All settled back in here in Albany after the weekend's mild fiasco (c.f. yesterday's post), it's lovely to sit down to a straightforward and fun Monday puzzle.
This is a great theme! I love the concept: taking a standard phrase where the second word can be redefined to mean "a group of," and then cluing the newly parsed phrase to fit the new meaning. All of them work so well, especially because each time the word is truly redefined. As in HOUSEPARTY - the term here originally is used to mean festivities. My favorite is 47A: Group of profoundly insightful people? (DEEPSET). Lovely!
It's odd to have two 7-letter theme answers, but it means there's a lot more room to play around in the fill. HODGEPODGE is a great long down answer, and VEGETABLES is a nice one.
As is fitting for a Monday, there aren't a ton of clever clues, but I really like the trivia at 33A. ALASKA! Who knew your flag was the product of a teenaged mind? And referring to the 'N Sync song is a great way to make BYE more interesting as an answer. Honestly, I would have guessed far more than 52 for how many times they sung the word. Maybe it counts as more times when all five were singing it together in harmony?
|John Ben "Benny" Benson
I was slightly slowed here and there by little missteps, such as AsHA for a hot second, ABaft for longer than that. But nothing too terrible, and I enjoyed the solve.