I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit. There are definitely a few clunkers in the grid, but there was enough good stuff that I was still mostly happy throughout. I have to say that I'm pretty disappointed with the difficulty level this week. This puzzle was way easier than I like to see on a Saturday. But perhaps at this point that horse is dead and I should stop beating it?
Let's get the clunkers out of the way so we can get to the good stuff:
- 32A: Protected whale (SEI). Ne-Ever heard of this. SEI is typically clued as the Italian word for "six," but it shows up in the cruciverb.com data base seven times since 1998 and four of those times were in the LAT. So I guess it might be a good idea to give a couple brain cells up to the cause of remembering it. Not too many though.
- 55A: Seine feeder (AUBE). I'm the first to admit that I'm terrible with my European rivers, but I don't feel bad about not knowing this one.
- 8D: LPs (RECS). Terrible, terrible abbreviation for RECordS. Just awful.
- 19D: Tilted type: Abbr. (ITALS.). Disappointed by the gratuitous plural here. "Italics" (even in plural) is abbreviated "ital." Says PuzzleGirl.
- 10A: Soyuz letters (CCCP). Never heard of Soyuz and assumed it was a place. Turns out it's a Russian space program.
- 14A: Lakers forward Lamar (ODOM). I always remember that it starts with an O and ends with an M, but I'm never sure about those letters in the middle. I should pay more attention to basketball.
- 15A: Kentucky college town with an annual Spoonbread Festival (BEREA). Wow, I bet that's an awesome event. (This coming from someone who many years ago mightily enjoyed the Duck Races in Deming, New Mexico.)
- 16A: Ding Dong relative (HO HO). Ding Dongs and HO HOs are, of course, a type of "food" produced by Hostess Brands.
- 20A: More important matters (BIGGER FISH TO FRY). No question the best thing in the grid.
- 22A: Atelier items (EASELS). I learned the word "atelier" when I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in college.
- 50A: 1890s warning song for sailors (ASLEEP IN THE DEEP). I don't recall ever hearing this phrase, but with enough Es and Ps in place, it was pretty easy to figure it out.
- 54A: Avon work, say (DOOR-TO-DOOR SALES). Speaking of "ding dong"!
- 57A: Longtime Balkan leader (TITO).
- 1D: Nestlé peanut snack (GOOBERS). I hope whoever came up with this name was promptly fired.
- 12D: Commercial tuna (CHARLIE). Very cute. This is the Chicken of the Sea cartoon tuna you might have seen your TV machine.
- 38D: Penn and others (IVIES). I wasn't thinking University of Pennsylvania at all.
P.S. The guy on the right will be here tomorrow to talk about the Sunday syndicated puzzle, so come on back.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
- 42A: Bit of rodeo gear (REATA).
- 44A: Ron who played Tarzan (ELY).
- 60A: Orwell's alma mater (ETON).
- 30D: Andean staple (OCA).
Everything Else — 1A: Big event (GALA); 5A: Acid-tongued (ACERB); 17A: Like versatile antennas (OMNIDIRECTIONAL); 21A: Picking up a prescription, say (ERRAND); 23A: Go green, in a way (REUSE); 24A: PETA concern (FUR); 27A: Karaoke essential (LYRIC); 28A: ID theft item (SSN); 29A: Compound cry of displeasure (BOO HISS); 33A: Jalopy (CRATE); 34A: Primatologist's subject (APE); 37A: Spa fixture (JACUZZI); 39A: Scale notes (FAS); 45A: Memorable WWII gesture (V-SIGN); 47A: Boat ramp site (MARINA); 49A: Saw-toothed formation (SIERRA); 56A: TV exec Arledge (ROONE); 58A: Got the lead out (SPED); 59A: Expressed reproval of (TSKED); 2D: Finds appealing (ADMIRES); 3D: Words signifying commitment (LONG RUN); 4D: Juanita's friends (AMIGAS); 5D: "__ Without Wings": Celtic Thunder song (A BIRD); 6D: "What's My Line?" panelist (CERF); 7D: "... kissed thee __ killed thee": Othello (ERE I); 9D: Soak (BATHE); 10D: Particular (CHOOSY); 11D: Gives (CONFERS); 13D: Study of govt. (POLY-SCI); 18D: Bright star in Cygnus (DENEB); 24D: Compel (FORCE); 25D: Ryder rival (UHAUL); 26D: Like five-diamond hotels (RITZY); 31D: Slangy word before or after "who" (SEZ); 34D: Ill-fated attackers of 1588 and 1589 (ARMADAS); 35D: Meteorological metaphor (PEA SOUP); 36D: Spot for a stud (EARLOBE); 37D: Critic Maslin (JANET); 39D: Like s'more-makers' faces (FIRELIT); 40D: Accept (AGREE TO); 41D: Attaches with a click (SNAPS ON); 43D: Like most stadiums (TIERED); 46D: Calm (SEDATE); 48D: Left on the boat (APORT); 49D: Tear up (SHRED); 51D: Church exchange, perhaps (I DO'S); 52D: Breakfast spot (NOOK); 53D: Muscle quality (TONE).