THEME: Airline puns — familiar two-word phrases from the world of flight are turned into puns and clued "?"-style
Expectations have everything to do with how difficult I think a puzzle is. For instance, I did today's NYT in 7:01 and today's LAT in 5:21, but the former felt (and was, comparatively) blazing fast, where the latter felt like a struggle (though the time is pretty avg. for me). I expect to get kicked around by a Friday NYT, but I expect a Friday LAT to be little different from the rest of the week, i.e. pretty easy. I enjoyed the toughness today, especially when I was done and could see that yes, there was a theme, and it was fairly coherent. I finished up in the SE and needed every single cross for the final theme answer, as I thought I was dealing with PLANET-something. This means the "K" in POCKET (50D: Sink, as a billiard ball) was the last letter in. First letter in: the "A" in ARCED (1A: Like a javelin's path), right off the bat.
Biggest struggle was the NE, where PILATE did not come to me except with much effort. I was not thinking Bible. I was thinking classical literature. Nothing was coming. Nothing. Now that I look back at that section, I realize that I put CHILI'S down quickly (9D: Tex-Mex restaurant chain), and then couldn't do a thing with the Acrosses. This make very little strategic sense, because if I'd simply looked at the Down next to CHILI'S — 10D: Bits of wisdom? (PEARLS) — I would have gotten it instantly and then the CP- would have given me CPLUS (9A: 2.3, roughly) and I'd have been in and out of there quickly. Instead, I abandoned the section and returned to it later. Irritating. I should be more disciplined than that by now.
Never seen KRA (40D: Malay Peninsula's Isthmus of ___), RIVA (39D: 1972 Kentucky Derby winner ___ Ridge), or TSR (64D: Dungeons & Dragons co.) outside of crosswords, and so am not that fond of them as answers. I'm not sure I've ever seen RIVA before today. That "V" was right in the middle of an answer I struggled to get: LIVES ON (44A: Stays in memory). It's a fine clue, but I didn't have many crosses. Knew it was something IN or ON. So I guess that little western section was the second-toughest part of the puzzle today. Isthmus of KRA sounds like someplace Flash Gordon liked to hang out. Oh, and I had RUBY Ridge as the Kentucky Derby winner at first. I was thinking about Ruby Ridge recently, as I was in the Idaho panhandle just last week for my grandma's 90th birthday party. Which reminds me, I made a tribute puzzle for her. I offered it to readers of my other blog, and now I'm offering it to you. Just hit "Print," below, or go here (to Orange's site) to get an AcrossLite/.puz version.
- 17A: Capri beach chairs? (ISLE SEATS)
- 25A: Quiz a Roman judge? (TEST PILATE)
- 38A: Affable terriers? (FRIENDLY SKYES)
- 51A: Really dark beers? (BLACK BOCKS)
- 63A: This puzzle's title? (PLANE TALK)
See you Monday.
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Everything Else — 1A: Like a javelin's path (ARCED); 6A: Balancing pro? (CPA); 9A: 2.3, roughly (C-PLUS); 14A: "The Wreck of the Mary __" (DEARE); 15A: Steak seasoning (RUB); 16A: Picked up (HEARD); 17A: Capri beach chairs? (ISLE SEATS); 19A: Rhythmic feet? (IAMBS); 20A: Faint (DIM); 21A: "The Metaphysics of Ethics" author (KANT); 22A: Camera type, briefly (SLR); 23A: Sailing, say (ASEA); 25A: Quiz a Roman judge? (TEST PILATE); 30A: Play with a brushing motion (STRUM); 32A: Fights in the sticks (RASSLES); 33A: Idealist (DREAMER); 37A: Post-WWII alliance (OAS); 38A: Affable terriers? (FRIENDLY SKYES); 42A: "Who, me?" ("MOI?"); 43A: They're not content to see you (RAISERS); 44A: Stays in memory (LIVES ON); 47A: Greek fabulist (AESOP); 51A: Really dark beers? (BLACK BOCKS); 55A: See 54-Down (REMO); 56A: Golfer's concern (LIE); 57A: Many a Middle Easterner (ARAB); 59A: Tokyo-based chip maker (NEC); 60A: Where to see an approaching train? (ALTAR); 63A: This puzzle's title? (PLANE TALK); 65A: Like a game in baseball's record books (NO-HIT); 66A: Sitcom E.T. (ALF); 67A: Coco rival (ESTEE); 68A: Traveling options (TOURS); 69A: Pin site (MAT); 70A: "Grace Under Fire" star Butler (BRETT); 1D: Puma competitor (ADIDAS); 2D: Put up a fight (RESIST); 3D: Less windy, say (CALMER); 4D: Bard's preposition (ERE); 5D: Certain sergeant's post (DESK); 6D: Rail relative (CRANE); 7D: Uses the "flat stick," in golf (PUTTS); 8D: Workout targets (ABS); 9D: Tex-Mex restaurant chain (CHILI'S); 10D: Bits of wisdom? (PEARLS); 11D: Flight (LAM); 12D: Suffix with sub- (URB); 13D: 1968 Columbia U. protesters (SDS); 18D: Put away (EAT); 22D: Hardly dense (SPARSE); 24D: BMW competitor (AUDI); 26D: Small diamonds (TREYS); 27D: Soothing lotion (ALOE); 28D: Chai and oolong (TEAS); 29D: Mountain road feature (ESS); 31D: Desert Storm mess, briefly? (MRE); 34D: Prepare for court, perhaps (ENROBE); 35D: Town in a 1945 Pulitzer-winning novel (ADANO); 36D: 11th-century year (MLI); 38D: Prevent (FOIL); 39D: 1972 Kentucky Derby winner __ Ridge (RIVA); 40D: Malay Peninsula's Isthmus of __ (KRA); 41D: Belgian river (YSER); 42D: Bud Selig's org. (MLB); 45D: Iced pastry (ECLAIR); 46D: Sidesteps (SKIRTS); 48D: Legislative century (SENATE); 49D: It's folded and filled (OMELET); 50D: Sink, as a billiard ball (POCKET); 52D: __ lily (CALLA); 53D: "Make today delicious" food giant (KRAFT); 54D: With 55-Across, Italian site of a post-WWI Allied conference (SAN); 58D: U.K. network, with "the" (BEEB); 60D: Hill dweller (ANT); 61D: Manchester head? (LOO); 62D: Cal. column (THU.); 63D: Robin's "Mork & Mindy" co-star (PAM); 64D: Dungeons & Dragons co. (TSR).