Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: a deer, a female deer — theme answers all end with the sound of "DOE"
Word of the Day: ADEN (31A: Port of Oman) —
Aden [...] is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea (the Gulf of Aden), some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately a million people. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a low isthmus. This harbour, Front Bay, was first used by the ancient Kingdom of Awsan between the 5th and 7th centuries BCE. The modern harbour is on the other side of the peninsula. (wikipedia)
• • •A pretty nice Monday. Fill is generally boring (as it can be in a 78-worder), but the five theme answers are fairly interesting, and I especially like the grid-spanning "WAITING FOR GODOT" in the middle. Had no idea what the theme was til I was done (and I was done in 2:39, which is largely why I never noticed the theme). I always feel that if a puzzle is 78 words, there should be almost no cruddy fill. High word-count grids are easiest to fill, and 78 words is the max. I'm saying this only to explain why stuff like ON YOU and OREG annoy me more on a day like today than on, say, a Friday (I wouldn't like them there either, but I'd understand them). So—stale fill, but solid theme answers and a cute little theme. Fine.
- 17A: It's kneaded at a bakery (BREAD DOUGH)
- 23A: "Doonesbury" cartoonist (GARRY TRUDEAU)
- 35A: Samuel Beckett play with an unseen character ("WAITING FOR GODOT")
- 47A: Vito Corleone portrayer (MARLON BRANDO)
- 57A: 1954 Hitchcock thriller ("REAR WINDOW") — went through a big Grace Kelly phase in grad school. This remains one of my very favorite movies. Curiously, and perhaps unexpectedly, my big Grace Kelly phase was followed closely by my big Mamie Van Doren phase.
- 15A: Flirty toon Betty ___ (BOOP) — big thumbs-up to the phrase "flirty toon"
- 29A: Roman poet who wrote "To be loved, be lovable" (OVID) — this was from his treatise on picking up hot chicks entitled Ars amatoria (roughly translated, it means "hot piece of ass")
- 37D: Chicken tikka go-with (NAAN) — the puzzle remains the only place I ever see the term "go-with." Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have some tea and chocolate (my "Downton Abbey" go-withs).