Theme: This is one of the those themed puzzles where it pays to look over the clues to see if there’s a “key” clue, one that tells you something about the other theme clues. In this case, it’s 28-Across (hint to the meaning of the bracketed clues). This puzzle is loaded with theme clues.
In a puzzle like this, you’ve gotta start with the non-theme answers before going after the theme. Since the bracketed numbers are relatively short, you will probably need to get a few of them before the long hint clue will come into focus. Once you do get the idea, you’ll probably find it smooth sailing after that.
Some clue hints:
Sporty auto, for short: Keep in mind that it’s letters or a nickname (“for short”) and think brand not type of car.
Couldn’t help but: 2 words
Feudal lord: I always though this guy was lower than a lord, on bended knee, I apologize, my ________.
Climber’s goal: Yes, I though it was PEAK at first too. Same idea, different word.
Combine name: No, not a portmanteau. (Sorry, I just like that word!) They make lots of stuff that you find nearby the combine, if you had one. You know the name.
Garden pest genus: Don’t get thrown by “genus,” it’s not a weird scientific word you’ve never heard of. Just one letter (pssst, it’s the last letter) is different from the more familiar common name.
He and she: Don’t think too deep about this one. If he and she went, then _______ went.
Like some checking accounts: yeh, I thought JOINT, too, but this one is two words.
Faux fat: Faux? Give me a break. It’s synthetic, not French.