn off the sound" button (MUTE); 37D: X-ray cousin, briefly (MRI); 38D: Auspices (AEGIS); 41D: Nanny __ (GOAT); 42D: Penny (CENT); 43D: Numbers on 45s (OLD SONGS); 48D: Arab chieftains (SHEIKS); 49D: Safecracker (YEGG); 51D: Gambling parlor letters (OTB); 53D: "Chicago Hope" actress Christine (LAHTI); 54D: Even if, informally (ALTHO); 55D: Indian prince (RAJAH); 56D: Kenmore competitor (AMANA); 57D: Spot for a belt (WAIST); 58D: Mutant superhero group (X-MEN); 59D: Hard-to-describe feeling (VIBE); 60D: Nuptial vows (I DOS); 64D: "Wayne's World" catchword (NOT); 65D: Get off one's 25-Down (SIT); 66D: Italian article (UNA).