And only four 3-letter words in the grid!
Mama Mia, that's a spicy puzzle!
I was pretty excited to get 1A: Faux pa? (stepfather) right off the bat. As it turns out, there were very few other gimmes in this one. The others were:
42A: __-Meal (vacuum food storage system) (Seal-a). I'm surprised to see that much detail in a Saturday clue, though.
11D: Italian for "sleeves" (manicotti). Growing up in an Italian household was good for many things, including knowing how to make the best spaghetti sauce, meatballs, lasagne and manicotti.
36D: Dessert Calvin doesn't like in "Calvin and Hobbes" (tapioca). At lunch recess one day, Calvin announces that he has "a thermos full of phlegm." Calvin and Hobbes is my all-time favorite cartoon strip. I'm sure that if I had a son, he would be Calvin...thank you, God.
Some things I absolutely did not know:
16A: Not yours, in Tours (à moi). I need to learn some French basics.
30A: "Moesha" actress Wilson and others (Yvettes). The only Yvette I know is Yvette Mimieux, who played a surfer with epilepsy in an episode of Dr. Kildare. That was more than 40 years ago...why do I remember that but I can't remember why I went into the kitchen?
7D: Special-__ (football players used only in specific situations) (teamers).
8D: French novelist d'Urfé (Honoré).
25D: Abalone (sea ear). That just looked too strange when I had *EAEA*
Good guesses that panned out:
32A: Jump provider: Abbr. (AAA). I had to call AAA a couple of weeks ago when my car wouldn't start. I placed the call at 4:15...they said they'd be there at 6:30. I hope my membership will be more valuable another time.
1D: Stir-fry vegetable (snap pea). Although I first had spinach, then snow pea.
41D: Weave a raised design into (brocade). I know it more as a noun than as a verb, but it works. Having the B in place helped me get 38A: Something often looked for on a rainy day (taxi cab)...which helped me get 23D: Scaling aid (ice axe). I just love how that works.
They stumped me on 15A: Helpful figures? (nine one one). Until I had several of the downs (which, by the way, is how I tackled this puzzle after the gimmes), I was clueless about this.
Because I had stepfather, I had the A in place to help me with 6D: He's a doll (Andy). My grandmother sent a Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy for my sister and me...my sister wanted Anne, but I was quite happy to have Andy. I don't know where he is now...
Clever clue award goes to 18A: One given a staff position? (note). I didn't really get that answer. I saw it after I'd filled in all of the downs. But it was clever. Tonight I played a few notes on my piano. I hadn't touched it in almost six weeks. My bad.
And there's the completed grid. It doesn't look so great, but at least the solution isn't spoiled for those who aren't ready to see it.
The weekend's here. Enjoy it.