THEME: "The Ayes Have It"—The ends of four answers rhyme with "ayes," using four different spellings for the long "I" sound
- 17A: [Fibs] (LITTLE WHITE LIES).
- 25A: [Seductive peepers] (BEDROOM EYES).
- 45A: [Like large cereal boxes] (ECONOMY SIZE).
- 57A: [1963 Elvis hit with the lyrics "You look like an angel...but I got wise"] ("DEVIL IN DISGUISE"). Never heard of it. You suppose it's on YouTube?
Yeah, that doesn't sound remotely familiar to me. Never was much of an Elvis fan. If you're around my age, though, the juxtaposition of WHITE LIES and BEDROOM EYES reminds you that talk is cheap when the story is good:
I could not find the groove in Ken Bessette's clues. The puzzle took me 4:11, which corresponds to a Thursday NYT level of difficulty and is not what I expect from a Wednesday LAT. Am I just off-kilter today, or is this puzzle harder than you expected it to be? I think it's the puzzle, because there was some oddball fill. There were also a number of clues that slowed me down, but these answers did not come easy:
- 32A: [A car with this is often easier to resell] clues ONE OWNER. Feels on the border between a solid crossword entry and an arbitrary combination of words. Maybe if it were clued as a car's status or provenance that can increase resale value rather than with the awkward "a car with this" phrasing?
- 50A: IN A PILE is clued as [Like some test papers awaiting grading]. (Ish. 34D: AMASS is clued with [Pile up], reusing the key word in 50A.)
- 5D: [Easily heard herd leader] is a BELL COW?!? What on earth is a BELL COW? I have never encountered this term before. I'm all about "more cowbell," sure, but definitely less bell cow.
- 38D: [No different from, with "the"] clues SAME AS. Wait. Is this really a 6-leter partial entry?
- 43D: BY NIGHT is clued as [When "They Drive," in a 1940 Raft/Bogart film]. Wait, hang on. A 7-letter partial clued by way of a movie I've never heard of from 70 years ago? Do not like.
Clues of note:
- 1A: [Hit bottom?] (SIDE B). I started with SPANK, considered past-tense HIDED, and waited for the crossings to rescue me—side B of a hit record.
- 24A: [Inauguration Day events] (GALAS). Raise your hand if you had OATHS.
- 36A: [Deadens] (DAMPS). Raise your hand if you had NUMBS.
- Language lesson time! 39A: [Spanish hand] (MANO); 44A: [His, to Henri] (SES); 2D: [Term paper abbr.] (IBID.); 4D: [Part of i.e.] (EST); 7D: [German "I"] (ICH); 28D: [___ culpa] (MEA); 54D: [Done, to Dumas] (FINI); 58D: [___ gratia: by the grace of God] (DEI). That's one Spanish, one German, two French, and four Latin words. But who's counting?
- 12D: [Suffix with four, six, seven and nine] (TEEN). Love this clue.
Crosswordese 101: MAA—I know what you're saying. 29A: [Barnyard sound], 3 letters...could go in a couple directions. Starts with an M? Must be that dang bell cow's MOO. Ends with AA? Must be the sheep's BAA. But every so often, the crossword throws you MAA. You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept that you'll run into it from time to time. The most common clues reach absolutely no consensus as to which barnyard animal says MAA. It could be a calf's cry, a goat's bleat, or a ram, lamb, or ewe's sound. If you're lucky, the constructor goes with the goat because then you won't be swayed by the MOO and BAA options.
Everything Else — 1A: Hit bottom? (SIDE B); 6A: Irritate (MIFF); 10A: Excessive elbow-benders (SOTS); 14A: Put down (ABASE); 15A: Sandy color (ECRU); 16A: World's largest furniture retailer (IKEA); 17A: Fibs (LITTLE WHITE LIES); 20A: Author LeShan (EDA); 21A: "Bad" cholesterol letters (LDL); 22A: Scrooge creator (DICKENS); 23A: The first film it aired was "Gone with the Wind" (TCM); 24A: Inauguration Day events (GALAS); 25A: Seductive peepers (BEDROOM EYES); 29A: Barnyard sound (MAA); 32A: A car with this is often easier to resell (ONE OWNER); 33A: What quibblers split (HAIRS); 35A: Asian on the Enterprise bridge (SULU); 36A: Deadens (DAMPS); 39A: Spanish hand (MANO); 40A: Seagoing mil. training group (NROTC); 42A: Montgomery native (ALABAMAN); 44A: His, to Henri (SES); 45A: Like large cereal boxes (ECONOMY-SIZE); 48A: Online suffix with Net (SCAPE); 49A: Some dashes (ENS); 50A: Like test papers awaiting grading (IN A PILE); 53A: __ chi ch'uan (TAI); 54A: Swell, slangily (FAB); 57A: 1963 Elvis hit with the lyrics "You look like an angel ... but I got wise" (DEVIL IN DISGUISE); 60A: Leave out (OMIT); 61A: Signaled backstage, perhaps (CUED); 62A: "The Da Vinci Code" star (HANKS); 63A: Shake, as a police tail (LOSE); 64A: TV's tiny Taylor (OPIE); 65A: Typical O. Henry ending (TWIST); 1D: Black Friday store event (SALE); 2D: Term paper abbr. (IBID.); 3D: Excel input (DATA); 4D: Part of i.e. (EST); 5D: Easily heard herd leader (BELLCOW); 6D: Feeble cry (MEWL); 7D: German "I" (ICH); 8D: "Dragnet" sergeant (FRIDAY); 9D: Useless (FUTILE); 10D: Jockey's wear (SILKS); 11D: Steinbeck migrant (OKIE); 12D: Suffix with four, six, seven and nine (TEEN); 13D: Say freshly (SASS); 18D: __ Dantés, the Count of Monte Cristo (EDMOND); 19D: PayPal "currency" (E-CASH); 23D: Brook fish (TROUT); 24D: On point (GERMANE); 25D: Cap'ns' subordinates (BOS'NS); 26D: Make used (to) (ENURE); 27D: Apollo's birthplace, in Greek myth (DELOS); 28D: __ culpa (MEA); 29D: Home of the Hurricanes (MIAMI); 30D: Cuban-born TV producer (ARNAZ); 31D: United (AS ONE); 34D: Pile up (AMASS); 37D: Mideast political gp. (PLO); 38D: No different from, with "the" (SAME AS); 41D: De Beers founder Rhodes (CECIL); 43D: When "They Drive," in a 1940 Raft/Bogart film (BY NIGHT); 46D: Cat of many colors (CALICO); 47D: Demand from a door pounder (OPEN UP); 48D: Vindictiveness (SPITE); 50D: Superstar (IDOL); 51D: Pixar clownfish (NEMO); 52D: Alamo competitor (AVIS); 53D: Ocean motion (TIDE); 54D: Done, to Dumas (FINI); 55D: Questions (ASKS); 56D: "__ in Show" (BEST); 58D: __ gratia: by the grace of God (DEI); 59D: Mich.-based labor group (UAW).