THEME: add "W" to beginnings of familiar phrases, get wacky phrases, etc.
This is pretty low-end stuff. A cynical, pointless add-a-letter puzzle. It's Friday, so why not ... "W?" What's the rationale? Why "W?" You could do this puzzle again, with the same base phrases, with at least three different other letters (please, please don't). Personally, I like "F," if only for the answer you'd get at 48A, but "M" might make more sense. Whatever. The point is there's just zero ambition behind this. Crank it out. Here you go. On to the next. If this kind of forgettable cookie-cutter stuff gets published routinely, why *not* just crank it out?
- 17A: Stonemason's goal? (WALL IN A DAY'S WORK)
- 27A: Flirt's mascara stains? (WINK BLOTS)
- 48A: Dermatology class videos? (WART FILMS)
- 62A: Inherited wealth? (WILL-GOTTEN GAINS)
Are they cute, charming, clever answers? Some, I guess. Maybe. But, in the words of this puzzle, HO HUM (31D: Boring).
It's hard not to like KRAKATOA (39D: Volcano in the Sunda Strait), and FABIO added a ray of sunshine to the experience as well (36D: One-named male model). I'm pretty sure kids can actually say the simple word "dog." The clue on BOW WOW suggests something a cutesy, baby-talking parent would say more than it does what an actual TYKE would say (10D: Certain pet, in totspeak). The overall fill, in general, is inoffensive. That's the best thing I can say about the puzzle today.
Crosswordese 101: ERSE (65A: Celtic language) — HA ha, how is this *not* on our list after more than a year's time??? Maybe that's a sign that it hasn't been used much, which is a very promising trend. ERSE is the worst kind of old school crosswordese (a valid answer, but one you don't want to trot out unless you are under duress). It's essentially another word for "Gaelic." With its obscenely common letters in unusual combination, it's a very handy piece of 4-letter fill. Too handy. Constructors should shun it. Except when they can't.
- 34A: "It's what's hot in pain relief" brand (BEN-GAY) — second GAY answer of my puzzle day (this one didn't make me laugh as much)
- 4D: Kelso and Funny Cide (GELDINGS) — this answer looks pretty good in the grid, and I like the clue, in that (at least for me) the answer wasn't immediately obvious. Needed crosses. Nice to have to do some work on a Friday.
- 15A: Bobby's informant (NARK) — NARK Matthews provided Bobby Kennedy with all kinds of important information when Bobby was Attorney General ...
- 52A: Chiwere speaker (OTOE) — I've got OTOE on speed dial. Four letters, even vaguely Native American-looking clue: OTOE. Now it could be CREE or HOPI, or even OTOS, dagnabbit, but OTOE (3/4 vowels) is a good bet. Use crosses if you're not confident.
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Everything Else — 1A: Lively Cuban dance (CONGA); 6A: They can be loose or tight (ENDS); 10A: Shade of red (BEET); 14A: Sharon of Israel (ARIEL); 15A: Bobby's informant (NARK); 16A: Moisturizer brand (OLAY); 17A: Stonemason's goal? (WALL IN A DAY'S WORK); 20A: Word before or after dog (SLED); 21A: Islamic spiritual guide (IMAM); 22A: Contemptible people (SWINE); 23A: "Woe __!" (IS ME); 25A: Biography opener? (AUTO); 27A: Flirt's mascara stains? (WINK BLOTS); 30A: Fanciful idea (WHIM); 34A: "It's what's hot in pain relief" brand (BEN-GAY); 35A: Feudal estate (FIEF); 37A: Caesar's morning meal? (OVA); 38A: "Man is __ himself when he talks in his own person": Wilde (LEAST); 39A: Chain with pieces, briefly (KFC); 40A: Rose petal pest (APHID); 42A: PC program (APP); 43A: French 101 infinitive (ETRE); 45A: Bustle (with) (ABOUND); 46A: High-tech unit (BYTE); 48A: Dermatology class videos? (WART FILMS); 50A: With wild abandon (AMOK); 52A: Chiwere speaker (OTOE); 53A: End of a series (OMEGA); 56A: Regarding (AS TO); 58A: Curdle (CLOT); 62A: Inherited wealth? (WILL GOTTEN GAINS); 65A: Celtic language (ERSE); 66A: Whitecap formation (FOAM); 67A: Befuddled (AT SEA); 68A: Feat (DEED); 69A: Minnesota __ (FATS); 70A: Antares or Betelgeuse (M-STAR); 1D: Crow cacophony (CAWS); 2D: Like much lore (ORAL); 3D: River from Lake Victoria (NILE); 4D: Kelso and Funny Cide (GELDINGS); 5D: Frazier foe (ALI); 6D: Glossy paint (ENAMEL); 7D: Zip, to Zapata (NADA); 8D: Like many a rescue (DRAMATIC); 9D: Something to look up to (SKY); 10D: Certain pet, in totspeak (BOW WOW); 11D: Childlike Wells race (ELOI); 12D: Deserve (EARN); 13D: Kid (TYKE); 18D: "Build it somewhere else" acronym (NIMBY); 19D: Flier with a bent nose (SST); 24D: Shark or Penguin footwear (SKATE); 26D: Take advantage of (USE); 27D: Obviously sad (WEEPY); 28D: Unsuitable (INAPT); 29D: Buyer's proposal (OFFER); 31D: Boring (HO-HUM); 32D: Political columnist Molly (IVINS); 33D: Anti-DUI org. (MADD); 34D: Betray a confidence, perhaps (BLAB); 36D: One-named male model (FABIO); 39D: Volcano in the Sunda Strait (KRAKATOA); 41D: Skunk relatives (POLECATS); 44D: Company quorum? (TWO); 45D: "Sweet" river in a Burns poem (AFTON); 47D: Made 3 on a par-5 (EAGLED); 49D: Clan emblems (TOTEMS); 51D: Mad, e.g., briefly (MAG); 53D: Due (OWED); 54D: Bog down (MIRE); 55D: Word suggesting options (ELSE); 57D: Doc's "Now!" ("STAT!"); 59D: Tilt (LIST); 60D: Pre-military rank? (ONE-A); 61D: Royal Russian of yore (TSAR); 63D: Amiss (OFF); 64D: Pinup's leg (GAM).