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Theme: Whateva! — Familiar (?) phrases that end in ER are transformed into wacky phrases that end in A.
- 20A: Heavy metal mimic? (HARD ROCK MYNA).
- 28A: Nickname for a pharmaceuticals czar? (PILL PAPA).
- 37A: Surfing-induced torpor? (BEACH COMA).
- 49A: Sailor's pocket bread? (SALT PITA).
- 56A: Heavenly food on the nightstand? (BEDSIDE MANNA).
To be fair, BEDSIDE MANNA gave me a chuckle. And even though I typically don't like to find the word COMA in my puzzle (not sure why, it's just distasteful to me), BEACH COMA amused me for some reason. SALT PITA on the other hand is just super super dry and PILL PAPA has a clue that doesn't make any sense to me. (Wouldn't the "pharmaceuticals czar" be called the PILL CZAR?) I guess what I'm saying is the theme just felt off to me all the way around. Sometimes when that happens, it doesn't affect my solving experience, but today it definitely did.
Good stuff in the puzzle includes SMIDGEN, of course (42D: Wee bit). I kinda wanna be mad at ENNUI (38D: Lassitude), but only because it's so awesome. Let me explain. I remembered that I had once included a video clip from "Gilmore Girls" to go along with an ENNUI entry. So I went back and looked for it, and found it was back in April 2009. Well that's quite a while ago, so I thought it would be okay to run it again today. Apparently, between then and now the person who posted the video to YouTube decided to disable embedding. I wanted to be all determined and find the clip in an embeddable format, but I knew if I started poking around "Gilmore Girls" video clips I would be sucked into the YouTube vortex and never finish this write-up. So. The clip is here if you're interested. And that's really the best I can do for you today. So sorry!
- 1A: Iowa wrestling legend Dan (GABLE). No, that's not really the clue. But it could have been!
- 16A: Plantation near Twelve Oaks (TARA). I started with PITCHER where MANAGER was supposed to go (13D: Recipient of an annual baseball award since 1983), which made this answer end in an I. But I thought "Well, it must be TARA, I mean, TARA is the only plantation in CrossWorld, right?"
- 23A: Exotic guided tour (SAFARI). And we learned recently that a SAFARI might even make a good honeymoon.
- 27A: Flop (DOG). Tried SAG first.
- 34A: Chapeau's perch (TÊTE). Anyone remember the Cat in the Hat song? "Cat. Hat. In French chat chapeau. In Mexico el gato in a sombrero."
- 40A: Williams of ''Happy Days'' (ANSON). Potsie!
- 44A: One shooting the bull? (VET). The bull presumably has some sort of malady and the VETerinarian needs to give him a shot. Good luck, VETerinarian!
- 71A: Pram occupant's wear (NAPPY). This one tricked me in a good way. I thought "ONESIE doesn't fit!" but then realized the word "pram" in the clue was an indication that the answer would be a British word.
- 9D: Long-odds track wager (EXACTA). An EXACTA bet is when you choose the first- and second-place finishers in order. A QUINELLA is choosing the first- and second-place finishers in either order. And now you're ready to go to the track.
- 12D: Cargo on the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank in Lake Superior (IRON ORE). Wow, really? That's so interesting! It was carrying IRON zzzzzz….
- 32D: Zadora of "Hairspray" (PIA). Was she in the original film, the remake, or the stage production? Wikipedia to the rescue! (She was in the original film.)
- 35D: OAS member (ECUA.). I'm guessing that's an abbreviation for ECUAdor but I'm not interested enough to look it up.
- 18A: __ avis (RARA).
- 19A: Prince William's alma mater (ETON).
- 66A: Nat or Card (NL'ER).
- 21D: Rodeo prop (RIATA).
- 45D: SFO listing (ETA).
Everything Else — 1A: Cape Cod feature (GABLE); 6A: Valentine trim (LACE); 10A: Embezzle (SKIM); 14A: Medicinal plants (ALOES); 15A: Comet competitor (AJAX); 17A: Like ESP? (SIXTH); 26A: Subway co. in a 1959 song (MTA); 31A: Aim high (ASPIRE); 33A: Commotion (ADO); 36A: One bearing down (EIDER); 43A: Peevish, as a puss (SOUR); 47A: Sharp Italian cheese (ROMANO); 52A: 11th-century date (MVI); 53A: Mantel piece (URN); 55A: Crankcase reservoir (OIL PAN); 60A: Bit of plankton (ALGA); 61A: C-3PO worshiper (EWOK); 62A: Where to see government programs (C-SPAN); 67A: Sparkling wine city (ASTI); 68A: Elicit a :-) from (AMUSE); 69A: Dismally damp (DANK); 70A: "Lolita" star Sue (LYON); 1D: State of matter (GAS); 2D: Fighter who was a dove (ALI); 3D: Emulate 2-Down (BOX); 4D: Ruinous (LETHAL); 5D: F equivalent (E SHARP); 6D: Blubber (LARD); 7D: Slightly gapped (AJAR); 8D: Ricochet (CAROM); 10D: Stalk (STEM); 11D: Insect that can mimic a leaf (KATYDID); 22D: "Casey's Top 40" host (KASEM); 23D: Bad Ems attraction (SPA); 24D: Give a leg up (AID); 25D: Showman Ziegfeld (FLO); 29D: Chest muscles, briefly (PECS); 30D: Oldest musketeer (ATHOS); 37D: Zookeeper's main squeeze? (BOA); 39D: DuPont's Fiber A, now (ORLON); 40D: Worn symbol of support (ARMBAND); 41D: "Billy Budd," e.g. (NOVELLA); 44D: Certain lounge frequenter (VIP); 46D: Soak up some rays (TAN); 48D: Tough test (ORDEAL); 50D: Object of a kicking game (TIN CAN); 51D: State of matter (PLASMA); 54D: Like a thorough update (NEWSY); 57D: Cutty __: historic clipper ship (SARK); 58D: Agent inspired by Chan (MOTO); 59D: Like, with "to" (AKIN); 63D: Minor crying wolf? (PUP); 64D: Egyptian viper (ASP); 65D: Napoleonic Wars marshal (NEY).