Well I am back, two weeks have passed and Jeffrey Wechsler is back as well. This is a traditional letter substitution puzzle where the letter "T" following an "S" is removed from a common phrase and replaced with a "C" to create an amusing image, clued with humor. The first three have the change in the first word, the last two the last word. I love much of the fill, with only 69 words and an average length in excess of 5 letters, this is more of challenge. He puts many letters into the theme, also 69 (hmmm) which gives the puzzle an interesting look leaving little room for long down answers. He does have some so so fill but there are ALBINO, DOES SO, LOUVER, MOLSON, MOSEYS, OPEN BY, SPEARS, TRYSTS, TUGS AT, WOOLLY, ANTLERS, DESIGNS, DRUM SOLO, MRS. SMITH, NOBLESSE, TRAINEES all worth the effort to uncover. The theme generated some chuckles for me, you?
16A. Imperfect produce? : SCUFFED CABBAGE (14). Stuffed cabbage was a regular meal growing up, and the image of a damaged head of cabbage is cute.
23A. Nocturnal picket-line crosser? : SCAB IN THE DARK (13). Stab in the dark sounds ominous. For me this was the most tortured themer, but it works.
34A. Reconnaissance team? : SCOUTHEARTED MEN (15). Stouthearted men for some reason makes me think of Mel Brooks' Men in Tights.
48A. Result of a London tea cart mishap? : ROLLING SCONES (13). The picture of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards etc. watching their scones roll away is precious.
57A. Feature of a taped hardcore punk performance? : VIDEO SCREAMING (14). Video streaming is hot, but I think of other bands as the screamers.
Okay let's unwrap this baby:
1. 17th-century privateer : KIDD. All you wanted to know about WILLIAM who is not to be confused with the 15th Century pirate William Kyd.
5. Rock worth unearthing : ORE.
8. Military groups : UNITS. This took longer than it should.
13. About : IN RE. A gimme for those who studied Latin or the law.
14. Downtime for Mars? : PAX. Latin for peace, certainly a rest time for a war god.
15. Absorb : SOP UP. What the bread is for at the end of a really good meal.
19. Rob's "West Wing" role : SAM. Sam SEABORN. (2:24).
20. Domestic tearjerker : ONION. Tricky, but just cut them under water and you can stem the tears.
21. "__ Wedding": "The Simpsons" episode involving a fortune-teller : LISA'S. Easy to guess but the clue was not helpful.
26. Wild partner : WOOLLY. According to phrase finder. "This expression is of American origin and came into being to describe the 'wild' west of the country sometime after the Californian Gold Rush era of the 1850s."
28. __ Alamos : LOS. We had this test site recently.
29. Screening gp. : TSA. Transportation Security Administration.
30. Woodstock performer before Joan : ARLO. he was booed off the stage for refusing to sing Alice's Restaurant, Ms. Baez was wonderful, and then the rains came.
31. Kid's comeback : DOES SO. Does not!!!
40. Romance novel features : TRYSTS. A lovely old fashioned word that makes cheating sound okay.
41. 1963 role for Shirley : IRMA. La DOUCE (2:15).
42. In the same way as : A LA. Some French for Splynter.
45. Defensive question : AM I? Your ami?
46. It merged with Coors in 2005 : MOLSON. They are all in trouble in the wake of the craft beer revolution.
52. __ Blades, Latin jazz star : RUBEN. No idea; what do you think?
53. Oater omen : NOOSE. Hang 'em High.
54. Uma's "Pulp Fiction" role : MIA. This movie always generates lots of differing opinions, I hated it, then I loved it.
60. Stage direction : ENTER.
61. Vital : KEY.
62. Relative of -ule : ETTE. french diminutive suffixes; tough clue, reversed I would not have gotten it.
63. Ruled quarters? : ROOST.
64. '60s campus org. : SDS. Students for a Democratic Society.
65. Their Christmas feast included roast beast : WHOS. Jeffrey must love this family, as I had Cindy Lou Who two weeks ago.
1. Petruchio's request of Kate : KISS.
2. Empire whose last stronghold was conquered in 1572 : INCA. I missed the anniversary.
3. Ginger Baker specialty : DRUM SOLO. For Bruce, the late Teddy Mueller and all the others who have provided a beat to my life. WATCH (3:38)and listen.
4. Dict. entry : DEFinition. I slipped up on this for a while.
5. Ready for business no later than : OPEN BY.
6. Pizza cuts, essentially : RADII. Literally.
7. Halfway house resident : EX-CON.
8. Flash drive letters : USB. Universal Serial Bus.
9. Roi et reine, par exemple : NOBLESSE oblige. The Nobility.
10. "The drinks were on me" : I PAID. Not I-Pad.
11. Affects, as one's heartstrings : TUGS AT. Perry Como?
12. Divers' weapons : SPEARS.
17. Future yearling : FOAL. Newborn horsey.
18. Hunting lodge decoration : ANTLERS. From a dead deer.
22. Jamaican genre : SKA. Music.
24. Influence : CLOUT.
25. One taking coats, perhaps : HOST. So easy, in retrospect.
26. Used to be : WAS.
27. Tolkien terror : ORC.
31. Chanel creations : DESIGNS. From a time when hot Coco meant something.
32. Grain generally pluralized : OAT. Nobody can eat just one?
33. Ballet's Black Swan : ODILE.
35. Green workers : TRAINEES. Oh, than meaning of GREEN.
36. "Amazing Grace," e.g. : HYMN. We had a memorial service at my reunion with ended with this old stand-by.
37. Big name in pies : MRS. SMITH. What is your favorite?
38. Comic Philips : EMO.
39. Indian flatbread : NAN. 1 A or 2?
42. LAX stat : ARRival.
43. Adjustable door feature : LOUVER. We have lots of these and windows in SoFla.
44. Spooner of Spoonerism fame, for one : ALBINO. I did not know this, I went to school with two albinos, one in grammar school and one in college.
46. Walks unhurriedly : MOSEYS. Exactly my pace for solving puzzles.
47. Most fit to serve : ONE-A. The opposite of 4-F.
49. Engendered : LED TO.
50. Subjects of washday mysteries : SOCKS. What dryers live on.
51. Hollowed out : CORED.
55. Delighted by : IN TO. I am really in to JW's puzzles, I wonder if he will be back in two weeks again?
56. Quite a long time : AGES.
58. Scrap : ORT. A single oat? Not to be confused with Orc.
59. Copy cats : MEW. This is all CED needs for an hour's worth of cute kittens; enjoy all; have great holiday, be careful with the fireworks and remember to honor those who both made us free and keep us free.
It was great to be gone, see old friends and relatives, show my wife my childhood home, meet marti in person etc. but it is good to be back. Lemonade out.