This week's (and by that I mean "yesterday's" since I'm late getting to it) Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo is titled "Multiple Listing", which of course has nothing to do with real estate (although that would make a cool theme for a puzzle). No, it so turns out that the offering is a straight forward, no punniness or wackiness involved, project where the "multiples" to be listed by us in the grid are multiples of 10. It became apparent from the first couple of theme answers that the progression would go from ten to ninety as we move down the grid so filling them in became a pretty simple matter that produces these theme answers:
24a - TENGALLONHAT (Cowboy's toppers)
26a - TWENTYMULE (Like old teams that ferried borax)
38a - THIRTYYEARMORTGAGE (Long-term home loan option)
52a - NORTHDALLASFORTY (1979 Nick Nolte film)
71a - FEAROFFIFTY (1994 Erica Yong memoir)
90a - RUNNINGLIKESIXTY (Flying on foot)
98a - COMMITTEEOFSEVENTY (Philadelphia election-monitoring group)
117a-EIGHTYDAYS (Phileas Fogg's around-the-world time)
122a-NINETYDEGREES (Right angle feature)
So there you have it - matter-of-fact, literal answers that satisfy straight-forward, pretty easy clues with not a "?" in sight. Had I not seen right away what was going on I might have hesitated for a few seconds on a couple of answers - the "twenty-mule" teams are from Borax ads from a very long time ago and might have taken some time to remember, and I never heard of the "committee of seventy" so that could just as well have been any random number - but all-in-all solving the theme answers was a pretty simple matter, and that provides a lot of help with the rest of the grid (although not much help was needed there, either).
I had most of the puzzle filled in when I finished my first run through all of the clues, with only a few empty squares scattered here and there, and one giant hole in the southeast corner where a mash-up of celebrity names caused me some panic. Actress Cuthbert (103d - ELISHA), Singer Callas (110d - MARIA), Comedian Wanda (111d - SYKES), Spanish muralist José María (121d - SERT) and Satirist P. J. (127a - OROURKE) were all lurking in that area just waiting to trip me up and they nearly did, but the crosswords eventually sorted them out. The only other place that I had any major trouble was at the cross of Cartoon skunk FIFI La Fume (75d) and King in "The Lion King" MUFASA (86a). I really wanted the skunk to be Pepe (Le Pew, which is a different cartoon character altogether) and I thought the king was Makaka or Makasa, or something like that. In the end, I was left with a blank square and "F" seemed the only reasonable choice so I put it in with my fingers crossed, and of course it was the right choice.
Other miscellaneous thoughts:
- I frequent another (much better) crossword blog where a debate always erupts as to whether the correct name for the Cold Lipton offering (77a) is "ice tea" or, as we have in the puzzle today, "iced tea" - feel free to discuss among yourselves.
- "III, in modern Rome (93a - TRES) confused me for a while because I kept reading the clue as Ill, and I have no idea what the Italian word for "sick" might be. Finally the Roman Numeral became obvious and all was well.
- RARA avis (41a) is a phrase that I learned only from doing crosswords, and it has served me well to know it.
- "Having no depth, briefly" (101d) to produce TWOD (short for two dimensional) is constructors' trick that used to fool me a lot but I'm onto them now.
- We may call it "TIN foil" but I'm certain the "Foil material" (123d) used today is aluminum.
- "VEGging out" (104d - Really chill, with "out") is my specialty - in fact, I think that's what I'll go do (or not do, depending on your point of view) right now. Here's an example of what I like to listen to while I relax, as played by my new friend and favorite guitarist - enjoy!