Circles...two days in a row! I was beside myself with joy!
I didn't time myself on Peter Collins's puzzle, but I zipped through it. The theme is revealed at 58A: Earlier...or a hint to the words circled in 17-, 21-, 37- and 51-Across (beforehand). The theme answers are:
17A: Masonry work that may be smoothed with a trowel (stucco wall) => cow hand.
21A: Shoving away, football-style (stiff arming) => farm hand.
37A: More rain and less light, e.g., to a pilot (worse conditions) => second hand.
51A: Some memorization in arithmetic class (times tables) => stable hand.
I had no problem with the theme clues, but I was disappointed that three of the four hand words referred to someone who works on a farm or ranch. I think secondhand is a superior (to the others) word, in that it can refer to something pre-owned...or, if you make it into two words, something on a watch or clock.
Harris, at Water and Waves, said he misspelled 1A: Gem units (carats), which means he must have had karats. Here's an easy way to remember. If the clue refers to gold, it's karats. Think of the 14K engraved on a piece of jewelry. If it refers to a gem, it's carats. Think of the 4 C's of diamonds...cut, color, clarity and carat weight.
From time to time, I visit Harris to check my solution. It's so much faster than going to the NYT website and entering in what I've already written out by hand. I will invariably type something wrong and then spend forever trying to find my mistake.
Whenever I see a 4-letter word clued, as "hen's place," I'm torn between entering nest and coop...and here it was again at 28A. I just skipped it. But when I got to 22D, there was the same clue, only for a 5-letter answer. I knew that was roost, which made 28A coop. Process of elimination works well when you're not timing yourself. If that happens at ACPT, and I'm sure it will, I will be SOL timewise.
There were several actor/singer/director clues in this one. 15A: Actor Holbrook (Hal), 16A: Turner of Hollywood, 23A: Director Bob who won a Tony, Oscar and Emmy all in the same year (Fosse), 57A: Director Kazan (Elia), 9D: Singer Fitzgerald (Ella), 11D: Harold who directed "Groundhog Day" (Ramis), and 55D: Actress Heche (Anne).
Also in the entertainment vein...25A: 1975 thriller that took a big bite at the box office (Jaws). I was living in south Florida at the time. We were all very afraid to go into the water.
Don't get 48D: Popular BBC import, for short (Ab Fab). Never heard of it, but I'm sure someone knows and will tell. And maybe I'll remember.
Hooray! I remembered 36D: Belgian river to the North Sea (Yser). Of course, I had several letters in place, but still...
38D: "Zounds!" made me laugh, as did the answer. Egads! But when was the last time you heard either of those words? Outside of a puzzle, that is.
46D: Radio word after "Roger" (wilco). If I'm not mistaken, that stands for will comply. Anyone?
Was very pleased with a gimme at 25A: Quester for the Golden Fleece (Jason). I don't recall seeing his name in a puzzle before, but we often see his ship, Argo.
31D: Many a person whose name starts Mac (Scot) threw me for a minute. I'd done a couple of puzzles in one of my many NYT books earlier in the day, and Scot had been an answer in one of them (clued as Robert Frost, for one...although I had poet initially). Anyway, I had it in my mind that Scot was in this puzzle twice, and I spent too much time trying to find the other occurrence...which wasn't there.
No Ava clues today. I can't remember the last time she was in a puzzle, although we've had a couple of her exes recently. I ordered the newest Ava biography, Love is Nothing, and am looking forward to reading it. I've also added several of her movies to my Netflix queue. Last night we watched Night of the Iguana...very disappointing. I have higher hopes for The Barefoot Contessa.
That's all for tonight. See you tomorrow.