Patrick Blindauer is one of my favorite constructors. He entertained us several times last year with a delightful puzzle-within-a-puzzle...including word searches and a chess game...and we have another one tonight.
Trouble is...it took me forever to understand it, and I'll bet there are some of you who still don't. (Hint: Say it out loud to someone else...that's how I figured it out.)
Hints appear as connected clues...20A: With 59-Across, hint to this puzzle's secret (clarinet/relative). When you follow the instructions at 41A: What to do after completing this puzzle, with four straight lines (connect all the O's), this is what you get.
Clear as mud? A clarinet relative is an oboe. Look at the picture above...there's an O-bow.
Go ahead and smack yourself...I did.
Favorite clues in the puzzle include 27A: Souvenir from a bad trip? (abrasion), 63A: Like some hands (idle), 70A: China company (Lenox), 1D: Half a dance (cha), 8D: Alternative if things go wrong (Plan B), 9D: Bread for burritos? (dinero), 26D: Some court attire (tennis shoes), 31D: Curtain puller of film (Toto) and 53D: Spanish skating figures (ochos).
A double-dose of two fabulous Broadway dancers...1A: Rivera of the original "Chicago" (Chita) and 56A: Gwen of the original "Chicago" (Verdon). When Chicago began its Broadway run in 1975, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger were just six years old. Who'd have thought they'd play Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart years later?
Things I learned from crosswords include 38A: River to the Rhone (Isere), 45A: Chief Whitehorse, e.g. (Otoe), 47A: Japanese leader of the 1960s (Sato), 64A: __ Gay (W.W. II plane) (Enola), 3D: New issue on Wall St. (IPO), 40D: City north of Cologne (Essen), 43D: Pope after John X (Leo VI), 52D: Animals (fauna) and 65D: With 32-Across, a ball game (one o'cat).
[54D: Cain vis-à-vis Abel] is one of those answers that could go one of two ways...older or elder. In this case, the cross made it easy to get. 52A: Promoted (fostered) meant an -ed ending, even if you didn't know the answer right away. That E meant that elder was the correct answer.
Noteworthy answers include 6A: "Dragnet" force, in brief (LAPD), 10A: Org. for which a D.V.M. might work (SPCA), 17A: Unending pain (agony), 19A: N.Y. neighbor (Conn.)...my birthplace, 24A: Honeymoon suite feature (hot tub), 35A: Chewy candy (Rolo), 44A: Children's author Blyton and others (Enids), 49A: "The Gift of the Magi" gift (fob)...one of my favorite stories, 69A: Cain of "Lois & Clark" (Dean), 5D: Sanctuary (asylum), 11D: Made a killing, say (profiteered), 13D: Former U.N. chief Kofi (Annan), 21D: Multiple-choice choices (A B or C), 24D: Actor Tom of "Amadeus" (Hulce) and 37D: Former Swedish P.M. Palme (Olof).
The long weekend is over...back to work tomorrow with all of the attendant year-end paperwork. I'll see you then.