Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: PRESIDENTS DAY (52A: February occasion, some of whose honorees can be found in the answers to the five starred clues) — theme answers hide five president names
- 18A: *Some reddish-orange caviar (SALMON ROE)
- 23A: *Major road (TRAFFIC ARTERY)
- 31A: *Nancy Pelosi was the first person ever to have this title in Congress (MADAM SPEAKER)
- 40A: *Parliamentary procedure (RULES OF ORDER)
- 60A: *Really hunger for (LUST AFTER)
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I'm stunned that there has never been a Presidents Day puzzle—or at least not one with the answer PRESIDENTS DAY in it (according to cruciverb's database). Hide some president names in some answers—seems about as basic as "hide some country names in some answers" (see yesterday's puzzle). Despite the slightly awkward placement of PRESIDENTS DAY in the penultimate theme answer position, and the awkward/redundant TRAFFIC ARTERY (a major road is simply called an "artery"), the puzzle worked fine. MADAM SPEAKER is a nice, original answer, and combining TAFT with lust is a stroke of genius. I like imagining him as a heavyweight lothario. I had two weird sticking points. The first was in the SE, where 69A: Show of overwhelming love just Did Not Mesh with my idea of SWOON. "Show" implies some kind of intent, and no one has ever set out to "show" love by swooning for someone. Plus, I've been reading Dante, and that dude swoons a lot in the beginning of Inferno—mostly from terror or pity, which, I guess, is a kind of love ... anyway, that threw me. So did MONDO—I had MUNDO (66A: World, in Italian). Later, I got weirdly hung up on SEE PAST (42D: Purposely ignore), which I couldn't SEE at all. SEEPS AT? Something AT? I just couldn't read it right. Similar problem with RULES OF ORDER. The "FOR" in there kept causing me to misread it as RULE ... FOR ... something. Also imagined ORS was ERS (because I kept thinking it had the 30D: Hesitant sounds clue that I'd actually seen earlier). All of that was, of course, self-imposed nonsense.
- 1A: Patriot Allen with the Green Mountain Boys (ETHAN) — that *really* sounds like a bluegrass band.
- 47A: Big supermarket chain (KROGER) — I know this chain well, as there are KROGERs all over Michigan, but I didn't know it was widely known outside the midwest.
- 10D: Ljubljana dweller (SLOVENE) — I always want to pronounce this place "Jub-Jub," because I sure as hell can't pronounce it like it's supposed to be pronounced.
- 11D: Dish marinated in sweetened soy sauce (TERIYAKI) — before I started eating sushi, I'd always order chicken TERIYAKI any time we went to a Japanese restaurant. Tasty.