It's about time I had a puzzle that kicked my keister (see Tuesday's puzzle). And this one did. Lots of stacking, both 8-square and 6-square words. A few 9-squares thrown in for good measure.
I sat down with it last night, read over all the across clues -- and wrote nothing. Then I read all of the down clues and wrote in two answers, one of which turned out to be wrong. The right answer was 23D: Many Molly Ivins writings (opeds). I thought it should be anti-Bush, but that wouldn't fit. Unless we had another rebus and ANTI was in one square. Digression ahead...Molly Ivins was something else. She came to our little city and spoke at our little college. At the time I was friends with a former professor--a bleeding heart liberal (his words)--and he suggested/insisted that I go. Despite having a ton of studying to do that night, I went. And I will never regret it. RIP, Molly. We'll get a Democrat in next time.
Back to Randolph Ross's puzzle.
Here's my modus operandi when I get completely and utterly stuck. I move out of my comfy chair to my computer (that's the place to think, not to nap) and pull up Dogpile (All the best search engines, piled into one). I still say I Googled something, though, because it sounds gross to say I Dogpiled it.
I'd gone completely blank on 21A: 2000 film "Billy __" (Elliott). I'd seen it, I could picture the cover, but nothing came to mind. That was my first search, and it gave me somewhere to start.
Should have remembered 22A: Author of "Oedipus at Colonus" but my long-term memory wasn't kicking in. Of course, it was Sophocles. If any of my professors run across this blog and see how little I remembered, they'd be disappointed.
Next Dogpile: 35A: Reagan adviser Michael (Deaver). Never heard of him. I wasn't much into politics in the eighties. We were busy building a house in the Ozarks--no radio reception, no TV.
Fortunately, there was one 15-letter answer that I could Google/Dogpile. 45A: Resort town northwest of Naples. Unfortunately, I was thinking Italy, and I should have been thinking Florida. I had spent 25 years of my life there, and my only connection to Italy is that my mother's parents were born there. The only way I moved to Florida (in my head, that is) was when I ended up with Springs--definitely a Florida word. I'd never actually been to Sarasota Springs, and I'd really only heard of Sarasota, but it fit.
From there, I just started guessing like crazy, and it all came together. My favorite guess was 16A: Rock's Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny or Marky (Ramone). If there's an obscure (to me) rock clue, and I haven't a clue, then I guess Ramones. It works most of the time.
Some of my favorites:
17A: Got going after a crash (rebooted). Favorite clue, not a favorite thing to happen.
32A: On point (apropos). It's such a cool word. I'm going to use it in conversation today.
57A: When many Veterans Day ceremonies are scheduled (eleven am). I picked this up with just the V in place. I knew 49D: Sitarist Shankar (Ravi) but had somehow missed the clue on my initial read-through.
6D: Billboard listing (hit record).
26D: Magical in (open sesame). I got this with very little in place. Fun clue and answer.
55A: Type of salad dressing (Catalina). My husband's favorite.
28D: Highest point on the Ohio & Erie Canal (Akron). Wendy, this one's for you. You probably knew it...I had to guess it.
There was no way I was going to figure out 19A: Sign before a crossing. I was sure it had something to do with a railroad crossing. Wrong again. The correct answer (which I didn't get until I had most of the Downs in place) was Drawbridge Ahead. I have never seen that sign in my life.
Have never heard of gnar (52D: Growl), but it sounds good and angry. I'll definitely stay away from anyone today who does it.
34D: Trying person (attempter). I was initially thinking along the lines of prosecutor. Then I started thing it was someone annoying, like an irritater. Hey, they've done worse!
So many other good things, but they'll turn up in the other blogs today.
Have an A-one (46D: Dynamite) day!