THEME: ON END (50D: Upright, and what's been removed to form this puzzle's theme answers) — familiar phrases that end in "-ON" have that "-ON" removed, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style
Did this in five flat, with most of the trouble coming early on (getting started, getting the theme) and very late (trying to finish up in the rough SW). I think the revealer here is a little clunky. I like that it's specific — addressing the "ON" and the fact that it comes at the end — but I would say the phrases have "-ON" endings. I might have gone with NOON as the revealer. Or ON/OFF (like some switches, or...). The grid is snazzy — lots of Scrabbly stuff. The theme yields some interesting, if mixed, results. Since when are JOHNS a word for underwear? LONG JOHNS, sure, but I've never seen JOHNS stand alone. Not saying it's never been done before, just that it's not familiar to me At All. Those JOHNS should have been bathrooms or the clientele of hookers (much, much funnier and more in-the-language). MEDIA BAR(ON) is only vaguely familiar to me as a phrase, though I can infer who might fit this category (Turner, Murdoch, etc.). All in all, good work. Wouldn't have crossed BAR and BARRE (which means "BAR"), but that's just me. Oh, and I-BAR is mocking that crossing from on high there in the north.
- 18A: Underwear that never needs washing? (MAGIC JOHNS)
- 20A: Attack of Tolkien's Ents? (TREE SURGE)
- 32A: Press watering hole? (MEDIA BAR)
- 44A: English horn? (ANGLO SAX)
- 56A: Chest bump cousin? (BELLY BUTT)
- 61A: Fido's greeting? (WELCOME WAG) — cute.
[Magic Newton-John!]As you are reading this, I am either flying across the country or have already arrived in Idaho and am enjoying the company of my extended family at my grandma's 90th birthday celebration (which officially takes place on Saturday). I'm taking my voice recorder and camera — there will be crossword-related activities. My grandma's the first person I ever saw work a crossword. Idaho! With the exception of having to get up at 4:00 am tomorrow (i.e. today), I'm terribly psyched.
Crosswordese 101: Zhou (Chou) EN-LAI (51D: 1972 host to Nixon) — first premier of China, serving from '49-'76. You will see ZHOU and CHOU in puzzles. I don't think "EN-LAI" has alternate spellings. I needed this answer today, as I had KNOT for 64A: Bump on a log (KNAR), and ACT I for 55D: Plot part, perhaps (ACRE). EDIE was only barely familiar to me (67A: Peter Gunn's girlfriend), and I had no memory of Ethan HAWKE's being in Fast Food Nation, so I needed the help of EN-LAI a lot today.
See you Monday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]