There was much to enjoy in today's puzzle, but I feel like starting on a sour note (and thus hopefully ending on a sweet one). I don't much like A____ answers, adjectives whose A has been appended ad hoc to allow access alphabetically. And in this puzzle, we have four. I'll allow AGHAST and AFRESH, and even ABLAZE is commonly used. AGLEAM, however... well. That's not in common usage.
That being said, who can complain when QUINCYJONES adorns the center of your puzzle? Well known celebrity, full name, and such lovely scrabbly letters. Also, having HOCHIMINH's full name (with the great trivia in the clue) and breakfast sausages in the form of JIMMYDEAN, well, nobody doesn't love breakfast sausages, do they?
No need to answer if you don't.
Meanwhile, I came across some really excellent clues today. Here's a great one at 4A: It might be laid down if broken (THELAW). 11D: One getting the lead out, say (OREMINER) was a tough one to figure out. Two good QMCs come at 6D: Sound from a chicken, say? (EEK) and 51A: Get smart? (DOLLUP). Another great one came at 18D: Court entertainers (PEPSQUAD). We wanted "jEsters," until we realized the court could be a basketball court.
My favorite clue, however, came at 59A: Far from a popular spot (ZIT). Such a good non-QMC! Without the question mark, I really had no clue where we were going, especially with that Z at the start. Kudos to Hope for getting this one.
|"Life as a REPOMAN is always intense."|
I appreciate 48A: One with a solo in Brahms's Symphony No. 1 (OBOE), both for the reference to my favorite composer of all time, and for the odd specificity of the clue. Oboes have solos in so many symphonies, that to choose this one in particular is not very revelatory. Truthfully, it's always going to be an oboe (and the only other likely four-letter orchestral instrument is a tuba, which rarely has a solo - but not never!).
Finally, YKNOW looks great in the grid. I thought it might have something to do with Y2K for a brief moment.