Solving time: 36:10. Well under average – about 20 minutes or so – although I closed the puzzle for quite a long time after attempting to solve it the first time, rather than trying to solve the grid in one go. Anyway, breezy.
As evidenced by the fact that this blogpost probably won’t be published until after midnight, I’m low on time today, so this one will be a quickie. Actually, maybe I can indeed publish this before the clock strikes 12. Let’s try.
The NE corner of this puzzle vanished very quickly – in under 2 minutes, actually. I knew the answer to 14D: Nonactor with cameos in 20 Marvel movies (STAN LEE) as soon as I saw it, and a clue similar to 18A: “Bleeding Love” singer Lewis (LEONA) appeared in a fairly recent puzzle (can’t remember which one). On top of that, a three-letter clue about an art medium – 25A: Medium for many 13-Down – is bound to be OIL; I mean, what else could it possibly be?
There’s a Beach Boys song called “California Feelin,'” which idealizes the Southern California landscape and weather. It has a line in it about how you have to remember sunny California when it’s cold and gray in New York. With that East Coast-West Coast contrast in mind, I was able to fill in I LOVE LA astonishingly quickly for 38D: Song that starts “Hate New York City / It’s cold and it’s damp.” I also saw through the pun in 37A: Person with a lot on his plate? and immediately knew that it had to be BIG EATER, even though that’s a phrase that I don’t use particularly often (though it is quite common, I suppose).
The UL corner had me guessing for quite a while, since I only had STEM (19A: Non-humanities acronym) in that section of the grid after my first couple go-arounds. But once I figured out WHAT’S THAT (1A: “Come again?”), it disappeared pretty fast. I don’t have enough time to check now, but I’m almost certain that ESTATE TAX (17A: Trust issue?) has been recycled from an older puzzle. I sorta frown upon that, since phrases longer than four or five characters really shouldn’t turn into banal crosswordese. There are enough permutations of vowels and consonants once you pass the threshold of five characters that you shouldn’t have to reuse particular words over and over again.
A couple of tricky clues:
- Mostly because my family was never the type to use boxed food mixes, this was the first time that I heard of RICE-A-RONI (15A: Brand whose first commercial featured a cable car) which is apparently “pilaf-like” and “consists of rice, vermicelli, pasta, and seasonings” (Mr. Wikipedia).
- Is it just me, or do I keep seeing references to “All My Children”? I swear that this is my fourth or fifth time this summer that the TV show has appeared in a grid, this time with ERICA (26A: Emmy-winning Susan Lucci role).
- I thought that diner lingo in the clue [28A: “On the hoof,” in diner lingo] was referring to the answer and not the phrase “On the hoof” itself. Whatever. Anyway, “on the hoof” means “any kind of meat cooked rare,” according to this website.
- I didn’t understand the reference in 27D: Batman? (CASEY) until I looked up the words “casey” and “bat” together. Apparently, there’s a poem called “Casey at the Bat” about baseball. I’m assuming it’s famous.
- I don’t think anyone who doesn’t do crosswords regularly would know that a “rush” doesn’t just mean a hurry, but rather a “marsh or waterside plant with slender stemlike pith-filled leaves.” Like, do you expect me to be a plantologist, Will Shortz? What’s the actual word for plantologist? Oh right, botany. Anyway, that’s why REED is the answer to 46A: Rush, e.g.
- I was almost certain that 8D: “On end, to Donne” was one of those foreign language clues where the constructor is asking you what a word means in the language of the person whose name is in the clue. I thought Donne might be a French name, which left me hopeless since I don’t know any phrases in French. But no! This clue was asking us to examine the relationship between “on end” and “Donne” – the two words are ANAGRAMs of each other! Bruh.
- 56D: Beatles title girl with a “little white book” is a reference to “Lovely Rita.” I would post a link, but the song isn’t on YouTube?? Copyright issues???
Lovely Rita, meter maid…
Kenneth, lowly serf of Crossworld