This is one of those rare puzzles where the theme is in the clues - not the fills, which are unrelated two-word common language phrases; brought to us by our own dear hostess, C. C. and Corner denizen Husker Gary. C. C. and I worked a similar idea in a Sunday puzzle a couple years ago. And by some weird cosmic coincidence, Gary blogged the puzzle that day, in quite spectacular fashion.
Today our theme clues are words familiar to football fans - and I'm pretty sure Gary is one. C. C. is more into baseball. Let's we what we have here.
18 A. BLOCK: CITY SQUARE. Most cities have streets laid out in a rectilinear pattern. A BLOCK is the area defined by four streets. More specifically, a CITY [or town] SQUARE is an open public space near the heart of the town, used for community gatherings. Here's a trombone's eye view from the bandstand at Kellogg Park, the town square in Plymouth, MI.
My peeps are out there somewhere
To BLOCK in football is to move a defensive player aside so a ball carrier can advance down the field.
23 A. CATCH: HIDDEN SNAG. I'm imagining an underwater obstruction that a small boat could get hung up on. Figuratively, it could be any unanticipated difficulty, perhaps as a result of poor planning. In football, a CATCH is a reception of a PASS [vide infra], viz. a ball thrown to an eligible receiver to advance the team's position on the playing field.
37 A. KICK: CHAMPAGNE EFFECT. Well, that depends on who you ask.
In football, there are three kinds of KICKS. The KICK OFF happens at the beginning of each half, and after one team scores, to deliver the ball to their foe. The extra point is a KICK after a touch down is scored. Success, attained by sending the ball through the uprights, is called a conversion, good for one point. The field goal is a similar kind of KICK, attempted when the offense stalls somewhere on the field. If successful it nets 3 points.
49 A. PASS: FREE TICKET. A no-charge permit that authorizes entry and access to a venue or event. In football, a PASS is ball launched by hand to an intended receiver [vide supra.]
58A. RUN: HOSE MISHAP. A tear or hole in sheer silk or nylon stockings. A disaster.
In football, a RUN is an attempt to advance the ball by carrying it around or through the defenders. Of course, a RUN is a score in baseball, as well.
Hi gang, JazzBumpa here to coach this game. The theme cluing is pretty straight-forward, and the fills are sparkly in this thematically rich puzzle. And we have some extra bits of elegance. Each theme clue can be functionally either an action verb, or the name of the action that is so indicated. And there is a nice element of symmetry. The first and last Theme entries are a complimentary pair, as are the second and fourth. That must have taken some extra effort. And the central theme entry is a grid spanner. So from my view on the side-line, this is a win. Yay, team!
1. Tot's drink, to the tot: WAWA. Water, when you are just figuring out how to form syllables. Fun times. Also a chain of convenience stores and gas stations located in the eastern U.S. None in our area, but we always fill the tank and grab coffee and donuts when we leave step-son Tom's for the long drive home.
5. Side-by-side truck tires: DUALS. They provide more even weight distribution, and thus greater safety and stability
10. Fifth Avenue landmark: SAKS. An American luxury department store owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, the oldest commercial corporation in North America.
14. Help with a heist: ABET. Provide assistance to a crime or other offense.
15. Play direction: ENTER. Tells the actor to go onto the stage.
16. Lint collector: TRAP. Belly button doesn't fit.
17. Sci-fi princess with a twin brother: LEIA. Stars Wars, of course. The brother is Luke Skywalker.
20. Abs exercise: LEG RAISE. Get a leg up with proper form.
22. Take out of the packaging: UNBOX. Open it up.
26. Picnic crasher: ANT. Six-legged interloper.
28. Harrison of "My Fair Lady": REX.
29. Help: AID. Assistance.
30. Tiny Lab, e.g.: PUP. Young dog.
33. "But seriously folks ... " is one: SEGUE. In music, a move from one song to the next without interruption. Here, a little more loosely, a transition in a monologue.
35. Forest ranger?: ELK. Per Wikipedia, these large members of the deer family "range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark." So - yep.
36. Selfish shout: MINE. I get to use this again.
41. "What __!": "I've been had!": A RIP. As in RIP off - a fraud or swindle, often based on something being over-priced
42. Little chap: LAD. A boy. From Middle English, of unknown origin. The word was much more popular a century ago, but has had a recent resurgence.
43. Big dipper: LADLE. Kitchen utensil, not something written in the stars.
44. Many a dad joke: PUN. Strained puns that are anodyne and therefore OK to tell in mixed, but non-critical company.
Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.
What do you call a fake noodle? An Impasta.
Want to hear a joke about paper? Nevermind it's tearable.
I just watched a program about beavers. It was the best dam program I've ever seen.
Why did the coffee file a police report? It got mugged.
How does a penguin build it's house? Igloos it together.
You get the picture.
46. MADD message, e.g.: PSA. A Public Service Announcement from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
48. __ Lingus: AER. The flag carrier air line of Ireland, now owned by IAG, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia.
52. Legend automaker: ACURA. The luxury vehicle arm of Honda.
55. Alternative medicine staple: ALOE VERA. Extract from the eponymous evergreen perennial succulent.
61. Its oxide makes Mars red: IRON. Rust, an IRON-oxygen compound.
62. Retired tennis pro Kournikova: ANNA. She was born in 1981 and retired from competitive play at age 21 due to spinal problems.
63. Bartlett entry: QUOTE. An American reference book, first published in 1855, now in its 18th edition.
64. Gunk: CRUD. An unpleasantly dirty and messy substance.
65. Woodpecker's tool: BEAK. Used for digging under the bark of trees to get insects, and for communication by drumming on hard surfaces.
66. Go over the limit: SPEED. Driving in excess of the posted limit, which nobody does, ever.
67. Ball elevators: TEES. In golf, the first stroke on any hole is hit with the ball slightly elevated from the ground on a wooden peg, called a TEE. After that, one must play it where it lies.
1. Outlet site: WALL. A srtucture designed to keep a door upright.
2. Busy as __: A BEE. Oh, honey . . .
3. Reason to purchase a new belt: WEIGHT GAIN. I don't want to talk about it.
4. Pong maker: ATARI. Speaking of back in the day. You can tell your grandchildren that this was once a ground-breaking new video game.
6. Like the name Pat: UNISEX. Non-gender-specific. My sister's full name is Patricia, which removes all doubt. But her initials spelt the short form of her name.
7. When some local news airs: AT TEN. In the evening.
8. Emmy-winning ESPN reporter Bob: LEY. The network's longest tenured on-air employee.
9. Soon-to-be alumni: Abbr.: SRS. Senior class members, hoping to graduate.
10. Smarted: STUNG. If it hurt, how smart could it be?
11. Riyadh resident: ARAB. Riyadh is the capital and most populous city of Saudi Arabia.
12. Pecan pie syrup: KARO. A sweetener made from corn starch, containing varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides [sugar polymers of 3 to 10 units.] High fructose corn syrup is made by further processing that converts much of its glucose into fructose, which tastes sweeter.
13. Glasses, informally: SPEX. Or SPECS, short for spectacles. Speaking of dad jokes - did you hear about the optometrist who fell into the lens grinding machine? He made a spectacle of himself.
19. College courtyard: QUAD. A square or rectangular space, mainly, or partly enclosed on all four sides by buildings. Like a CITY SQUARE, but different.
21. Campaign pro?: AD REP. A person responsible for an advertising effort intended to sell a product or service, not one involved in a political or military campaign.
24. Counter offer?: SALE. Things are offered for SALE on or behind the counter of a store. Clever mis-direction.
25. Goddess of victory: NIKE. Her Roman equivalent is Victoria.
26. Music rights gp.: ASCAP. American Society of Composers, Authors and
27. '60s jacket style: NEHRU. A hip length tailored coat with mandarine collar.
30. Apartment used for overnight trips to the city: PIED A TERRE. Literally, foot to the ground, going back to 18th century France, used to indicate any temporary lodging. Now meaning a secondary residence [but not a vacation home] that is used occasionally during part of the year or part of the work week.
31. "I give up!": UNCLE. North American usage, origin unknown.
32. Saint at a gate: PETER. An image in popular culture indicating St. Peter as the gate keeper of heaven.
34. Official behind a catcher: UMP. Baseball umpire.
36. Juilliard deg.: MFA. Master of Fine Arts.
38. Away from the wind: ALEE. Nautical term, gong back to Middle English.
39. Beaufort scale word: GALE. A measure of wind speed.
40. Cereal bit: FLAKE. Grains are crushed, ground, and then cooked for several hours, possibly with added vitamins and flavorings. The resulting slurry is then pressed between rollers that flatten the grains. They are then transferred to a heated drum for drying. Additional additives may be sprayed on at this point.
45. Study a lot in a short time: CRAM. To stuff something full - as one's brain with subject matter.
46. Pontius __: PILATE. The 5th prelate of the Roman provence of Judea, serving from A.D 26 to 37.
47. Checked (out): SCOPED. Visually examined.
49. Come unglued, with "out": FREAK. Lose it, go berserk, go ballistic.
50. Lake near California's Squaw Valley: TAHOE. A large lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains, straddling the California - Nevada border, famous for its beaches and near-by ski resorts.
51. Throw out: EVICT. A legal process to remove a tenant.
52. Queequeg's captain: AHAB. From Moby Dick.
53. Scoop perch: CONE. Ice cream holder.
54. Military sch. whose mascot is Bill the Goat: USNA. United States Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, MD.
56. Casanova: ROUE. French term for one broken on a wheel, indicating the tortuous punishment such a debauchee allegedly deserves.
57. Common conjunctions: ANDS. Sometimes associated with IFS and BUTS.
59. Brightness figs. not measured in watts: IQS. Intelligence Quotient, indicating mental brightness.
60. "What's goin' on?": 'SUP. Que pasa?
That all, folks. C. C. and Gary gave us a sporting chance.