If you take a look at the sidebar...over there, to the right...you'll see the names of some of the wonderful readers who have agreed to guest blog while Don and I are relaxing on the beaches of Kauai. There are still two others who have yet to sign on, but I'd like to thank each of them. Howard (who comments as Howard B) will be covering the three Friday puzzles, Robert (Green Genius) will do the Saturdays and Sundays, except for Sunday 9/23. Dave (who comments as evad) will do that one, in addition to the two Thursday puzzles. Rick (Cornbread Hell) will cover the Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles. Wendy, who I think may be making her blogging debut, will cover the Monday puzzles, and I'm extremely grateful for a feminine presence. Keep the guys in line, Wendy, especially...well, he knows who he is. (Just kidding. I love you all.)
Today has been only slightly better than yesterday. Again, that will be my excuse for not understanding the theme. I know I'll be embarrassed when I read it elsewhere...or when a reader points it out to me.
The theme is revealed (to some, anyway) at 52A: Sprint to the tape...and a hint to this puzzle's theme (finish strong). Okay, would someone please tell me how the theme answers all relate?
20A: Smash (box office hit). I get the reference to hit, but does that make one strong?
29A: Athlete seated at a table, maybe (arm wrestler). A wrestler is strong, but there's probably more to it than that. By the way, before I tore my bicep, I was quite the arm wrestler, considering my small stature. I used to beat some of the (younger, rather wimpy) guys at the shelter.
35A: Advice to a Harley passenger (hold on tight). This was actually a gimme, although I don't see the connection.
42A: Fits perfectly (suits to a tee). Maybe this isn't even a theme answer, but it's in the right place for one.
I feel stupid enough already. When someone explains it, I think I'll just crawl into a hole somewhere.
On to what I really liked. The clever clues at 28A: Head of state? (ess), 2D: They spread fast (rumors) and 55D: Poll closing? (ster).
Also the vertical stacks in the northwest which join rumors. 1D: Tarzan portrayer (Crabbe)...he was even before my time, 3D: Joan's "Dynasty" role (Alexis)...I'm mildly embarrassed to say that I loved the show, and 4D: Salami variety (Genoa). I used to love Genoa salami sandwiches on buttered white bread. I can't even imagine eating it now...all those blobs of fat.
8D: Going from A to B, say (linear), 10D: Suffered from an allergy, maybe (felt itchy)...bet that hasn't ever been in a puzzle, 33D: Enriches with vitamins (fortifies), 47D: Cause of weird weather (El Niño), and 48D: Young swan (cygnet)...I learned that at a baby shower years ago. We had to name the young of about 50 different birds and animals.
Check out the number of sports-related clues, all of which I got: 49A: Soccer forward (striker), 59A: Like any of seven Nolan Ryan games (no hit), 44D: Court action (tennis), and 45D: A.L. East player (Oriole). Not too shabby.
I didn't know 41A: County near Tyrone (Derry) but guessed it once I had the D and the last R in place. Also didn't know 53D: Weapon in a rumble (shiv). And would someone tell me why 27D: Good sign for an angel is SRO?
I Like Ike is back, clued as a two-part answer...at 57-Down and 62-Across.
I just noticed the number of Scrabbly letters in this. Z, X, K, J, F, V. Nicely done.
There were entertainment clues for everyone. In addition to Crabbe and Alexis, we have 33A: "Shrek" princess (Fiona), 34A: "It's Impossible" crooner (Como), 32D: Fish in a John Cleese film (Wanda), and 35D: "Aquarius" musical (Hair). I saw it in West Palm Beach a hundred years ago. I think it was the first time I ever saw a naked man...well, several of them. I still can't believe my mother let me go. Or maybe I didn't tell her.
Time to say good night. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.