THEME: "Golf!"—Four lively phrases begin with golf terms.
Can I tell you how much I enjoyed this puzzle? It's a winner on all counts. The Masters golf tournament is this week, and it's been much in the news since Tiger Woods is playing—so it's a timely crossword. The theme entries don't seem related at first, but they're all great. And the clues sparkle. This is everything an easy-to-medium crossword should be.
- 16A: Extremely defensive state of mind (BUNKER MENTALITY). Great phrase. A bunker in golf is a deep sand trap.
- 30A: Physical play (ROUGHHOUSE). You don't see a ton of double-H answers. The rough is the deeper grass off to the sides of the fairway.
- 39A: Abstinent one (TEETOTALER). The tee is that little doodad you put the ball on, the better to thwack it.
- 54A: Sam-I-Am's story (GREEN EGGS AND HAM). Dr. Seuss! The green is the area near the hole with super-short grass around it. I can't embed the video clip, but have you seen Jesse Jackson reading this story on Saturday Night Live? Check it out.
- 60A: This puzzle's theme—according to Twain, it's "a good walk spoiled" (GOLF). Nice use of a humorous quote to enhance the theme-revealing answer.
- 14A: "La __ è mobile": "Rigoletto" aria (DONNA). Way to sneak your name in there, Donna! See also 33D: La Scala production (OPERA). Here are a couple non-opera Donnas for you:
- 21A: Spats spots (ANKLES). Good alliteration; took me a while to make sense of the clue.
- 34A: Joint problem (GOUT). Please tell me I will never be afflicted with this again. I'm too young, dammit!
- 35A: Pig Latin refusal (IXNAY). Speaking of Latin, the language of ancient Rome, there's also 5D: Like I, in some cases (ROMAN)—I doubles as the Roman numeral for 1.
- 36A: Precipitous start? (PEE). As in the letter P's spelled-out name, not pee-pee.
- 43A: Channel where Susan Lucci hawks her jewelry line (HSN). Terrific, zippy clue for a usually-boring answer.
- 14D: Diminutive celeb sexologist (DR. RUTH). The clue made me smile. You think Dr. Ruth has ever been described in exactly those words before?
- So much negativity: Those who are opposed are 18D: Not behind (ANTI) and 52D: Not fer (AGIN'), the latter meaning "against" in hick-speak.
Everything Else — 1A: Date with an MD (APPT.); 5A: Horse of a certain color (ROAN); 9A: One of the March girls (BETH); 13A: Runny fromage (BRIE); 14A: "La __ è mobile": "Rigoletto" aria (DONNA); 15A: Declare openly (AVOW); 16A: Extremely defensive state of mind (BUNKER MENTALITY); 19A: Pablo Neruda work (ODE); 20A: Landlocked Asian sea (ARAL); 21A: Spats spots (ANKLES); 22A: Trial in simulated conditions (TEST RUN); 24A: Short orders in a luncheonette? (BLTS); 25A: Giant Mel (OTT); 26A: Retired Cunard liner, briefly (QE II); 27A: '60s protest gp. (SDS); 30A: Physical play (ROUGHHOUSE); 34A: Joint problem (GOUT); 35A: Pig Latin refusal (IXNAY); 36A: Precipitous start? (PEE); 37A: Limoges product (CHINA); 38A: Gardener's areas (BEDS); 39A: Abstinent one (TEETOTALER); 41A: Caps or Cat preceder (SNO-); 42A: Seedless bit of flora (FERN); 43A: Channel where Susan Lucci hawks her jewelry line (HSN); 44A: Funny Fey (TINA); 45A: Ghoulish (MACABRE); 49A: __ rod: powerful Old Testament tool (AARON'S); 52A: Luminous glow (AURA); 53A: Objective (AIM); 54A: Sam-I-Am's story (GREEN EGGS AND HAM); 57A: Margarine (OLEO); 58A: Condos, e.g. (UNITS); 59A: Like Cheerios (OATY); 60A: This puzzle's theme—according to Twain, it's "a good walk spoiled" (GOLF); 61A: Insignificant (PUNY); 62A: Prejudice (BIAS); 1D: Monk's superior (ABBOT); 2D: Bluenose (PRUDE); 3D: Sappy trees (PINES); 4D: Drug in Shatner novels (TEK); 5D: Like I, in some cases (ROMAN); 6D: Turow work about first-year law students (ONE-L); 7D: Political commentator Coulter (ANN); 8D: Hollywood's Wood (NATALIE); 9D: Goofs on the mound (BALKS); 10D: Activity from below? (EVIL); 11D: Schlep (TOTE); 12D: Major rtes. (HWYS.); 14D: Diminutive celeb sexologist (DR. RUTH); 17D: Like garden smells (EARTHY); 18D: Not behind (ANTI); 23D: Frat party garb (TOGAS); 24D: Assailed (BESET); 26D: Part of 26-Across (QUEEN); 27D: Dirty (SOIL); 28D: Beach sight (DUNE); 29D: Headline (in) (STAR); 30D: Teases (RIBS); 31D: Beasts of burden (OXEN); 32D: Word processor command (UNDO); 33D: La Scala production (OPERA); 34D: Togo neighbor (GHANA); 37D: Medical imaging proc. (CT SCAN); 39D: Stiffen (TENSE UP); 40D: They held Tara's title (O'HARAS); 42D: Helsinki native (FINN); 44D: "... newt and __ frog": "Macbeth" (TOE OF); 45D: Like some basements (MUSTY); 46D: Religion founded in 19th-century Persia (BAHAI); 47D: Cowboy's rope (RIATA); 48D: Small-screen awards (EMMYS); 49D: Wide-eyed (AGOG); 50D: Woody's offspring (ARLO); 51D: Fishing gear (REEL); 52D: Not fer (AGIN'); 55D: Wildebeest (GNU); 56D: Driver's lic. info (DOB).