Theme: Brrrrrr! — Familiar phrases that start with a B are changed to start with BR, creating new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.
- 18A: Short-lived agitation? (BRIEF STEW). [beef stew]
- 24A: Government security for the blind? (BRAILLE BOND). [bail bond]
- 34A: Places to buy orthopedic products? (BRACE STATIONS). [base station]
- 50A: Reserved section for an eight-time stolen base champ? (BROCK'S SEATS). [box seats]
- 56A: Place with thugs in tents? (BRUTE CAMP). [boot camp]
- 16A: Qatar University city (DOHA). I recently learned how to pronounce "Qatar" and it isn't what I expected. (From what I understand it's pronounced a lot like "cutter" except the stress on each syllable is pretty much equal.)
- 17A: Cold (ALGID). The Cruciverb.com data base indicates that this word has been used in the major puzzles six times since 1999. Frankly, I don't think that's a good enough reason to keep using it.
- 22A: Una y __ vez: time and time again (OTRA). Spanish!
- 26A: Rahm Emanuel's talent agent brother (ARI). I actually went to the same college as Ari Emanuel (and his roommate Peter Berg) for one year but don't remember Ari at all. Which seems impossible knowing what we know about him today.
- 31A: "I'll have a grande decaf triple vanilla 2% __, please" (LATTE). Starbucks humor!
- 39A: Toast opening, across the pond (ERES). I do not know what this means.
- 41A: Stand-up guys? (NO-SHOWS). I like the trickiness of this clue. Guys who make a date with you but "stand you up" can be referred to as NO-SHOWS.
- 46A: "Buy __ drink?": bar come-on (ME A). I'd like to see this one combined with 31A as a "coffee bar come-on": "Buy me a grande decaf triple vanilla 2% latte ... sailor?"
- 55A: American Society of Magazine Editors annual awards (ELLIES). No idea.
- 61A: "Hooked on Classics" record co. (K-TEL). And by "classics" they mean songs I grew up to. ::sigh::
- 1D: Actor who was a 1932 swimming gold medalist (CRABBE). I'm sure I've heard of Buster CRABBE before, but I needed every cross today. CRABBE played Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers. Cool.
- 2D: Former Texas team (OILERS). This is how long it's been since I've followed pro football. Me: "The Houston Oilers aren't a team any more?"
- 4D: "Who's there?" answer (IT IS I). Nobody says this. We all know that. But it's going to keep appearing in puzzles so we should probably just try to get past it.
- 5D: Lincoln rival (CADILLAC). Random free association video comin' right up!
- 11D: "No time to talk now" ("GOTTA RUN"). If you've been paying any attention at all, you know I love seeing these kinds of colloquial phrases in the grid.
- 31D: Small hair piece (LASH). Tried "lock" first. I didn't realize the clue was referring to a really small hair piece.
- 37D: Unlike filibusters (TERSE). My first thought was "rare." That's really sad. (If you like this comic, check out the artist's website.)
- 38D: Making out too much lately (IN A SLUMP). I like my clues tricky but there's a line and this one crossed it for me. Just a little bit too much. (For anyone who didn't quite get it, "out" in this clue refers to baseball. A baseball player who makes outs, as opposed to hits, is IN A SLUMP.)
Everything Else — 1A: Like volcanoes (CONIC); 6A: John follower (ACTS); 10A: IRS workers (AGTS.); 14A: Item of rodeo gear (RIATA); 15A: K follower (-MART); 20A: Blues legend Smith (BESSIE); 23A: Alley prowler (TOM); 27A: Ballpark fig. (EST.); 28A: Flee (LAM); 29A: Whale's blowhole, e.g. (NOSTRIL); 33A: "Earth's Children" series author (AUEL); 40A: Bluebirds, to some (OMENS); 45A: Part of un giorno (ORA); 49A: Ring stat (TKO); 53A: Sushi selection (EEL); 54A: Vintner's prefix (OENO-); 59A: Extreme (ULTRA); 60A: Software test version (BETA); 62A: Spiteful sort (MEANY); 63A: Paradise (EDEN); 64A: '60s-'70s Japanese leader (SATO); 65A: Jimmies (PRIES); 3D: Pesters (NAGS AT); 6D: Dipl. official (AMB.); 7D: Tree pod also called the locust bean (CAROB); 8D: Neptune's largest moon (TRITON); 9D: Canned heat (STERNO); 10D: Some pop-ups (ADS); 12D: Conjectures (THEORIES); 13D: Board producer (SAWMILL); 19D: They don't last (FADS); 21D: Make ecstatic (ELATE); 25D: Initial response team, for short (EMT'S); 30D: New Mexico county or its seat (TAOS); 32D: DDE's command (ETO); 34D: Negotiated (BROKERED); 35D: Steadfast (RESOLUTE); 36D: Wildly (AMOK); 39D: 1976 raid site (ENTEBBE); 42D: Double-reed instrument (OBOE); 43D: Ruins (WRECKS); 44D: Beethoven's "Hammerklavier," e.g. (SONATA); 46D: Tiki cocktail (MAI TAI); 47D: Endless, in poems (ETERNE); 48D: Tests (ASSAYS); 51D: Under-the-sink brand (COMET); 52D: "Oklahoma!" aunt (ELLER); 57D: You might get one at the pool (TAN); 58D: Mahmoud Abbas's gp. (PLO).