I don't think this type of puzzle (vowel shift) works as well when the first consonants change / have no rhyme or reason. Weird to have two Bs two Ps, and an F. But all that jigginess gives the puzzle a lively, shimmying quality, and the vowel progression from A to U gives the theme enough tightness to be passable. This was my second-slowest LAT Monday on record this year — still fast at 3:35, but almost a minute off my fastest time. Open corners can make for slightly slower-than-avg time, but my problems today were really all of my own making. Lots and lots of false starts and missteps.
- HOC for LIB (1D: Ad-___: improvise) — sometimes it pays to look at the clue closely
- RAINY DAY for FOGGY DAY — sometimes it pays to know the theme
- VEE (!?!?!) for ZIG (61D: Sharp turn) — don't ask, because I have no idea
- EAT AWAY for EAT INTO (51A: Erode gradually, as savings)
I also can never, ever get used to South Africa's being represented as RSA (63D: Pretoria's nation: Abbr.)— it's an abbr. I just don't like, as I never see it anywhere aside from crosswords (I'm not questioning its legitimacy, but come on, it's no USA, USSR, or even CSA). I also can never remember how Ms. Charisse spelled her name. I always waiver between SYD and CYD (50D: Charisse of "Singin' in the Rain"). SYD Hoff is an illustrator and cartoonist whose work I saw this past weekend at the MoCCA (Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art) in NYC. The comic on display had the the word NERTS! in it, swear to god.
- 17A: Loose-hanging trousers (BAGGY PANTS)
- 25A: 1957 hit for Buddy Holly and the Crickets ("PEGGY SUE")
- 36A: Coin collector? (PIGGY BANK)
- 53A: Gershwin song set in London, with "A" ("FOGGY DAY")
- 62A: Carriage outings (BUGGY RIDES)
Crosswordese 101: EROICA (48A: Beethoven symphony originally dedicated to Napoleon) — I started paying attention to classical music right around the time I started blogging about crosswords, so I learned to identify EROICA as both a word and a symphony at about the same time. Coincidentally, EROICA was one of the first pieces of classical music I heard live, as an adult. Just happened to be on the program of the Binghamton Philharmonic when I first looked into the possibility of seeing live classical music in these parts. Saw it on a program with some Mozart Serenade and R. Strauss's "Metamorphosen" (which contains elements of the funeral march in the second movement of "EROICA")
- 65A: Grammy co-winner for the rap song "Back on the Block" (ICE-T) – to see the world's weirdest, and briefest, Twitter flame war (involving ICE-T), go here.
- 39D: Crunchy cereal brand word (KRISPIES) — again, slowed down, even with the "K" in place; brain had to process what exactly "brand word" meant.
- 42D: Rah-rah encouragement ("GO GET 'EM") — probably my favorite answer in this grid.
Just noticed EROICA crossing EROTICA (41D: Art of a sexual nature). Do not like. Too much sameness.
See you Friday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: A dog may pull on one during a walk (LEASH); 6A: __ Hari (MATA); 10A: Engrave with acid (ETCH); 14A: Navel type (INNIE); 15A: Medical suffix (-OSIS); 16A: Rise sky-high (SOAR); 17A: Loose-hanging trousers (BAGGY PANTS); 19A: Soaks (up) (SOPS); 20A: Coiled hair style (BUN); 21A: Slanted type style: Abbr. (ITAL.); 22A: Buddies (PALS); 23A: Most sickly (ILLEST); 25A: 1957 hit for Buddy Holly and the Crickets (PEGGY SUE); 28A: Sharpshooter (DEADEYE); 30A: Painting props (EASELS); 31A: Tight as __ (A DRUM); 32A: Hired thug (GOON); 35A: 4:00 London social (TEA); 36A: Coin collector? (PIGGY BANK); 40A: Not prem., as gas (REG.); 43A: Chewy Hershey's candy (ROLO); 44A: "__ my case" (I REST); 48A: Beethoven symphony originally dedicated to Napoleon (EROICA); 51A: Erode gradually, as savings (EAT INTO); 53A: Gershwin song set in London, with "A" (FOGGY DAY); 56A: Coast Guard operation (RESCUE); 57A: Do bar duty (TEND); 58A: Wander (ROAM); 60A: Like two peas in a __ (POD); 61A: Cylindrical pasta (ZITI); 62A: Carriage outings (BUGGY RIDES); 65A: Grammy co-winner for the rap song "Back on the Block" (ICE-T); 66A: Theater award (OBIE); 67A: "__ evil ..." (SEE NO); 68A: Super Bowl, e.g. (GAME); 69A: Avoid flunking (PASS); 70A: Admin. aides (ASSTS.); 1D: Ad-__: improvise (LIB); 2D: Made possible (ENABLED); 3D: Lean and bony (ANGULAR); 4D: Enrolled (SIGNED UP); 5D: Attention-getter (HEY); 6D: Castle protector (MOAT); 7D: "Easy!" ("A SNAP!"); 8D: Lancelot's was "Sir" (TITLE); 9D: Barnyard brayer (ASS); 10D: Some exam answers (ESSAYS); 11D: Handyman's must-have (TOOL SET); 12D: Word after time or timed-release (CAPSULE); 13D: Time measures: Abbr. (HRS.); 18D: Feel sorry for (PITY); 22D: Links org. (PGA); 23D: Snake River st. (IDA); 24D: Big road rig (SEMI); 26D: Actress Rowlands (GENA); 27D: That, in Tijuana (ESA); 29D: "Leggo my ___!" (EGGO); 33D: Popeye's Olive (OYL); 34D: Woodwind quintet member (OBOE); 37D: Alum (GRAD); 38D: Evening, commercially (NITE); 39D: Crunchy cereal brand word (KRISPIES); 40D: Foul caller (REF); 41D: Art of a sexual nature (EROTICA); 42D: Rah-rah encouragement (GO GET 'EM); 45D: Scrambles to keep secret (ENCODES); 46D: Pupil (STUDENT); 47D: Corn site (TOE); 49D: Set ablaze (IGNITE); 50D: Charisse of "Singin' in the Rain" (CYD); 52D: Military force (ARMY); 54D: Vacation isle near Venezuela (ARUBA); 55D: Bear and Berra (YOGIS); 59D: Ripens, as cheese (AGES); 61D: Sharp turn (ZIG); 62D: Jazz style (BOP); 63D: Pretoriaís nation: Abbr. (RSA); 64D: "H-E-L-P!" (SOS).