This week's Premier Crossword titled "Singer on the Circuit" brings us a classic Frank Longo punny riddle to be solved by completing the grid using the non-theme clues to produce the riddle and its answer. The clues for the theme answers offer little to work with so you pretty much need to know all of the crossing words to produce the long answers:
23a Start of a riddle - IF A RENOWNED
32a Riddle, part 2 - ROCK AND ROLL CROONER
43a Riddle, part 3 - HAD BEEN A TRAVELER IN A
68a Riddle, part 4 - SPACE CRAFT REVOLVING
94a Riddle, part 5 - AROUND THE EARTH'S STAR
103a End of the riddle - WHAT COULD HIS NAME BE?
(wait for it...)
119a Riddle's answer - ROY ORBITSUN! (Loud extended groan here)
There's really not much for me to add, except to say there are probably some solvers out there who have never heard of Roy Orbison, the "rock and roll crooner" whose name provides the basis for the pun - if you don't know Roy the Boy the audacity of the puzzle is lost on you, and that's a shame. Here he is singing "Pretty Woman" on American Bandstand in 1966 (you remember that, don't you?):
So, back to the puzzle. There were lots of nice little touches sprinkled around the grid that made me smile, like Elvis ARON Presley showing up in the center of things (64d) to say "hello" to his old buddy, Roy, and ANITA Baker stopped by, too (125a) . EGGO (128a Kellogg's waffle brand) crossing NOG (117d Holiday drink) seemed serendipitous, and having two words clued as Recede (97d and 109d), SUBSIDE and EBB, adjacent to one another could not have been accidental. And when Frank invokes his old pal Livy (Titus Livius Patavinus (59 BC – AD 17)—known as Livy in English—was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, courtesy of Wikipedia) in a clue you can bet the answer is going to be a Latin word or, as in today's puzzle, a Roman numeral (41a Number of cards in Livy's deck? LII) (Presumably ancient Romans played with the same deck of cards in use today - who knew?)
I don't go to the movies much (although I did just see "Lincoln" - if you haven't, please do; it's excellent and so relevant to politics today!) so I always have trouble with the names of actors and directors and today was no exception. I needed all of the crosses to produce 37a "The Core" director Jon AMIEL and 105d Jack OAKIE of "The Great Dictator". I don't watch much TV, either, so I needed a lot of help on ALIENNATION (16d 1989-90 futuristic cop show on Fox) and LIETOME (35d 2009-11 crime drama on Fox). (I wonder if Fox pays product placement fees for mentions like that?) I used to watch TV though, so I knew old timers 74a CARL Reiner of film, and Jack SOO of "Barney Miller" (78d).
And lest you thought I missed it, Frank gives us two bonus singers on the circuit performing their music at 45a "Girlfriend" boy band NSYNC, and 12a "OUR Lips Are Sealed" by the Go-Go's. Here they are:
I'll end on a sad note, as I am reminded by 44a EPPIE Lederer, a.k.a. Ann Landers, that her twin sister Dear Abby passed away earlier this week. My first girlfriend wrote to Dear Abby about me and the reply suggested that she "find somebody more interested - and more interesting"! So she did.