Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Networking Event" — familiar phrases wherein the first word is also a TV network; "?"-clues imagine that the phrases are network-related
Word of the Day: HONE (101A: You might rub a knife across it) —
- A fine-grained whetstone for giving a keen edge to a cutting tool.
- A tool with a rotating abrasive tip for enlarging holes to precise dimensions.
• • •
Found the cluing on this oddly hard. Clues were *just* out of my familiarity zone. I've never used [Savvies] or GROKS, for instance. I've been entranced, but never HEXED. I know HONE as a verb, but not a noun. I know ALBS, but not ABAS (64D: Sheiks' garments). I have no idea what trio a LAMPPOST could possibly be part of (79D: One of a secretive trio). I didn't not know ION was a TV network *or* that ION EXCHANGE was a thing. I did not know that beads of any kind came from CORALS. I spelled PAYTON thusly. Etc. I actually had an error up top because the clue for SINAI was utterly meaningless to me, devoid of anything SINAI-ish at all, and so when I ended up with SENAI (because of BEER instead of BIER at 5D: Drink served with Brezeln), I didn't even question it (18A: Locale of St. Catherine's Monastery, said to be the world's oldest working monastery). If the clue is fantastically esoteric, it must be because it's trying to justify the importance of some strange geographic location I've never heard of, I reasoned. Quality-wise, everything in this puzzle seems just fine.
- 22A: Fancy footwear at a TV station? (SPIKE HEELS)
- 24A: Advertising department at a TV station? (E-MARKETING)
- 36A: Slide show at a TV station? (ENCORE PRESENTATION)
- 56A: Q&A at a TV station? (ION EXCHANGE)
- 72A: Expert at a TV station? (HISTORY BUFF) — this one doesn't repurpose HISTORY very well (or at all)
- 86A: Enrollment at a TV station? (LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP)
- 104A: Recruiters at a TV station? (FOX HUNTERS) — nothing about this said "FOX" to me. These days, with shows like "House Hunters," seemed like any three-letter word could've come before "HUNTERS"
- 106A: Fish holder at a TV station? (OXYGEN TANK)
- 5A: Cowboys' home, familiarly (BIG D) — I remember the first time I saw this in a puzzle, mainly because it Naticked me (thought I was dealing with one word, and the cross was ... something, clearly)
- 27A: ___ Levy, four-time Super Bowl coach for Buffalo (MARV) — I hear the fifth time's the charm...
- 35A: Classic toy company whose name is its founder's middle name (LIONEL) — Toy trains. Does anyone under 40 still "play" with those? Reverend Lovejoy of "The Simpsons" is a model train enthusiast. No idea if the same can be said for DISCO STU (8D: "The Simpsons" character with platform shoes)
- 50A: River to Korea Bay (YALU) — a river I know mainly from constructing. It's a lifeline I generally refuse to use (unless there's no alternative, obviously—so far that hasn't been an issue).
- 82A: George nicknamed Mr. Basketball (MIKAN) — I wanted MIKUS. I think that's the last name of some of my parents' friends. Somebody and Connie? Where is this info coming from?
- 103A: Country singer David Allan ___, writer of "Take This Job and Shove It" (COE) — parents were big POE fans, I'm guessing.
- 109A: It's picked in the Pacific (UKE) — I took "in the Pacific" literally.
- 10D: Gold rush town of 1899 (NOME) — Gold, four letters, this is it.
- 14D: Mythical figure blinded by Oenopion (ORION) — their names are disturbingly similar. I did not know ORION was "blinded." My daughter would likely laugh at my ignorance (so don't tell her, for god's sake; she's stroppy enough as it is).
- 49D: Leucippus and Democritus, philosophically (ATOMISTS) — "The atomists theorized that the natural world consists of two fundamental parts: indivisible atoms and empty void." (wikipedia). ADAMISTS, on the other hand, are nudists. There's an interesting Venn diagram waiting to happen.
- 88D: Half of a title role for John Barrymore or Spencer Tracy (MR. HYDE) — took a lot of doing. You never know what "half" is going to mean in a clue like this. MATA could be half a title role, for instance. I mean, not here, obviously, but, well, you get my point. Or you don't.
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