I thoroughly enjoyed this Friday offering from Mr. Silk. The long ten- and eight-letter triple-stacks are just chock-full of great fill. Led, perhaps, by VERTEBRA (14D: It's in the back) (excellent clueing), each one of them (except PARAPHRASE (60A: Put into new words), for me, at least), required at least one cross, and there was a pleasant "aha!" moment with several of them. For "15A: Store in the Middle East?" I kept trying to think of terms like "bazaar," but no, it's OILRESERVE. Nice. And "17A: Round numbers?" isn't anything about totals or averages, it's about rounds of golf - GREENSFEES. Very nice.
I got into this one with a smile at "16A: Erato played one" (LYRE), as that came up a few puzzles ago, clued the other way around, and we posted an image of Erato in this blog. My next entry was another bit of crosswordese - OTT (22A: Giant legend), and instead of rolling my eyes, I felt a kinship with solvers everywhere, many of whom might sometimes rely, as I do, on these well-worn entries as a way of getting a toehold in a late-week puzzle. I find it amusing, as I review the puzzle now, to see that AMATI (23A: Violinist's prize) is the very next clue. That, too, is oft used in grids, and you can almost see Mr. Silk (and perhaps Mr. Shortz, who must run into this almost daily) trying to disguise it just a little more for a Friday. Well, it worked on me today, and I've got no complaint.
A couple of entries seemed a tad arbitrary - FOODWEB (28A: System of what eats what) actually Googles up pretty damn well (764,000,000 results), but my brain kept refusing to move beyond "food chain" (A food web is the interconnection of food chains). And sure, I guess HEELPAD (44A: Runner's shock absorber) is also a thing, but it's not terribly exciting. Also, it's a little weird to have AAACELL (23D: Small power source) crossing TRIPLEA (42A: Excellent credit rating). Just sayin'.
My one error was way down in the very last square, and it took me over three minutes to find! I had DIMMEr instead of DIMMED (47D: Not so bright), and I guess I accepted "STARRYEYEr" as somebody who is "62A: Idealistic" (STARRYEYED). Oh well. Tough cross - especially if you get the Down first!
1A: Junk removal service (SPAMFILTER) - A-.
Favorite clue/answer - the aforementioned VERTEBRA. Although 25A: Like newspaper headlines, typically (TERSE) is right up there.
This is everything a puzzle ought to be. Hidden capitals (53D: Equal amts. (TSPS)), paired clues ("Removes from power," "Removal from power"), fun stuff, unexpected stuff... SOGOOD.