If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I like to see circles in the grid...so John Farmer's Wednesday puzzle delighted me from the get-go.
I came up with a blank on the first theme answer, but I nailed the second one...23A: Have as a focus of one's studies (MAJOR IN). The circled letters, M-O-N, sure looked like a day of the week to me. When I saw that there were seven rows, I took the plunge and entered the three-letter abbreviations for all of them, beginning with S-U-N.
It was confirmed at 71A: What each set of circled letters spells (day). The remaining day-of-the-week answers are:
18A: Blindly (SIGHT UNSEEN).
32A: Weekly founded by Walter Annenberg (TV GUIDE).
36A: Club choice (WHOLE WHEAT BREAD). The most clever clue in the puzzle.
45A: People of Burundi (THE HUTU). I was temporarily thrown off by having the article included...good one.
55A: Import with a "cavallino rampante" logo (FERRARI). I had no clue about this, but with the F-R-I in place, it was a guess that made a lot of sense.
59A: Expose, with "on" (SHINE A LIGHT).
This wasn't an easy puzzle...by any stretch of the imagination. Even with all of those letters in place, I struggled with several answers. There were quite a few unknowns to me, often crossing another unknown. All of that made for a long, slow solve. Some of them:
22A: Filmmaker Gus Van (Sant)...although that's what I guessed when I had the SA in place. The cross at 19D: Runnin' Rebels of the N.C.A.A. was no help. I'm guessing that UNLV stands for University of Nevada at Las Vegas...or something like that.
43A: Neighbor on the 1980s sitcom "Mama's Family" (Iola). Never heard of the show...or Iola. I wanted Iona...only because I didn't follow the clue for 38D: Sub in a tub (oleo). That was almost too clever for me.
70A: Boston five (Celts). I was going to cry foul on account of two obscure sports clues...but Don assures me that both Celts (as clued) and UNLV are quite well known. Hmmph!
3D: Actress Rebecca of "Ugly Betty" (Romijn). I had all of the crosses, but I was sure that answer was wrong. Even when the Applet accepted my solution, I thought there must be some mistake. But I'm mistaken...that's her name. If only I had time to watch television...maybe a few college or professional games. I'd probably do better with crossword puzzles. But when would I have time to solve them and blog?
9D: "In America" novelist Susan (Sontag). Should have been easy enough to get from crosses, but I didn't get 32A (TV Guide) right away...had THE as the first three letters, so Sontag wasn't apparent for some time.
27D: Naturalist who appears on the California quarter (Muir). I had the UIR, but wasn't sure about 26A: Place for steamers (clam bar). Guessed the M, though, and clam bar soon fell into place.
Needed the crosses to get both 47D: Trillion: Prefix (tera) and 48D: Language family that includes Finnish and Hungarian (Uralic).
And I'm not a Harry Potter fan...so I relied on crosses for 52D: Sister of Albus Dumbledore, in the Harry Potter books (Ariana). I did, however, know 53D: Actress Laura (Linney), as well as 39D: Bert who sang "If I Only Had the Nerve" (Lahr).
Some of my favorite answers:
9A: Paintball sound (splat). That's too good.
31A: Feeling (sensate). Sensates...nothing more than sensates...
44A: Footprint or loose thread, perhaps (clue).
1D: Challenges for daredevil motorcyclists (chasms).
2D: Blood lines (aortae)...I like the clue, and there's something about that plural that I like.
4D: Ignominy (disgrace). Took forever to remember what ignominy meant. That's a disgrace.
8D: Unbroken (intact)...what my pride is not after this puzzle.
42D: Gets engaged to, old-style (betroths). A good old-fashioned word.
46D: Milk dispensers (udders)...
In addition to theme answers, I also liked the multiwords at 15A: "You know...it's...um...like this..." (I mean), 35A: "Would __ to You?" (1985 Eurythmics hit) (I lie), 49A: All accounted for (in total) and 54A: Customized (to order)...love how it looks in the grid.
I wonder if anyone else was confused by 40D: A first for Arabia? (Alif). Here's the answer to the mystery...I thought it must be something like that.
I had a massage after work, and I've been a mass of jello since then. Mary Anne is the best...she's been doing my massages for more than eight years...but she's moving to Boise in another two months. My body already misses her.
Time to wrap this up and head to bed. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.