We didn't have much of a date night. This tax season has really taken a toll on my sweetie, and this bug has wiped me out. Don ended up sitting in the big chair with Dooley and Barnabas while I alternated between napping and solving Brad Wilber's Saturday puzzle.
I'm always amazed when constructors can pull off a puzzle with long stacks in every corner. I would be even more amazed if I had been able to solve this without the help of Dogpile...alas, it was not to be.
The northwest stacks:
1A: Big flap on the road? (splashguard). I don't know about the rest of you, but I didn't have a clue where that one was heading.
15A: Song sung by Mehitabel in Broadway's "Shinbone Alley" (Toujours Gai). This had to be one of Brad's first entries in the puzzle...you don't just fit that into a grid. I tried to find a picture of Eartha Kitt as Mehitabel...this will have to do. According to Wikipedia, "Shinbone Alley preceded Cats by a couple of decades but definitely was a precursor of the far more successful Andrew Lloyd Webber hit."
17A: Traitorous (unpatriotic). That was the only one in the stack that I got easily.
In the northeast:
12D: Dangerous swimmer with an oarlike tail (sea snake). I'm generally not afraid of snakes, but this gave me the creeps. I wanted to see (and show you) what the tail looked like. If you're squeamish about snakes, don't click to enlarge it.
13D: Bathtub rings, e.g. (residues). With almost all of the letters in place, it still took forever to see that. I blame it on the stuffy head.
14D: Deep-sixes (scuttles). I don't get this...I only know scuttle as a basket.
The southwest stacks:
35D: Early-birds' opposites (lie-abeds). Here's a sure sign that Elaine is maturing...on the weekends, she's up by 10:00. Athough that's not an early-bird, it's all relative...she used to sleep until midafternoon.
36D: Ride roughshod over (ill treat).
37D: "Born to Be Blue" singer (Mel Torme). His name always reminds me of one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite sitcoms. Harry (Judge Stone from "Night Court") just loved Mel Torme.
And, finally, the southeast stacks:
61A: Dedicatee of "The Muppet Movie" (Edgar Bergen). I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought that would be Jim Henson...except that it wouldn't fit. The girls were already grown by then, so I didn't see the movie. According to this article, Edgar Bergen (with Charlie McCarthy) had a cameo role in the movie but died shortly after the scene was filmed.
65A: Dish with coddled egg (Caesar salad). I had the AD from crosses so was able to guess salad...beyond that I was clueless. I remember that anchovies are used in an authentic Caesar salad, but I forgot about the coddled egg.
67A: Order of ants (hymenoptera). This is probably my favorite word in the puzzle. I didn't get it right initially...had lepidoptera, but that's the order of butterflies and moths.
This puzzle was truly Dantean (27A: Bizarrely hellish), but I mean that in the most admirable sense of the word.
There were two more excellent long answers. 10D: Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould (rail barons)...had rail for the longest time and couldn't figure out how to end it...and 29D: Mardi Gras, in the U.K. (Pancake Day).
I always like to see identical clues in the puzzle, especially when the answers are so totally unrelated. [Ready to be driven] appears at 26A (teed up) and again at 49D (in gear). The latter was a gimme...the former took a letter or two.
Connected cluing at 55A: With 59-Across, it lasted from about 3500 to 1000 B.C. (Bronze / Age). Age was a gimme (duh) but it took a couple of letters to figure out which one we were talking about. I'm better with geological time periods.
Other favorites include 2D: Soft, thin silk cloth (pongee), 3D: 2006 Tony-nominated "Sweeney Todd" actress (Lupone), 4D: 1977 Steely Dan title track (Aja)...if you can't remember any other Steely Dan song, remember this one for crossword purposes, 24A: Rijksmuseum subject (Rembrandt), 5D: They're often fried (sots)...so many ways to clue that oft-appearing word, 7D: Member of the 1960s Rams' Fearsome Foursome (Grier)...the guy who went on to star in "Little House on the Prairie" (Merle somebody) was another one, 8D: Sports biggies (US Opens), 43D: Home to some fighters (air base), 52D: Language in which "k" and "v" are the words for "to" and "in" (Czech) and 53D: Kitchen gripper (Saran).
Other crosswordese to reappear...44A: Identification aid in an obituary (nee), 60A: Slogan ending (eer), 66A: __-Mère-Église (D-Day Town) (Ste)...although it didn't indicate an abbreviation. 56A: Defeater of Schmeling in 1933 (Baer) appears often, although I don't recall ever seeing him clued that way. If it's four letters and a fighter, that's what I enter.
Before I figured out 47A: The Danube flows through it (Serbia)...doesn't it flow just about everywhere?...I thought that 48D: Charles Darwin's ship H.M.S. __ would begin with SEA. Turns out it was Beagle...not to be confused with Snoopy.
The only truly foreign word to me was 35A: Sketching (limning). I just looked it up so it isn't wrong...it only looks wrong.
Another no-drive day. A tank of gas seems to last a whole lot longer when I don't drive all over creation on Saturday. I stayed home the last two days, although I had to drive two miles to the doctor on Thursday, but I'll end up with several no-drive days this week. I hope to regain my strength and the rest of my voice so I can get back to the real world on Monday.
That's it for today. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.