THEME: "Eat Me"—Food dishes that include names are clued as if they have something to do with famous people with that first name.
To accommodate the 12-letter central answer, the grid's been stretched to 16 squares wide. You can't center an entry with an even number of spaces within a grid with an odd width.
- 18a. [Response to comic Anderson's "What's for dinner?"?] is CRAB LOUIE or rather, "crab, Louie." I was thinking this classic comedy bit was Louie Anderson, but it's the similarly girthed John Pinette:
- 21a. [Response to Spanish tenor Kraus's "What's for dinner?"?] is CHICKEN ALFREDO. Fettuccine Alfredo is more familiar to me than this chicken dish, which in turn is more familiar to me than Spanish tenor Alfredo Kraus, whom I've never heard of. YouTube reveals the winning combination of opera chops and a silly mustache.
- 37a. [Response to Revolutionary Arnold's "What's for breakfast?"?] is EGGS BENEDICT. Not sure why the R is capitalized. And what's with rehabilitating his image? He's most famous for being a traitor.
- 58a. [Response to actress Bracco's "What's for brunch?"?] is QUICHE LORRAINE. She played Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos.
- 64a. [Response to jazzman Peterson's "What's for dinner?"?] is VEAL OSCAR. Oscar Peterson plays piano, and quite nicely, I might add:
This grid is notable for the stacking of the theme entries at the top and bottom as well as the 28 longish (6 to 8 letters long) non-theme answers. The short fill includes a number of clunkers, though.
Join me in a stroll through the grid to see what's here:
- 5a. [Penn. crosser] is a TNPK., as in the Pennsylvania Turnpike that runs across the state.
- 17a. [Singer Morissette]'s first name is ALANIS. I love her downbeat acoustic cover of Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps." If you hate that song, you may love this version.
- There's a one-black-eye-day combo happening here with ONE EYE (12d. [Cyclops feature]), BLACK EYE (3d. [Mark of shame]), and ONE DAY (67a. ["Eventually ..."]).
- 69a. [Maestro Klemperer] is OTTO. Not Werner. Hogan's Heroes actor Werner Klemperer is Otto's son. Who knew?
- 4d. Good clue for JOB-HOP: [Change positions often]. I was thinking of jostle and fidget.
- 19d. [__ fire under] clues the two-word partial entry LIT A.
- 30d. [Dull finish?] doesn't rescue -ARD. Nobody likes a dangling suffix answer. At least -ard is in the dictionary as a suffix with a specific meaning. Did you know that it's mostly used negatively? Nobody wants to be dullard, drunkard, or dotard. Wizard, though, is a positive word. -ARD is in a pile-up of ick, with partial ME I and Roman numeral MDC (which at least had a workable math clue, 32d: [CLX x X]. 100 times 10 = 1000/M, 50 times 10 = 500/D, 10 x 10 = 100/C.
- 36d. TNS is used to abbreviate "tons" ([Heavy wts.]), but how pointless is that? An abbreviation that drops only one letter? I just saw TNS in another puzzle recently and thought it stunk. I'm surprised to see it again so soon, because it feels like an answer I have rarely encountered in crosswords.
- 41d. I love the word TRIFECTA. It's a [Potentially lucrative track bet].
- 48d. [Menacing snake] clues COILER. Meh. Nobody describes a coiled snake as a COILER.
Everything Else — 1A: Hist. or sci. (SUBJ.); 9A: "This is for real!" ("NO JOKE!"); 16A: Noah of "ER" (WYLE); 20A: Forceful, as an argument (COGENT); 23A: 1861-'89 territory (DAKOTA); 25A: MFA, for one (DEG.); 26A: Oater okay (YEP); 27A: Get ready (PREPARE); 29A: Bighorn sheep, at times (RAMMERS); 33A: What's up? (SKY); 34A: Like machine-stamped mail (METERED); 42A: Most proximate (NEAREST); 43A: Cold and wet (RAW); 46A: Flute relative (PICCOLO); 49A: Leather source (OSTRICH); 53A: Tokyo, once (EDO); 54A: Sitter's handful (IMP); 57A: Sly (CRAFTY); 63A: Dump (UNLOAD); 68A: Nastase of tennis (ILIE); 70A: They're sometimes worn under helmets (DO-RAGS); 71A: Building extensions (ELLS); 72A: 1966 Jerry Herman musical (MAME); 1D: Beehive St. capital (SLC); 2D: Old Mideast org. (UAR); 5D: Like many garages (TWO-CAR); 6D: Stooges' laugh (NYUK); 7D: Practiced, as a trade (PLIED); 8D: New Hampshire college town (KEENE); 9D: Table salt, to a chemist (NACL); 10D: Swedish statesman __ Palme (OLOF); 11D: Five-time NHL scoring leader Jaromir (JAGR); 13D: More considerate (KINDER); 14D: Prevents, legally (ESTOPS); 22D: Accept (AGREE TO); 23D: Infielders' stats (DPS); 24D: Indy's pursuit (ARK); 28D: Involve, as in conflict (EMBROIL); 31D: "Something tells __ goofed" (ME I); 35D: Wide shoe spec (EEE); 38D: Health food co. (GNC); 39D: Former GM division (GEO); 40D: Actor Mineo (SAL); 44D: Do something (ACT); 45D: "Give me a reason" ("WHY?"); 46D: Ahab's whaler (PEQUOD); 47D: "Don't ask me!" ("I DUNNO!"); 50D: Libra symbol (SCALES); 51D: Small band (TRIO); 52D: Kidnapper's demand (RANSOM); 55D: Dinner companion? (MOVIE); 56D: Head & Shoulders competitor (PRELL); 59D: Musical finale (CODA); 60D: Den __, Netherlands (HAAG); 61D: Nestlé ice cream brand (EDY'S); 62D: Track fence (RAIL); 65D: PIN requester (ATM); 66D: Fish delicacy (ROE).