I know I've read Karen Tracey's comments at Diary of a Crossword Fiend, but I couldn't remember how many of her puzzles I've seen in the last several months. I did some checking around and found five or six--all fairly difficult puzzles that I really struggled with.
I'd like to say that this one was easier...
...but I'd be lying.
Check out the scarcity of black squares--only 25 in the whole puzzle. And talk about out-of-the-ordinary fill! I know that I haven't seen any of these in recent puzzles:
1A: Extracurricular activity traditionally for men (glee club)
15A: Digitalis source (foxglove)
28A: Valium, generically (Diazepam)
38A: Opera that opens on Christmas Eve (La bohème)
50A: County holding part of Yosemite National Park (Mariposa). It would have been a gimme if it had been clued "Spanish for butterfly."
23D: Shameless hussies (Jezebels)
And how about this clever cluing?
52A: Old-fashioned letter opener: Abbr. (Messrs). I was trying to think of an abbrevation for some antique knife or sword.
54A: Complex component (neurosis). That's just too good. And there's a nice psychological tie with 33D: Extreme bovarism (egomania).
59A: Not fleshed out (skeletal). Ditto.
I had very few gimmes in this. I guessed 4D: Einsteins (eggheads) from the H...the result of knowing 19A: Fix at a farrier's (reshoe).
40A: Best Actor nominee for "Affliction," 1998 (Nolte). Did I say yesterday that I have the hots for Nicolas Cage? I meant Nick Nolte. I fell in love with him as Tom Jordache in the 1976 miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. This was before the days of VCRs, so I had to stay home all those nights to watch it...and I was single! I just saw that it's available on DVD. I just might have to get it. I tried to read the novel (by Irwin Shaw) earlier this year, but it just wasn't the same. Some things just need the visual.
I had a couple of partial answers. 14D: Pirates' domain (open seas). I was thinking high seas, but none of the acrosses were making sense. Not that 9A: Measure of reflected light (albedo) or 18A: Kind of case (dative) made much sense. Oh, duh, now I get it. That kind of case. My dictionary lists as an example: I gave the book to Jack. I gave him the book. When I had *A*I*E, I wanted it to be valise. That's the kind of case I was thinking.
Another partial answer for me was 32D: Colt handler (gunsmith). I knew it had something to do with guns (as opposed to horses). My childhood home was on Winchester Lane in Gun Club Estates. Others streets were Colt, Garand and Browning. That's the only way I know anything about guns.
A few weeks ago we had smew, which appears again at 47A, clued as Old World duck. I love its intersection at the W...41D: Qualm (twinge). Mostly I love that I remembered it.
Just yesterday we had hater, clued as Misanthrope. Today it appears at 58A: Bigots (haters). A better clue today, IMOO.
I liked 11D: River craft (bateau), although I only know it as a neckline. A very flattering neckline.
And I haven't even mentioned all the Scrabbly letters. Foxglove (see above) shares its X with 3D: Has substance (exists), and its V with 7D: A.C.C. member (UVA). I assume that has something to do with sports--my weakest area.
That's a wrap. I'll see you tomorrow.