I've often said that I enjoy punny puzzles, so when I saw the title to today's Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo, 'Can't You See I'm Dizzy?!', I knew I was going to be in for a treat. I've done enough of Frank's puzzles by now to see right away that the title was a twist on the phrase, "Can't you see I'm busy?" and I figured, correctly as it turns out, that the grid was going to contain recognizable phrases with a letter substitution to make them wacky. When the dust settled and the groaning stopped the theme answers looked like this:
23a - DAZZLERATHBONE (Amaze a Sherlock Holmes portrayer?) (Basil Rathbone)
28a - YEAROFDEARTH (12-month famine?) (Year of Birth)
35a - JAMESDONNED (Singer Brown got dressed) (James Bond)
53a - DECIDETHEPOINT (Determine which team scored?) (Beside the point)
66a - ITSFORTHEDEBTOR (Fact about a consolidation loan?) (It's for the better)
85a - FIREINONESDELI (Sub-shop blaze?) (Fire in one's belly)
98a - CUPIDSDOUGH (Moolah earned by a love god?) (Cupid's Bow)
105a-DURBINSTREET (Road named after singer Deanna?) (Bourbon Street)
116a-DARNEMANDDAILY (What to do to socks that tear every 24 hours?) (Barnum and Bailey)
Some of the puns are a bit of a stretch but kudos to the constructor for coming up with nine phrases that work in the grid and clues that are just literal enough to suggest the answers. Of course some worked better than others and one was just plain tortured but when puns are involved that's what you get. Clearly Frank took out all the stops to create the last one, which has a double substitution of Ds for Bs and has an unexpected contraction - "Darn 'em, and daily" is certainly a literal response to the clue but parsing the phrase correctly was difficult (but worth it).
As to the non-theme fill, there were a few places where I had to guess at the most likely letters because both crosswords were unfamiliar to me. "If I had a __" (Lyle Lovett son) (11d - ABOAT)meeting up with Shire of film (33a - TALIA) doubled down on my profound ignorance of most pop-culture related names, but the T was inferable so fair enough, I guess. That area was further complicated by American avant-garde artist (12d - MANRAY) also penetrating TALIA which required more of a guess as the vowel in question could reasonable have been something other that A. I guess you could say that I got lucky with TALIA. "Picnic" dramatist William (107d - INGE) cast some doubt on the theme answer he crossed as singer Deanna could spell her name with just about any vowel and still have it rhyme with "bourbon", but again the "I" seemed the most likely fit in both names.
After I had gone through all of the clues and filled in everything I knew (or had a good guess at) I was left with one blank square. I have never heard of the phrase HORNMAD (65d - Very Irate) and "Pittsburgh's Carnegie __ University (81a - MELLON) was also and unknown, but upon further reflection the "N" seemed safe so I crossed my fingers and put it in. Post-solve google of "horn-mad" reveals it's clue to be dead-on accurate. If, on the other hand, you try it without the hyphen you land here. Take your pick for which usage Frank had in mind.
In a bit of Old Testament juxtaposition, we have Son of Isaac JACOB (35d) symmetrically opposite his grandmother, Mother of Isaac SARAH (78d) - that cannot be an accident. If I understand my Biblical history correctly, they both no doubt spoke HEBREW (1a - Bar mitzvah language). Now that I think about it, "Antediluvian" (13d- AGEOLD) refers to the flood described in Genesis, so we have yet another reference to the Bible. I think that concludes the Sunday school lesson for today and Noah's Ark gets us nicely back to "If I had a Boat":
(If you expecting Lyle Lovett you'll have to find him yourself - I like this song better.)