After a harrowing week, Friday date night was spent quietly at home. I brought home a take-and-bake pizza (spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers and mushrooms), and we watched "The Pursuit of Happyness." Will Smith is one of my favorite actors, and I was delighted to see his real-life son, Jaden...the cutest little guy...play his son in the movie.
I started solving the puzzle at 10:30, and I struggled to stay awake. I ended up getting a few answers from Dogpile in order to get a toehold, then plodded through it...dozing at my desk a couple of times.
This was a tough one. I don't recognize the constructor's name, but I found a Shannon Burns who's a Canadian Scrabble champion. Here's some information on him...my guess is that they're one and the same.
I had a whopping three answers after my first run through the clues...26A: Asian bowlful (Ramen), 7D: Fence-sitter's answer (maybe) and 60D: "The Gift of the Magi" hero (Jim)...along with an S here and there, maybe an -ER or -ED.
With the B from maybe, only two cities came to mind for 20A: Home of Clarke College. Lubbock...or the correct Dubuque, verified through Dogpile. That Q led to 8D: Post codes? (etiquette)...a very clever clue that I didn't catch on my first read.
From there I just started guessing. Some things panned out, some didn't.
One that did was 16A: Late afternoon, typically (tea time). This made me think of high tea at The Empress in Vancouver...one of the most enjoyable experiences in our travels. There's a nice tie-in with 47A: It covers six time zones (Canada) and 34A: Home of Waterloo: Abbr. (Ont.). This doesn't quite confirm my guess about the constructor, but it does lend a bit of credence.
The second part of my strategy was to get a couple of outside answers...some may call it cheating, but I consider it part of the learning experience. That got me a few more:
19A: Former major-league pitcher __ Seo (Jae).
40A: French mathematician Cartan (Elie). I guess "__Wiesel" would have been more appropriate for an early week clue...but I know that one.
59A: Where Mt. Suribachi is (Iwo Jima). I'm embarrased to say that I never stopped to think that this famous picture was taken on a mountain. With the J in place (from one of my gimmes), I thought of Iwo Jima, but was sure it wouldn't be right. Nice surprise.
1A: It can really bite (sarcasm). So does love, according to Def Leppard. I love this song.
28A: Hot spots (saunas).
48A: Asked too much? (pried).
37D: Kingston pop (ska).
42D: The moon has one (far side). I wanted to make Dark Side fit...a la Pink Floyd. It also brought to mind one of my favorite Far Side cartoons. Thanks, Donald, for letting me know that you weren't able to enlarge my photos. Dogpile didn't give me the option I needed, so I'll have to search for images in Google.
45D: Zip providers (spices).
58D: State with the lowest high point (345 feet): Abbr. (Fla.). I grew up in south Florida, but I had to think twice about that one. Before we moved here, we lived in Silver Plume, Colorado...elevation 9,118 feet. Now we're at 4,592...and it seems low altitude.
Favorite answers in the grid...none of which I recall seeing often.
15A: See 33-Down (aquaria)...connecting with the lovely saltwater.
17A: Nothingness (nullity).
35A: Growing problem? (gigantism).
41A: Grain sorghum with stout, leafy stalks (kafir).
45A: Mush (schmaltz).
61A: Middle third of a famous motto (Égalité). From Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. I didn't have a clue, but you can read about it here.
1D: Latin American capital (San Jose).
2D: Founding member of the Justice League (Aquaman). I wasn't a big comics fan, but I did love cartoons when I was a kid. I was happy to see one of my favorites at 27D: Hanna-Barbera character (Atom Ant).
10D: Some prayers (paters)...although it looks like a combination of potatoes and taters, which makes me hungry this morning.
21D: Built up (urbanized). I would never have gotten that without a lot of crosses...the Z cinched it.
24D: __ wonder (athlete known for a single great play) (one game). I could name several one hit musical wonders...but not a single one game wonder. You're probably not surprised.
38D: Pinchpenny (Scrooge).
39D: Classic 1934 novel set in Prohibition-era New York City, with "The" (Thin Man)...famous in crossword puzzles, although more so for stars in the film version.
47D: Yarn variety (crewel). This stumped me something fierce. I think of crewel as a type of needlework, rather than the yarn itself.
55D: "Paradise Lost" illustrator (Dore).
I've been looking forward to my no-driving day all week. I'll bake a couple loaves of bread and make a pot of soup, but I have no plans beyond that. Maybe I'll make a red velvet cake for Valentine's Day...just pop it in the freezer to frost later in the week.
Hope your day is a good one. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.