Author: Michael Blake
Theme: Two-word phrases or compound words that can take "FIRE" after the first part and before the second part
- 18a: Billy the Kid, for one (GUN FIGHTER). gunfire, fire fighter.
- 23a: Isolated place (BACKWATER). backfire, firewater.
- 40a: Thunder and lightning occur during it (ELECTRICAL STORM). you get the idea.
- 51a: Realtor's showing (OPEN HOUSE).
- 60a: Yawn, in slang (CATCH FLIES). nice colorful expression here.
- 71a: Word that goes after the start of and before the end of the five longest answers in this puzzle (FIRE).
a fine theme, with five rock-solid entries and a "helper" theme entry in the SE corner. also, BACKWATER and CATCH FLIES are both really nice. this is the monday theme we should have had on monday.
nothing really caught my eye. the fill was fine overall, but there wasn't really a "wow" entry in the bunch.
- 1a: Devices that read checks (ATMS). do they really? i always assumed they just printed something on the deposit envelope and somebody would come around and collect them every day.
- 9a: New Zealand native (MAORI). this is the third time i've seen this fill word in the last two days. but you already knew that i do too many crossword puzzles.
- 15a: Horn in on? (GORE). great clue, if somewhat violent.
- 16a: Noted millionaire on the Titanic (ASTOR). that's john jacob ASTOR IV, the great-grandson of the original ASTOR magnate.
- 22a: Animated hedgehog (SONIC). sega!
- 30a: Scoundrel (HEEL). this is a fun definition for HEEL.
- 31a: Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, familiarly (EROICA) and 39a: Key of 31-Across (E FLAT). a nice matched set. beethoven was going to call it the napoleon symphony, but grew disenchanted with the little man and changed it to honor heroes generically. the similarity of EROICA to EROTICA makes it fun to think about possible cryptic crossword clues.
- 33a: With 11-Down, Hall of Famer inducted the same year as Jimmie Foxx (MEL/OTT). it's a rare treat for OTT to get his first name into the grid.
- 43a: Church offering (TITHE). an offering to the church, not of the church.
- 44a: "Nick and ___'s Infinite Playlist" (2008 movie) (NORAH). i don't think i know this movie, but i was inexorably reminded of nick and nora(h?) charles, so i got it anyway.
- 46a: Tennis player Stefan (EDBERG). great player, although i was more of a boris becker fan myself. edberg used the continental grip on his forehand, unlike pretty much every other player ever. it meant his forehand kind of sucked, but he had the advantage of using the same grip for all of his shots (serve, forehand, backhand, and volley), and he mostly lived at the net anyway.
- 56a: Hafiz's faith (ISLAM). apparently "hafiz" is the term for someone who has completely memorized the qur'an. i didn't know that, but the word looked arabic enough.
- 66a: Chilean pianist Claudio (ARRAU). i know this name from crosswords. goes with the beethoven fill to complete a nice classical sub-theme.
- 67a: First name in scat (ELLA fitzgerald). it's kind of incongruous to see her stacked on top of 70a: Tara of "Alone in the Dark" (REID).
- 2d: Pulsate (THROB). i like this word.
- 4d: Cry while applauding an honoree (SPEECH!). fun clue!
- 10d: Bush 43's first Attorney General (john ASHCROFT). he holds the dubious distinction of having lost a senatorial race to a posthumous opponent, mel carnahan.
- 12d: Preschoolers? (ROE). this one i've seen too many times. but it goes nicely with 5d: Bird-to-be (EGG).
- 21d: Bloodsucking insect, informally (SKEETER). give me a harry potter clue any day.
- 25d: Leader of the Chipmunks (ALVIN). did peter gordon run out of ALVIN dark clues? :)
- 27d: ___ Olay (OIL OF). you rarely see partial phrases in the sun crossword, and this is a particularly awkward one. i'm surprised peter OKed it.
- 28d: Cow (SCARE). i didn't see this clue while solving. pretty tricky for a tuesday, using the verb sense of "cow."
- 29d: Words on a Wonderland cake (EAT ME). there are other, less decorous, ways of cluing this answer.
- 41d: Like some warfare (CHEMICAL). well then. there are solvers who will get up in arms, so to speak, about clues referencing warfare or other downers, but i'm not one of them. still, this clue didn't do much for me.
- 47d: Go for the green (GOLF). clever, although the clue seems to be slightly more specific than the answer. on some shots, you're not going for the green at all, just trying to stay on the fairway. and of course, once you're already on the green, you're not still going for the green; you're going for the cup. so i think a ? is definitely warranted.
- 53d: Remy's brother in "Ratatouille" (ÉMILE). i think rémy is the chef and ÉMILE is his fat brother, but it could be the other way around. this is one of the few movies my son has "seen."
- 54d: Manhattan restaurateur Vincent (SARDI). this one i knew. SARDI's is the midtown restaurant with all the caricatures on the walls.
- 55d: "The ___ Sanction" (1972 Trevanian novel) (EIGER). i have no idea why this popped into my head. it doesn't sound like something i would know. who's travanian? what's this novel about? no idea--i must have seen it in a puzzle some time.
- 61d: Están, across the Gibraltar border (ARE). gibraltar has been a british territory since the treaty of utrecht in 1713. i just thought you should know that.
Suns of Bitches:
- 48a: Dancing ___ (1990s "Tonight Show" skit) (ITOS). i don't even know how to parse this answer. is ITOS one word, or two? it os? i tos? perhaps three? dancing I to S? i must admit to a certain ignorance of 1990s tonight show skits. update: here's a video. thanks to evad for the link.
- 7d: "To Be or Not to Be" director Lubitsch (ERNST). i've never heard of this director, or this movie. on the other hand, i know hamlet pretty well.
overall, this puzzle felt more like a monday than a tuesday. it also felt more like a monday than yesterday's puzzle, and i solved it quite a bit faster. but i also didn't have much to say about this one.