Jacob has always puzzled me with his puzzles like his Wednesday NYT, and while the solve was okay and I am not a great solver, I was having difficulty with the explanation. The basic theme has TANG inside the fill, and I now understand why after consulting with the Corner guru. The first four themers are:
14A. *1952 #1 hit for Leroy Anderson : BLUE TANGO (9), Do not know the SONG or the artist, but the perps and the theme gave me this answer quickly.
17A. *Math reciprocal : COTANGENT(9). This was easy, but I will defer to our math experts to discuss.
61A. *"Atomic" Crayola color : TANGERINE (9). I am not sure why but I remember this color.
66A. *Bogged down : ENTANGLED (9). Not perfect fit for me.
Then we have the supplemental variation of the old joke about a fly in the soup:
30A. With 35-Across, question the starred clues might ask : WHAT IS THIS FLY (13).
35A. See 30-Across : DOING IN MY ANSWER (15).
44. Response to 30-/35-Across, and a hint to a hidden word in 14-, 17-, 61- and 66-Across : THE BACK STROKE (13).
I was struggling to make sense of the back stroke reference when I was made aware that TANG backwards spells GNAT, which makes it all fit together as the GNAT in each theme answer is backwards leaving a FLY doing a backstroke. Really inventive combination of words and visual.
Again we have a Friday with almost 60 five letter or shorter words, 42 blocks and only a few non theme related sparkly fill such as ANCHOR, BEATER, EERILY, IT WAS I, KEITEL, OUTLAW, SHIRTS, SO THAT, AT STAKE, ESSENCE. We also have the cross-referenced reveal which get some complaints, and if you do not know the old joke it may have been a bear, but overall this was as an inventive and puzzling puzzle.
1. Long __ : AGO. We begin like STAR WARS Episode IV only it is our constructor who has a mind from a different galaxy.
4. Spartan colonnades : STOAS. You see many of these on college campuses as well.
9. Belief of more than a billion : ISLAM.
16. "Done!" : THERE.
18. Expand : WIDEN.
19. Numskull : DOLT.
20. Start of a rumor : I HEAR...that Rich does not like partials, is this one?
22. Fuel economy testing org. : EPA. Environemental Protection Agency.
23. Business card word : FAX.
26. On the table : AT STAKE.
33. Zhou __ : EN LAI. This Chinese POLITICIAN and cohort of Mao actually died a few month before Mao's death. And 25D. Capital of Shaanxi Province : XI'AN. CSO to our own.
34. Wide size : EEE.
42. Boston Coll. is in it : ACC. Atlantic Coast Conference.
43. '90s runner : PEROT. For president, not for distance, Ross.
50. Pith : ESSENCE.
51. Medit. land : ISRael.
52. Revised versions: Abbr. : EDS. Editions.
55. Sharp : ACRID. I think of smells.
57. Stop on Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited route : ERIE. CSO.
58. Theodore's first lady : EDITH. This LADY. She was however, his second wife.
65. Event with pole bending : RODEO. Like slalom for cowboys? No idea.
68. Holds up : LASTS. And, 46D. Hold : ANCHOR.
69. Sch. units : YRS.
1. Start of a children's song : ABCDE.
2. Gluttonous Augustus in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" : GLOOP. I did not remember his NAME.(2:39)
3. Posse target : OUTLAW.
4. Stop: Abbr. : STN.
5. __ sale : TAG. We have yard sales, garage sales, moving sales as well as THESE. My grandmother manufactured tags in Southbridge.
6. Word with man or horse : ONE. ReallY?
7. Latin lambs : AGNI. A variation from our normal reference.
8. To make sure : SO THAT.
9. Confessor's words : IT WAS I. I started with I DID IT which also fit.
10. Haberdashery stock : SHIRTS. The original meaning was the peddler of notions such as needles, thread etc. but it has become associated with outfitting a man.
11. Directed : LED.
12. Exist : ARE.
13. Sign on a door : MEN. It safer to put gentleman and ladies, too easy to remove WO.
15. Put away : EAT.
21. Djibouti neighbor: Abbr. : ETHiopia.
23. Canine : FANG. Rhymes with TANG.
24. Hun king, in Norse legend : ATLI. Is this a comeback this week for ATTILA?
27. Several : A FEW.
28. "Twittering Machine" artist : KLEE. I had the K and filled in the rest, but I still am not very knowledgeable about painting. I have seen the picture, but did not know the name.
29. Observer : EYER. Not a favorite clue/fill.
31. Mother __ : HEN.
32. Fools : SIMPS. Literally I guess this is true as a simpleton is a foos.
35. 2/3, say : DATE. This partial clue fooled me for a while.
36. Big name in publishing : OCHS. Really, really BIG for the NY Times, not so much our journal.
37. Decorates, in a way : ICES. Tin, it is okay to ice a cake.
38. Mountain sighting : YETI. Ridiculous. I would rather see....
They were at Woodstock
39. JFK list : ARRS.
40. Queen dowager of Jordan : NOOR. Our American export. LINK.
41. Wall St. purchase : STK.
45. Rattletrap : BEATER. I know the term from reading old books,, but I have never heard anyone actually use the term.
47. "Born on the Bayou" band, briefly : CCR. Credence Clearwater Revival, a 2nd Woodstock band.
48. "Mean Streets" co-star : KEITEL. Harvey. A powerful FILM. (2:58)
49. How ghost stories are told : EERILY.
53. "2 Broke Girls" setting : DINER. A female variation of the ODD COUPLE in the grand tradition of sitcoms from Lucy to the present. Much more sexual innuendo and talk. It used to follow The Big Bang Theory so I tried it.
54. Origins : SEEDS.
56. Actress Delany : DANA. I have watched her on many things since China Beach. (2:28)
57. Bit of work : ERG. Followed by....
58. Triage ctrs. : ERS. Emergency Rooms.
59. Finish, as a letter, perhaps : DOT. Finish writing the letter (i) , not the letter! Ah ha, I get it.
60. Wyo. neighbor : IDAho.
62. Some Windows systems : NTS.
63. Hood's gun : GAT.
64. U.S. Army rank abolished in 1815 : ENS. A WAG that was easier than I expected.
Another Friday gone, another month, another change of season and another puzzle with a somewhat complicated gimmick. I had fun once I got past the TANG + GNAT backwards part. A reminder to always look both ways when you see "BACK" in a puzzle. Enjoy the birdies. Lemonade out.