May 16, 2016 — Monday Crossword — NYTimes No. 0411 (originally published 4/11/16)
Today’s theme is 53A: POCKETS (Keeps for oneself … or features of the answers to all the starred clues). The starred clues include: 1A/9A: CARGO/PANTS (With 9-Across, loose fitting bottoms), clearly, lots of pockets on cargo pants; 24A: BOWLINGLANE (Where you can hear a pin drop), not sure about this one, maybe someone can explain to me about pockets in a bowling lane?; 31D: POOLTABLE (Where you might be behind the eight ball), I believe pockets are more of a billiards table thing, but I could be mistaken; and 34D: PITABREAD (Falafel holder — love falafels!).
The layout follows an atypical symmetry. I think this is a nod to the “pockets” theme, but I really haven’t quite figured out the connection. I did enjoy the long center vertical clues in the North (where I began): 6D: ENCHILADAS (Stuffed tortillas); and 8D: SOURGRAPES (Reaction from a sore loser). These straddled 7D: PERON (Evita of “Evita”), not a fan of the politics, but she was quite the cultural icon, and subject of a worthy musical production.
In fact, in a low-key sort of way, despotism is a bit of an offhand theme in today’s crossword puzzle. Starting with Eva Peron, the wife of (arguably) an Argentinian despot, and continuing on to France, with the crossers: 45A: PALACES (Versailles and others), the home of Marie Antoinette; and 46D: EROICA (Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3), which legend has it was originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, but upon learning (at the conclusion of the premier performance) that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor of France, Beethoven either tore up the first page of the score, or erased the dedication. Either way, a dramatic and ballsy move on the part of the composer.