As I completed the grid, I found the anagramization of T,A,L,E,S at the end of each theme answer quickly GOINGSTALE. It was a nice that the theme's big finish was LASTBUTNOTLEAST, but the presence of NICOLATESLA not withstanding, I felt the puzzle lacked electricity.
I did enjoy KEPI and MELEE, which are both fun words. And 39A. Prevents litter? (SPAYS) was clever, but the parade of LII, LIE, LET, LPS, SSR, ASSN, AKA, BAA, AHS, HTS, CTS, STR, SKA and TASK, to name a few, elicited more than a few muttered TSKS as I puzzed.
Maybe this is too many CARPS, but I am not a fan of LASE (Cut with a beam) as a verb, or NULLS for that matter (48D. Makes void). I thought of a few possible sentences using nulls as the main verb, but it would upset Horace if I printed them here, so you'll have to contact me off blog if you're interested. :)
The clue for 1A. won't win any MEDALS (Things that may be displayed on a general's chest), but as an entry in and of itself, it's not bad.
On TOTHE next.
Ugh. Holy cow there were a ton of ugly answers in this puzzle. How about 1D? A millionth of a meter is a micron. The plural of which is widely accepted to be microns. Not MICRA. Googling "micra" comes up with the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. And nothing related to microns.
And it was just endless. Not fun. I liked the theme concept okay (I agree that NIKOLATESLA was the "least" expected). And I did enjoy 39A: Prevents litter? (SPAYS). That's it.
I agree, Colum; MICRA is terrible. I enjoyed the full CANTERBURYTALES and SPAY, but there's way too much short stuff here. As a note, we have a KEYCASE here at the YBH, a holdover from the previous owner, but we never use it. KISSY?
Yeah, lots of junk in this, but in Mr. Cheng's defense, there is quite a bit of theme material. Still, I think we would all prefer a fun, clean(ish) puzzle to one with a lot of theme. At least I would.
I am quite familiar with the idea of a key case, and I have seen plenty, but I can't imagine actually using one. Where would you keep it? In your other back pocket like a second wallet?!
My grandmother kept it in her purse, which was OK, but yeah, it's not too practical for a man sans murse.Delete