THEME: Heavy Hitter — four theme answers all end with synonym for "HITTER"
Hey everyone, welcome to another beautiful week of LAT crosswords. Let's get things started today with yet another offering from Pancho Harrison. He's prolific, and I generally find his early-to-mid-week puzzles quite smooth and entertaining. This one was no exception — in fact, it's one of my favorite easy puzzles of the year thanks to a highly original, highly colloquial theme. WHACKER PUNCHER SMACKER BOPPER. What's not to love? I love the crossing words at the center of the puzzle, because they indicate that this is the puzzle WHERE you BLEED. Please note the fill in this puzzle. When I talk about smooth, solid fill, this is what I'm talking about. Not a ton of crosswordese (there's always some), few abbreviations, few partials. Just solid words and phrases, everywhere you look. Nice mid-range fill in I'M HOME (22A: Words after "Hi, honey!") and MUPPET (51A: Fozzie Bear, e.g.) and BOOT HILL (28A: Gunfighters' graveyard) and RYE BREAD (43A: Corned beef is usually ordered on it). Love that BOOT HILL crosses the equally western BUSH WHACKER. An all-around solid puzzle.
- 17A: One who's at home on the range (COW PUNCHER)
- 10D: Oater villain who attacks from hiding (BUSH WHACKER)
- 25D: Girl idolizing a pop star, perhaps (TEENY BOPPER)
- 57A: Noisy eater (LIP SMACKER)
- 1A: Big name in copiers (MITA) — Didn't come to me right away. RICOH got into my head and wouldn't leave. Some people don't like brand names in their puzzles. I do not understand that position at all.
- 15A: Gaucho's rope (RIATA) — Sometimes REATA.
- 21A: Transvaal settler (BOER) — Northern South Africa.
- 26A: Crock-Pot potful (STEW) — Considered some kind of beans, but then went with the more obvious STEW.
- 40A: 1960s Cosby/Culp espionage series ("I SPY") — Knew this instantly, probably from doing so many crosswords. I was not yet born when this was on the air.
- 41A: Roger of "Cheers" (REES) — About as obscure a proper noun as you want on a Monday.
- 42D: Do axels and lutzes (SKATE) — Those are kinds of jumps.
- 62A: Queen played by Liz (CLEO) — The "Liz" in the clue tells you the answer is a shortened form.
- 1D: Coffee-chocolate mix (MOCHA) — Coincidentally, just before I sat down to do this puzzle, our shipment of 20 different chocolate / coffee products arrived from Costa Rica. I'm digging in as soon as I'm done with this write-up.
- 7D: Bert of "The Wizard of Oz" (LAHR) — Did you remember the spelling? You were told there would be a test...
- 18D: Horseshoe-shaped hardware (U-BOLT) — Cousin of the T-NUT and the I-BEAM.
- 30D: Fabric fuzz (lint) — I just like the clue. Makes it sound as if the answer could be "FASHION POLICE."
- 50D: Deck with a Death card (TAROT) — Amazing how common this word is, grid-wise.
Everything Else — 1A: Big name in copiers (MITA); 5A: Improvise on stage (ADLIB); 10A: Yawn-inducing speaker (BORE); 14A: "You want the light __ off?" (ONOR); 15A: Gaucho's rope (RIATA); 16A: Manipulative sort (USER); 17A: One who's at home on the range (COWPUNCHER); 19A: Venetian blind part (SLAT); 20A: Make haste (HIE); 21A: Transvaal settler (BOER); 22A: Words after "Hi, honey!" (IMHOME); 24A: Counting everything (ALLTOLD); 26A: Crock-Pot potful (STEW); 27A: Antiquity, once (ELD); 28A: Gunfighters' graveyard (BOOTHILL); 32A: Boneless cut (FILET); 35A: Jean Auel's "The __ of the Cave Bear" (CLAN); 36A: 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit (ADIA); 37A: Boatloads (ATON); 38A: In what place (WHERE); 39A: Penny (CENT); 40A: 1960s Cosby/Culp espionage series (ISPY); 41A: Roger of "Cheers" (REES); 42A: Do axels and lutzes (SKATE); 43A: Corned beef is usually ordered on it (RYEBREAD); 45A: Payable (DUE); 46A: Throw out of office (OUST); 47A: Take back, as a public statement (RETRACT); 51A: Fozzie Bear, e.g. (MUPPET); 54A: Litigant (SUER); 55A: Org. that sticks to its guns? (NRA); 56A: At the peak of (ATOP); 57A: Noisy eater (LIPSMACKER); 60A: Doily material (LACE); 61A: Clear the chalkboard (ERASE); 62A: Queen played by Liz (CLEO); 63A: Norse thunder god (THOR); 64A: Patch the lawn, in a way (RESOD); 65A: Labor Day mo. (SEPT); 1D: Coffee-chocolate mix (MOCHA); 2D: How some tuna is packed (INOIL); 3D: Beach drier (TOWEL); 4D: Dada pioneer Jean (ARP); 5D: Governor Schwarzenegger (ARNOLD); 6D: Cut into cubes (DICED); 7D: Bert of "The Wizard of Oz" (LAHR); 8D: Suffix with Canaan (ITE); 9D: Voice between bass and tenor (BARITONE); 10D: Oater villain who attacks from hiding (BUSHWHACKER); 11D: Norway's capital (OSLO); 12D: Paper quantity (REAM); 13D: Art Deco designer (ERTE); 18D: Horseshoe-shaped hardware (UBOLT); 23D: "Have we __?" (MET); 25D: Girl idolizing a pop star, perhaps (TEENYBOPPER); 26D: Uses a hang glider (SOARS); 28D: Run, as colors in the wash (BLEED); 29D: Thought (IDEA); 30D: Fabric fuzz (LINT); 31D: Not punctual (LATE); 32D: Light-skinned (FAIR); 33D: __-bitsy (ITSY); 34D: Easy gait (LOPE); 35D: Use crib notes (CHEAT); 38D: Andre the Giant, e.g. (WRESTLER); 42D: Kama __ (SUTRA); 44D: Regret (RUE); 45D: Considered (DEEMED); 47D: Rene of "Tin Cup" (RUSSO); 48D: Bracelet site (ANKLE); 49D: Advance slowly (CREEP); 50D: Deck with a Death card (TAROT); 51D: Ice cream drink (MALT); 52D: Great Salt Lake state (UTAH); 53D: Somewhat, in music (POCO); 54D: Sauna sites (SPAS); 58D: Rage (IRE); 59D: IV amounts (CCS).