Author: Lee Glickstein
Theme: Five two-word phrases with a repeated long-vowel sound have those sounds shifted up to the previous phrase. Yes, it's as crazy as it sounds.
- Pay grade => PEA GREED (17a: Vegetarian's sin?).
- Clean sweep => CLINE SWIPE (24a: Criticism of the singer of "Crazy"?).
- High tide => HOE TOED (38a: Like Edward Scissorfeet?).
- Hope floats => HOOP FLUTES (52a: Encircle champagne glasses?).
- Who knew? => HAY NEIGH (63a: Barn sound that means "I'm hungry"?).
I'm going to be brutally honest here. I hate this theme. First, it wasn't until well after I had slogged through the puzzle that I figured out what the theme was. Sure, I noticed the double vowel sounds, but it was not at all clear what the pattern was. I finally was able to discern the pattern, with a little help from the title, but it was too little too late. Second, every single theme entry feels incredibly forced and, with the possible exception of Edward Scissorfeet, there is no humor to be found. And since when are scissors and hoes equivalent? Nope, for me, this one gets a resounding "Yuck!"
- 1a: Org. in the Justice Department (ATF). This was my third choice, after FBI and DEA.
- 4a: TV host with the catchphrase "I kid you not" (PAAR).
- 14a: Small contraction? (LI'L).
- 16a: Work of art (OEUVRE). Good fill word.
- 19a: "Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me" author Boyd (PATTIE).
- 21a: Crime perpetrators, in police slang (DOERS). Doers? Really? I've read and watched my fair share of crime drama, and I don't ever recall hearing that one.
- 31a: Like some illusions (OPTICAL). This is one of my favorite illusions. As much as your brain wants it to be otherwise, the "dark" square, A, and the "light" square, B, are exactly the same shade of gray.
- 36a: Female teacher of history? (MARM).
- 37a: Put out, in a way (TAG). Baseball reference.
- 42a: M.'s counterpart (MME). Monsieur and Madame.
- 47a: One walking down the aisle? (SHOPPER). Cute.
- 54a: Robusto! maker (RAGU).
- 58a: Hit locale (SIDE A).
- 71a: Snort (NIP). I went for SIP at first.
- 1d: High caste member in "Brave New World" (ALPHA).
- 3d: Short pass to a running back near the sideline (FLARE).
- 4d: Madison Square ___ (PARK).
- 5d: Fiver (ABE).
- 6d: Pale brew (ALE). Nope, even the beer reference isn't going to save this one.
- 7d: ___-wip (dessert topping) (REDDI).
- 9d: San Francisco Chronicle parent company (HEARST).
- 10d: Beat in the first leg of a triathlon (OUTSWIM).
- 18d: Title character who never shows up (GODOT).
- 22d: "Yes, I'm a Witch" artist (Yoko ONO). She has shown up way more than Brian ENO lately.
- 26d: Start of Caesar's boast (I CAME).
- 27d: Italian city famed for its cheese (PARMA).
- 28d: Elsie's bull (ELMER).
- 33d: Studly (MACHO).
- 34d: Northern hemisphere? (IGLOO).
- 40d: Sources of hubris (EGOS).
- 46d: "Mr. Tuesday Night" (BERLE).
- 48d: Maker of Zoloft (PFIZER). The PF combination is always kind of cool.
- 50d: Calle, across the Pyrenees (RUE). French for "road".
- 53d: Lake that Fredo Corleone is killed on (TAHOE).
- 55d: Like a cardinal (AVIAN).
- 56d: 2003 role for Affleck (GIGLI). The fill is more interesting than the film, I'll give it that.
- 59d: "Years of Minutes" author Rooney (ANDY).
- 60d: Timber-dressing tool (ADZ).
Suns of Bitches:
- 8a: Indian city that was the site of a deadly gas leak in 1984 (BHOPAL). I had everything but the last letter, which crossed 13d: Jackie's younger sister (LEE). I don't like this crossing at all. An Indian city name crossing a girl's name that ends in _EE? It could be anything: B, D, L, R, Z,...
- 20a: Impresario Sol (HUROK). Whatever.
- 59a: Shortstop Dark who was the 1948 Rookie of the Year (ALVIN). It's Wednesday. How about a "Chipmunks" clue?
- 69a: Gourmet store on the Upper West Side (ZABARS). Unfair to anyone outside of NYC. Especially crossing another name that could be anything. 61d: Benaderet of "Petticoat Junction" (BEA) could just as easily have been BEE or BEV or BEL. I could easily envision a store called "Z.L. Bar's".
- 24d: Rosabella's friend in "The Most Happy Fella" (CLEO).
- 44d: Swedish city near Stockholm (UPPSALA). This was only vaguely familiar once I had it from the crossings.
It's hard to compensate for a poor theme. Here, a dull and unhelpful theme combined with too many nasty clues and crossings that made this puzzle solve much more like a Weekend Warrior than a Wednesday, only not as enjoyable. I haven't disliked a puzzle this much in quite some time. It just didn't work for me at all.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.