When I saw six clues in all caps, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. And I got it.
John Sheehan's Thursday puzzle is a winner in my book. I don't ask much, really. Anagrams, circles in the grid, anything out of the ordinary, and I'm a happy solver.
I think this took me about a half hour, but it's always exciting to finish a Thursday puzzle sans Google.
The six theme clues and answers are:
20A: PROSE (knotted ropes)
28A: TORSO (tangled roots)
37A: SAP (faux pas). My favorite. Not only is it a great word, it has an X.
39A: LEAD (bad deal)
45A: GENRES (tossed greens)
55A: BAIRNS (addled brains). This was the aha answer for me.
Once you got the theme, the answers fell pretty quickly. Unscramble the clue and come up with an adjective.
I was equally pleased with some of the fill and eXcited to see X appear two more times.
33D: Fifth-century invader of Britain (Saxon) and 42A: Car bar (axle).
11D: One of two A.L. teams (Sox) and 19A: Kiboshed (nixed).
The two anniversary clues were nice, sitting there side by side like a happy couple. 6D: Fifth-anniversary gift (wood) and 7D: 55th-anniversary gift (emerald).
Also liked the intersection of 46D: In position to inherit the throne, say (eldest) with 59A: Progeny (issue). That's a word I might not have done without a legal background.
Clever cluing at 59D: Measures of brightness (IQs), 66A: Well-known maker of two-by-fours (LEGO), 51A: Yarn producer? (liar), and 10D: You can see through it (iris).
A couple of answers I didn't much care for:
3D: Spasm (throe). It just looks funny in the singular.
49D: Ripe for a trial lawyer (suable). Not a word in my book, but I liked the theme so much, I'm willing to let it slide.
For some reason, the northwest corner eluded me for the longest time. I just couldn't think of anything for 1A: Smithereens (bits), and all I could think of for 14A: Source of misery was woes, rather than the correct ache. Once I got bits, then 1D: Support (back) came to me, and it all fell into place.
When I read the clue for 44A (Turn blue, e.g.), my first thought (morbid as it may be) was die, which I wrote in. That made 26D (Cornered) a complete mystery. What would end in ai? Then another aha moment! Dye (that's a better way to turn blue!) opened my eyes to see that at bay was the answer for 26D.
I can't make any sense of 5A: America's Cup, e.g. I'm certain that the downs are correct, but that gives me ewer. Can anyone explain that one?
I get to have another birthday tomorrow without getting any older. For some reason, my co-workers thought my birthday was the 21st. Bring on the cake!
And I hope to see you then.