Man, I loved this one. What a great start to the Turn.
The UEY idea isn't exactly new, I don't think, but it's done very well here, and I especially like the double-UEY in the center. STRIK/ESABA/LANCE (**Doesn't go to either extreme) is really nice. Just typing that in, I noticed that the clue is given two asterisks, but I didn't notice that during the solve, which I am happy about, as it would have spoiled the surprise.
|Dad would be proud - I filled this one in without crosses!|
Also, the five theme answers are symmetrical, and the revealer is tucked away in the second-to-last Down answer, which gave me lots of time to wonder what the heck was going on before it was finally "explained." I had entered TWOTIM for "1A: *Adlai Stevenson as a presidential candidate, e.g." and I knew something was up, but I didn't stop to figure it out. I will say, though, that the revealer was really just that today, as it instantly cleared things up for me, and allowed me to fill in SALAR/YCAPS, which I had wanted immediately, but could not figure out how to enter.
In addition to the fun theme, I really enjoyed the cluing today. Take, for example, the excellent 7D: Stand (COPSE), 13D: Beat (WEARY), 39A: Tomorrow's jr. (SOPH) (the P here was my last square), 49A: Boxer's concern, maybe (FLEAS), and 43A: George I or V? (SOFTG). Gaaahhh! (with a hard G) They got me again!
For all this goodness, we have to tolerate a couple Italian plurals (BASSI and TEMPI), a few GOBS of crosswordese (IDEO, EEGS, ENIAC, etc.), and a little weirdness with GIVEEAR and AFLOWER, but I can easily overlook that stuff today.
And then we come to the elephant in the puzzle - VEEPSTAKES. Wikipedia claims that this term has been seen in print as far back as 1952, but I had never heard it until today. Kind of a funny word, actually, and I'm glad to have learned it.
I'll say again that I really enjoyed this one. It's just the kind of puzzle that makes doing crossword puzzles worthwhile.
p.s. I can't help wondering how Mr. Ginsberg's crossword puzzle-solving computer program did on this one, and whether or not he has been creating lots of trick puzzles like this one in an effort to improve the program.
p.p.s. Dr. Fill couldn't solve it, and yes, Mr. Ginsberg did use it to test the programming. Also, he submitted "Parisian woman?" as a clue for HELEN, which I think is brilliant, but which was ultimately changed to something much easier.