Wow! Good challenge today! I had to chip away at sections of this grid and, in the end, I even had a mistake. And you know the only reason I admit that is to make y'all feel better if you had trouble too! For some reason I thought PINKETT sounded just fine for 33A (Gettysburg general (PICKETT)). And even though I couldn't make sense of NTS (34D: Tender abbr. (CTS.)) I let it stand. I thought NTS might be an abbreviation for notes or National Treasury … something. I rationalized it is what I'm saying. In my own defense, I will say that if I wasn't under pressure to blog the puzzle in a timely fashion, I probably would have set it down and picked it up again later. You know how that works, right? You can't make heads or tails of a certain section of the puzzle, but when you come back to it ten minutes later it's glaringly clear. What is it that happens in those ten minutes??? I don't know, but I'm very grateful for whatever it is on late-week NYT puzzles, I know that much.
The last letter I entered into the grid was the V at the cross of VAUNT and VIGILS (43A: Crow / 43D: Watches). I originally had a T there, thinking "taunting" was close enough to "crowing." Obviously, VAUNT is better. I mean, even aside from the fact that it's, ya know … right. With the T there, I thought I was looking for a brand of wristwatches. GAP was a gimme (51A: Old Navy is one of its brands), so I knew it wasn't Timex. Figured it must be some high-end watch that's not in my universe. But I felt uneasy enough about that T to go back and suss it out. (Unlike that stupid N I had up in "Pinkett.")
Non-sports-minded people probably a little trouble with this one, as there seemed to be a mini sports theme running through the grid:
- 44A: Five-time Fiesta Bowl champs, for short (ASU).
- 48A: Six-time U.S. Open winner (EVERT).
- 8D: Two __: hockey advantage (ON ONE).
- 24D: Major college football's winningest coach (PATERNO).
- 32D: Amer. Airlines Center player (MAV).
- 56D: Football Hall of Famer Dawson (LEN).
I also enjoyed the two humorous quotes:
- 37A: "I intend to live __. So far, so good": Steven Wright (FOREVER).
- 7D: "Knowing all the facts," according to Woody Allen (PARANOIA).
Couple more things:
- 1A: Comfort food snack for some, briefly (P B AND J). Chunky Skippy, seedless strawberry jelly, and a side of Ruffles potato chips. Comfort? More like heaven.
- 7A: You might be unprepared for it (POP QUIZ). Nice Scrabbly entry.
- 25A: One of the Allmans (DUANE). I went looking for a vide of Travis Tritt singing "Put Some Drive in Your Country" because at the end of it he sings: "Now I still love old country / I ain't tryin' to put it down / But damn I miss Duane Allman / I wish he was still around." That's how it is on the original recording anyway. Unfortunately, more people who fit the context of the lyric have died since then and he substitutes their names in for Allman's. Actually, the name he uses most often these days is Waylon (as in Jennings) and I don't think he really fits the context of the lyric. I mean, I know he was an "outlaw" and everything, but he was still country. Unless I have no idea what I'm talking about. Which is always a distinct possibility. After all that, I suppose I should at least let you hear the song. Oh man! Looks like all the Travis videos are non-embeddable. Curses! Foiled again! If you're actually still paying attention to this tangent, well first I should thank you — you're awesome! And second, here's a link to one of the videos if you're interested.
- 29A: LP filler? (MNO). This just means that the letters MNO are between L and P in the alphabet.
- 55A: Salad bar option (ITALIAN). Following up on my Obama lunch story yesterday. I've heard that he's gone to Ray's Hell Burger on two separate occastions. Ray's is awesome and all, but ya know what? He needs to go The Italian Store. (I know there are some northern Virginians reading this who agree with me.)
- 3D: Axillae (ARMPITS). Did we just have this in a puzzle this week? Or was that the NYT?
- 5D: Bishop's rte. (DIAG.). Chess!
- 11D: Not intended (UNMEANT). This is a clunker. A big, fat clunker.
- 13D: Remote (ZAPPER). Do people call a remote a ZAPPER? We call it a "clicker" here at the PuzzleHouse. I think of a ZAPPER as that think that bugs get zapped on.
- 21D: Handbag counterparts (MAN PURSES). I was watching a Ron White comedy special on TV this evening and he used the term that I think is more common for this: "man bag."
- 28D: Protect from erosion, as a riverbank (REVET). Not familiar with this word, but it looks legit and it is Saturday after all.
- 45D: __ Minor (URSA). This is the only crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered. And I didn't really see any more. That's awesome.
Everything Else — 14A: Country with a mostly red, white and blue flag (SERBIA); 15A: Receiving aid (ANTENNA); 16A: It makes it easier for you to lose your balance (ATM CARD); 18A: General plan (ROAD MAP); 19A: Time out? (NAP); 20A: Einstein and Planck, e.g. (GERMANS); 22A: Unproven ability, for short (ESP); 23A: Brew choice (DRIP); 26A: Scruff (NAPE); 27A: Its capital is Doha (QATAR); 30A: Colombian title (SEÑOR); 31A: Modus operandi (SYSTEM); 35A: Weighed (EVALUATED); 39A: Forgetful, in a way (SENILE); 46A: It may be thrown in (TOWEL); 47A: Digging, so to speak (INTO); 50A: Part of a stage question (TO BE); 52A: Urges (PRESSES); 54A: Accident consequence (JAM); 57A: Trig inverse (ARCSINE); 59A: Driving need (LICENSE); 60A: Shade of pink (SALMON); 61A: Like aftershave (SCENTED); 62A: Wide of the mark (ERRANT); 1D: Things to mind (P'S AND Q'S); 2D: Radioactive emission (BETA RAY); 4D: "Heroes" home (NBC); 6D: "Chapter 27" star Leto (JARED); 9D: Class-conscious orgs.? (PTAS); 10D: Logical letters (QED); 12D: Up the creek (IN A SPOT); 17D: Word with kettle or steel (DRUM); 26D: Is unobliged to (NEED NOT); 30D: Shooting sport (SKEET); 36D: Unlike matzo (LEAVENED); 37D: Monomaniac (FANATIC); 38D: Beat (OUTPACE); 40D: Mount Suribachi's island (IWO JIMA); 41D: Part of ancient Phoenicia, today (LEBANON); 42D: Gold, e.g. (ELEMENT); 48D: Remove (ERASE); 49D: Clipped (TERSE); 52D: Pub serving (PINT); 53D: __ tissue (SCAR); 58D: Point-and-shoot alternative, briefly (SLR).