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Puzzle by Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke
Four baby animals are hidden in the inter-related entries of CHICKFLICKS (18A “Pretty Woman” and “Waiting to Exhale”); JOEYLAWRENCE (28A Actor who got his start on TV’s “Gimme a Break!”; COLTREVOLVER (48A Shooter of westerns); and CALFMUSCLES (62A They’re exercised when cycling). Lurking less intentionally are the baby animals that might be inferred by EARLESS (26A Like harp seals); CATNIP (8A It makes Frisky frisky); BOAR (1D Animal hunted in one of Hercules’ 12 labors); even RABBI (20A Shul’s shepherd) which may have lost its “t” and ZBAR (37D Letter-shaped beam), an “e“-less anagram of zebra -- even PESTS (13D Termites and such), or NACRE (11D Mother-of pearl), not to open Pandora’s Box!
This pleasant puzzle’s pacing father seems to have withdrawal symptoms what with MRCOFFEE (39D Automatic-drip machine maker) crossing ALCOHOL (51D What virgin drinks lack), as he COMESIN (46D Arrives) NERVOUSLY (35D With shaking hands, perhaps) to deal with TRIFLERS (10D Those who don’t behave seriously) and dine on HUMBLEPIE (3D It’s embarrassing to eat) and FRET (23A Stew [over]) as WHISTLES (30D Sound from a teakettle) MAIM (38A Wing, e.g.) the brain adding RIGOR (31D Ordeal’s quality) to the proceedings.
Motherlessness? AIRACE (16A Top gun) kept reading as A. I. RACE (cyborgs in competition?) making one's KNEEBONE (19D Patella) and ILIA (58D Pelvic bones) AIL (9D Be indisposed) upon a FALL (4A Ladder danger).
YMA (71A Singer Sumac) (queen of eight octaves of whom it‘s said her real name was Amy Camus), warbles weirdly to over a half-dozen non-identical twins -- LAC and LOX, LEIS and LEAS, LACE, and LIEF, ORU and SOO, BOCA and BOAR, BAH and BEY, AIL and AIM, ARIA and ASEA, AMP and ARNE, OMOO and OMAN, RNA and RCA, ROAM and SENT, ERR and DOH, with wallflower ugly duckling singles JAM, MGR, SERB and YARN awaiting another day.
The mother of England, QEII (56A Oscar-winning role for Helen Mirren, in brief) makes her second appearance this week. Orphaned entries include SAAB (25D Fashion designer Elie) which gets a non-automotive clue, ORTEGA (66A Rival of Old El Paso) and SONIC (45A Hit Sega title character) also with new cluing. EXURB (59A Part of a metropolitan area) has returned, as has SNERD (43A Dummy Mortimer), ARNAZ (34A “I Love Lucy” co-star) and SAHIB (33A “Master“).
A new pair, ICKES (12D Clinton adviser Harold) and ICKY (57D Totally gross) join entries that seem to be up for adoption, including CELTS (53D Druids, e.g.), LOQUAT (49D Plumlike Chinese fruit); ALCOA (51D Foil-making giant), FACIALS (4D Spa offerings), TIVO (41D Busy viewer’s convenience), CAFTAN (8D Beach cover-up); and Opera’s KIRI Te Kanawa (67A) sings a lullaby.
LIARS (52D Specialists in storytelling?) are tucked away in the lower left of the grid, while that BIGOT (40A Archie Bunker, famously) for reasons unknown, sits dead center in the middle of it all.
Excuse me, I'm going to go burp the baby!-----------------
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