Good morning, and welcome to the week where for once every puzzle has to live up to the standard set by Sunday's grid.
Today's raises the bar for Monday puzzles by increasing the grid size. The puzzle is a hefty 16x15 in order to accommodate the three grid-spanning answers at 17A, 40A, and 63A. I love this concept! Reinterpreting classic idioms as if they were literally occurring where they seem appropriate. Thus, being "in suspense" as in ONPINSANDNEEDLES could only happen in a tailor's shop. Similarly, progressing BYLEAPSANDBOUNDS obviously happens most neatly in a ballet studio.
ATSIXESANDSEVENS is such an evocative phrase to me, bringing to mind Captain Corcoran's solo song at the beginning of Act II of HMS Pinafore ("Say, why is everything / either at sixes or at sevens?"). The phrase itself originated from a dice game: apparently rolling a six or a seven meant risking all your money. One of the earliest references is from Chaucer in the 14th century.
|POET Maya Angelou|
The size of the grid allows for some nice down answers as well. We all enjoy good SPITTAKES, and LADYBIRD was an excellent film. STARGAZE is a lovely entry, and also draws attention to the pair of double-Z answers in OZZIE and RAZZ.
Other answers I found cromulent included GALLS, NADIRS (although can you really have more than one of them?), CAIRO (we have a town locally by that name, but you pronounce it CAY-ro, as opposed to CHI-ro), and EDGAR Degas, appropriately close to the ballet studio.
Fun Monday! Finished in 3:00, appropriate for the larger grid.