With his most recent puzzle, Matt Ginsberg became one of my top three favorite constructors. With this one, he's moved up to the top two...right up there with Mike Nothnagel.
This was such an enjoyable solve...tough in several spots, but ultimately doable. It's the first Thursday I've finished in some time without resorting to Dogpile.
The theme was fun...contradicting meanings for the same word.
19A: Begin operating or stop operating (go off).
20A: Confirmation or uncertainty (reservation).
30A: Unchanged or novel (original).
38A: Words of praise or words of condemnation (nothing is better).
45A: Approve or penalize (sanction).
55A: Easy to see or impossible to see (transparent).
60A: Entangle or disentangle (ravel).
1D: Last under use or erode under use (wear)...my favorite.
13D: Remaining or gone (left).
52D: Add to or remove from (trim).
59D: Move gracefully or move clumsily (trip).
Fun...just plain fun. I particularly liked the longer nontheme answers:
5D: Grounds for legal action (gravamen). I can't believe that word came to me so easily after all these years.
8D: Revealing garment (minidress).
36D: "No nation is permitted to live in __ with impunity": Jefferson (ignorance). A president can, but not a nation.
40D: Gotham (Big Apple). I wonder if that took anyone else as long to see...I had most of the letters in place, but I was looking for a single word.
Other things I struggled with:
37A: Discussion spots (fora)...putting an S at the end really fouled up 33D: Shenanigans (larks).
42A: TV's Kojak (Theo). I didn't even know he had a first name.
48A: Willie Mays and teammates (Giants). I should have known that...but I needed several letters before I could coax it out of the recesses of my brain.
64A: Comedic title role for Renée Zellweger, 2000 (Irene). I don't think I saw that. While she's a favorite, I can only take Jim Carrey in small doses.
68A: Olaf's girlfriend in Lemony Snicket books (Esme). Neither of the girls were interested in the books...maybe they were too old for them. Anyway, I needed crosses to get her name...her beautiful name.
2D: "Hurlyburly" playwright David (Rabe). Not familiar with either the play or the man.
41D: Dr. __ Hahn of "Grey's Anatomy" (Erica). I haven't seen the show...and sexistly assumed I was looking for the name of a man.
46D: Twinings competitor (Tetley). All I have in my pantry is Celestial Seasonings...which was no help. 50A: Deborah nominated for six Academy Awards (Kerr) gave me the E as the second letter, but I had to go through the alphabet to come up with the answer.
16A: Dodger All-Star pitcher Eric (Gagne)...don't know him, but I like the name.
35A: Repeated setting for Georges Seurat paintings (Seine)...good guess.
43A: Respectful refusal (no sir).
4D: "Great" czar (Peter I). I knew we were looking at a Roman numeral for the ending because of 27A: Belief in a life of harmony with nature (taoism).
6D: Gary Burghoff role of TV and film (Radar).
9D: It might be spiked (eggnog).
10D: Jiang's husband (Mao).
28D: Welcome to paradise? (aloha). It's probably time for another Hawaii picture. I'll see what I can find in the next couple of days.
31D: Away from the office (not in)...followed by the equally amusing 32D: Don't exist (aren't).
51D: "O, sing to the Lord a new song," for one (Psalm).
53D: Fabled slacker (hare).
I don't remember the last time I finished a post this early...I may even be in bed by 10:00 tonight. I could sure use some beauty sleep.
The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) is just a couple of days away. I'm really pulling for two former contestants this year...Al Sanders (a Colorado neighbor whose time has come) and fellow blogger Orange...who placed fifth (or thereabouts) a couple of years ago. I'll be with them in spirit...but I'll be here at Madness holding down the blogging fort. JimH will also be there, so I won't be able to challenge him to find crossword stats for a few days.
That's it for tonight. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.