Monday June 19, 2023 Susan Gelfand

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Hello Cornerites! Today is the U.S.'s newest federal holiday, Juneteenth.

sumdaze here. I was happy to see Susan Gelfand's name on today's puzzle. I enjoy her positive puns, witty words, and clever cluing. Today is no exception. We were treated to a fun solve by an exceptional constructor! THUS, our theme is:
Please make an exception-al pun.
Today's puzzle had 4 themers with no reveal. The first and third were right-aligned in the grid while the second and fourth were left-aligned.
Each themed answer is a 2-word phrase such that the first word is a synonym for "exceptional" and the second word is another way of saying the remaining words in the clue. Together, they make up a common phrase.
Let's take a closer look:

18 Across. Exceptional lithograph?: FINE PRINT.  What everyone knows we should always read.

27 Across. Exceptional place to play tennis?: SUPREME COURT. Hmmmm.... what would be more fun, reading about 9 lawyers who constantly 'argue' or listening to Diana Ross' trio?
Click the arrow to watch one of The Supremes' 14 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

44 Across. Exceptional job vacancy?: GRAND OPENING.  Here is the job OPENINGs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

55 Across. Exceptional plantain?: TOP BANANA.  
The Savannah Bananas are the TOP BANANAs of baseball entertainment.

There are more where those came from:
1. Stand-up comic's material: JOKES.  
6. Take down with a wrecking ball: RAZE.  to destroy to the ground; demolish.
Watch this video to see a Tokyo building being taken down in the most polite way possible. (1:29 min.) 

10. Lickety-split: FAST.
14. Similar: ALIKE.

15. Former flames: EXES.  "ashES" was too long.

16. Miscellany: OLIO.  You can select from this list of links on the Crossword Corner.
17. Professional parker: VALET.
20. Toward the stern: AFT.  
21. Therefore: THUS.

23. Mental picture: IMAGE.  "Mental" is superfluous. Rather than helping to narrow things down, sometimes an extra word can be something I trip over.

24. Dab with a tissue: BLOT.  Here is a Rorschach ink BLOT. What do you see?

25. Spread, as cream cheese: SMEARED.  Is it schmear or SMEAR? I am not an authority but I thought this explanation made sense:  
Click to enlarge.

31. Foy of "The Crown": CLAIRE.  CLAIRE's IMDb page

32. Heavenly headwear: HALO.  
33. Chitchat: GAB.

36. __ Spunkmeyer cookies: OTIS.

37. Sprang: LEAPT.

39. Gondolier's stick: POLE.  
Does he look authentic?
He works at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
40. Bundle of bills: WAD.

41. Destitute: POOR.

42. Weather map line: ISOBAR.  a line on a map or chart connecting or marking places of equal barometric pressure.
Those lines have a name???

46. Florida squad that was the first to win two World Series titles as a wild-card team: MARLINS.
FL has two MLB teams: Tampa Bay Rays and Miami MARLINS. So you really just need to count the boxes...but the trivia is interesting.

49. Modeling medium: CLAY.  I'm going with SNL's Mr. Bill on this one. (2:36 min.)

50. Language student's challenge: IDIOM.
Def:  an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as up in the air for "undecided") or in its grammatically atypical use of words (such as give way).

51. Hold on to: KEEP.

52. Abbr. in a high-rise address: APT.  AParTment number

58. Pro sports VIP: OWNER.

60. "Magic __ House": kid-lit series: TREE.  The TREE house is "magic" because it is a time machine that takes the children (Jack & Annie) to significant dates in history where they learn a lesson. These are terrific books for readers aged 6-10. So far there are 63 titles.

61. Plow-pulling team: OXEN.

62. Back in fashion: RETRO.  The past is the future.

63. Strong desires: YENS.  If you save your YEN, you can purchase your desires in Tokyo.

64. Summer shirts: TEES.  
This girl is wearing a RETRO TEE.

65. On edge: TESTY.

1. Morning cuppa: JAVA.

2. "Frozen" snowman who sings "In Summer": OLAF.  One of my FAVs, Josh Gad, voices OLAF.

3. Bagpiper's wear: KILT.

4. __ out a living: just get by: EKE.

5. Oregon Trail traveler, e.g.: SETTLER.  B
etween 1846 and 1869, approximately 400,000 settlers, farmers, miners, ranchers, and business entrepreneurs, along with their families, traveled its 2,170 miles from Missouri to the West. source

6. Prove wrong: REFUTE.

7. x or y, on graphs: AXIS.  
You can go 3D by adding the z-AXIS.

8. Extremely chill: ZEN.  I named my town bike ZEN because it is chill and because that was the name of the guy working at the shop where I bought it.

9. Opposite of WNW: ESE.  Nāʻālehu on the ESE side of Hawaii's Big Island is the southernmost community with a U.S. post office (within
 the 50 States).  

10. Layout: FORMAT.

11. "Are you calling me __?": A LIAR.

12. Burn the tips of: SINGE.

13. Lugged: TOTED.

19. Early Renaissance painter __ della Francesca: PIERO.  
né Piero di Benedetto dei Franceschi, (1416-1492)
Piero della Francesca's  serene, disciplined exploration of perspective had little influence on his contemporaries but he came to be recognized in the 20th century as a major contributor to the Italian Renaissancemore info  
portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino (1470-ish)

22. Mortgage, often: HOME LOAN.

24. Jewish ceremony for a newborn son: BRIS.

25. Suds source: SOAP.  We've recently had some conversations on The Corner about the dangers of dropping this on your foot. Perhaps a solution is to use hotel-size bars.

26. __-choice test: MULTIPLE.

27. Flat-bottomed boat: SCOW.

28. "The Possibilities Are Beautiful" cosmetics superstore: ULTA.

29. Picked up the tab: PAID.

30. Swiss __: leafy vegetable: CHARD.  

33. Asian desert: GOBI.  It is the 6th largest desert on Earth. 19 more interesting facts

34. "Succession" actor Ruck: ALAN.  Back in 1986, he was Ferris Bueller's best bud.  

35. Glacier chunk: BERG.  
38. Ages and ages: EONS.

39. Chincoteague horse: PONY.  I have seen these horses on Assateague Island in Virginia. You can read more about them here.

41. Ballerina descriptor: PRIMA.  
Svetlana Zakharova (born 1979 in Lutsk, Ukraine)
She is truly exceptional!

43. City on a harbor: SEAPORT.  Hand up for first trying to make a specific city fit.

44. Spinning classroom spheres: GLOBES.

45. Waters between continents: OCEANS.  You can find these on GLOBES.

46. "The Secret Life of Walter __": MITTY.  Yesterday we had 89D. 
Walter Mitty creator James: THURBER.
This short story was first published in The New Yorker in 1939. It was made into a movie in 2013 starring Ben Stiller.

47. Cherish: ADORE.

48. Reach peak flavor: RIPEN.  Cherries are finally in season. Yum!

51. Patella's place: KNEE.  a little alliteration

52. Targets of Terro bait traps: ANTS.  
53. Sassy: PERT.

54. Donald Glover's "Community" role: TROY.  
the cast of Community
In case you are wondering, Donald is not related to Danny.

56. Commandment word: NOT.  as in "Thou shalt NOT..."

57. Body spray brand: AXE.  a fav among teenage boys

59. Teeny-tiny: WEE.  PSA to teenage boys:  if you use AXE body spray, you only need a WEE bit.

Wishing you all an exceptional day (in a good way)!

Notes from C.C.:

Our foodie Steve Marron and I made today's USA Today crossword. Click here to solve. It's edited by Amanda Rafkin. Congrats on your USA debut, Steve!