Any mention of David Bowie in the crossword deserves up front attention. In this case the clue was about his gorgeous wife 39A: IMAN (Supermodel who married David Bowie). Made my morning.
OK, I had some difficulties today. It took me a long time to figure out the inner puzzle. I know on Thursdays the inner puzzle is usually a little tricky. And maybe I was looking for a bigger trick than was really there. But I had quite a time finding any starting points. In fact, I completed the entire Eastern third of the grid before I had any idea of what the inner puzzle was all about. Took me 45 minutes to complete the entire puzzle, not great for a Thursday (or, really, any day).
Usually about a third of the answers will jump out at me. Not so today. In fact, only three clues were readily apparent to me at the beginning. Let’s start with 6A: IMDB (Big online source for film info). This week one of my brood was writing a school report on one of his film heroes, Tobey Maguire (Spiderman 1,2,3) and using IMDB as a source. So that was kinda a gimme. Then I promptly made an error on 7D: MENLO (Bay Area’s ___ College) which I misanswered Merit. That I had grossly misspelled Merritt College didn’t seem to faze me. Luckily I also correctly guessed 15A: DEER (___ Valley (Utah ski resort)) which helped balance my later efforts in the North.
What oddly I did seem to know right off were 25A: JETTA (Volkswagen model) and 22D: DJING (Activity for some wedding hires).
Still it took me a good thirty minutes to complete the East, which culminated in finally figuring out the long vertical clue 10D: ILOVEPARIS (Cole Porter tune sung by Frank Sinatra and Maurice Chevalier), which admittedly should have been much more obvious to me. Paris is my second favorite city (after Istanbul).
My only anchor in the SW was 46A: ALITO (Supreme Court justice nominated by Bush), but that didn’t help me much for quite awhile in solving the other clues.
No, I had to first solve the inner puzzle. I did notice the five clues with question marks all started with “Double,” but I wasn’t quite sure what they (the puzzlemakers) were getting at. The first glimpse I got of their meaning came in the SE. I noticed ABET at the end of 55A. That I had misanswered 45D: PERDAY (Like some parking garage rates) as “hourly” didn’t help at all. But, I thought, what if the “Double” meant two words that are synonymous, usually go together, separated by the word “and”? And with my legal background (multifaceted, if you know about that) I thought that 55A: AIDANDABET (Double back?) just might work. So I tried it.
Soon I had three of the other inner puzzle answers and was well on my way: 17A: ONEANDONLY (Double solitaire?); 21A: NULLANDVOID (Double space?); 33A: SNATCHANDGRAB (Double take?).
50A: VIMANDVIGOR (Double life?) took me quite a bit longer (back to my problems with daily parking rates), and in fact I finished the puzzle with 44A: UPSIDE (Benefit) and my problem clue 45D.
Altogether a fun puzzle. Made me think.