THEME: Phrases that are "Overheard at the Pub" are slurred drunkenly, turning an SS sound into an SH sound
Crosswordese 101: Hey, look at that! An official member of the old-school crosswordese clan appears in this puzzle—78A: Currency exchange fee (AGIO). You know you're dealing with hard-core crosswordese when the first two dictionary sources you check don't have the word. Time to pull out the ol' Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd Edition to shed some light. The third definition explains the purpose of AGIO: "an allowance given or taken on bills of exchange from other countries, as to balance exchange expenses." It's from an Italian word. You will likely see this word about once a year in the crossword but nowhere else. Two other crosswordese words occupy the same region in my brain. TARE is frequently clued as container weight, and you're using this concept when the supermarket self-checkout asks what sort of container your bananas are in so it can deduct that weight rather than charging you by the pound for a bag. TRET is an old word meaning waste allowance after deduction for tare.
- 24A: Nearly matching outfit's problem? (A TOUCH OF CLASH).
- 47A: Wild zebra party? (STRIPED BASH).
- 71A: Basket weaving operation? (MESHY BUSINESS). I'm docking this answer one point for having an unchanged SS at the end of BUSINESS. What, the pub denizen sobered up mid-sentence?
- 94A: Ski house that rustles in the wind? (SWISH CHALET). This could also have been clued with reference to the SWISH of a basketball dropping into the net.
- 118A: Washington nonsense? (POLITICAL BOSH).
- 3D: Frenzy over a 1970s-'80s sitcom? (M*A*S*H HYSTERIA). I like this one.
- 67D: Assertive simians? (BRASH MONKEYS). I had no idea that the phrase "brass monkeys" related to cold weather, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Wikipedia tells us that "The term brass monkey would refer to the support arms for the Kelvin spheres which were constructed of brass or other non-magnetic material, monkey being an archaic mechanical term to describe an adjustable support or arm," but in England they like their brass simians too.
- 30A: Play-__ (DOH). The cluing options were basically this half-answer or Homer Simpson's "D'oh!"
- 31A: Sleep lab subject (INSOMNIAC). I know a couple people who struggle with insomnia, and it bites.
- 34A: Vibrations (TREMORS). Have you seen that movie? It's a B-movie classic! Here, I'll save you some time—just watch the trailer:
- 98A: Betrays, as a spouse (TWO-TIMES). It's sad when it happens in life, but awesome when the term lands in a crossword grid.
- 102A: Dominican diamond family name (ALOU). Moises Alou played for the Cubs a few years back. He's related to Felipe and Matty.
- 108A: Bummed (SCROUNGED). As in bumming a ride or a cigarette, not as in feeling bummed out.
- 4D: "Airplane!" automatic pilot (OTTO). He was the inflatable guy in the pilot's seat.
- 5D: Perfection symbol (TEN). I had the T from LAMOTTA right away, but I first went with TEE as the answer, as in "fits me to a tee." Mind you, perfection symbol would be a dreadful clue for TEE. A perfect TEN? Much better. I don't know about you, but often the clues that addled me the most are among my favorites.
- 8D: Noxious influence (MIASMA). I love this word.
- 16D: Capital ESE of Kabul (ISLAMABAD). That's in Pakistan. I'm a sucker for long place names showing up in a crossword.
- 48D: Where to see piggies? (TOOTSIES). Slang for toes and feet.
- 15D: Architectural column base (SOCLE). I don't think this counts as crosswordese because if it did, I'd probably recall having seen it before.
- 117D: George of the Jungle's pet elephant (SHEP). Really? I know Shep as that blond paramedic Nurse Hathaway dated on ER ages ago. Let me Google that...yeah, Ron Eldard.
Everything Else — 1A: De Niro's "Raging Bull" role (LAMOTTA); 8A: Herodís fortress (MASADA); 14A: "I can't be the only one thinking this" (ISITME); 20A: Hustler's target (AMATEUR); 21A: Emcees' deliveries (INTROS); 22A: "Sorry" (NOSOAP); 23A: 32-Down player (COSTNER); 26A: Repeat (ECHO); 27A: Assimilate (ABSORB); 29A: Name in B-29 lore (ENOLA); 38A: Lock inventor Linus (YALE); 40A: Zany Martha (RAYE); 41A: Popular Apple (IMAC); 43A: Inter __ (ALIA); 44A: Chooses not to accept (PASSESON); 50A: Terrestrial salamanders (EFTS); 51A: Shade of gray (STEEL); 54A: Natl. Pizza Month (OCT); 55A: Tangle (RAVEL); 56A: Petition (PLEAD); 58A: Trinidad partner (TOBAGO); 60A: Muscular (TONED); 63A: Outcast (PARIAH); 65A: Amo, amas, __ (AMAT); 66A: Tonsillitis-treating MDs (ENTS); 67A: Catch (BAG); 70A: Brit. recording giant (EMI); 75A: Play with robots (RUR); 76A: Actor Stephen (REA); 77A: Prefix with -cardium (PERI); 79A: Zippo filler (BUTANE); 81A: Light in the kitchen (PILOT); 82A: Taken for (SEENAS); 85A: Grade school goop (PASTE); 86A: Ice dams may form in them (EAVES); 89A: Ran into (MET); 91A: Full (SATED); 93A: Cleft site (CHIN); 100A: "Fisherman with __": Bazille painting (ANET); 101A: Colonel or captain (RANK); 105A: Sidekick played by Bruce Lee in '60s TV (KATO); 106A: "Romanoff and Juliet" playwright Peter (USTINOV); 111A: Stamp on a bad check (NSF); 114A: Church law (CANON); 116A: Point of maximum Earth-moon separation (APOGEE); 117A: Black & Decker rival (SKIL); 122A: Unlikely protagonist (NONHERO); 125A: Political pundit Myers (DEEDEE); 126A: Web communications protocol (TELNET); 127A: Steak orders (RIBEYES); 128A: "Gunsmoke" star (ARNESS); 129A: Ukrainian port (ODESSA); 130A: Goes by (ELAPSES); 1D: Tied (LACED); 2D: BP merger partner (AMOCO); 6D: Calendar abbr. (TUE); 7D: Rich tapestry (ARRAS); 9D: Shakespeare title lover (ANTONY); 10D: Levels (STORIES); 11D: Caribbean resort island (ARUBA); 12D: Dopey friend? (DOC); 13D: Tennis legend (ASHE); 14D: Like current regulations (INFORCE); 15D: Architectural column base (SOCLE); 17D: __ degree (TOA); 18D: More, to Miguel (MAS); 19D: Bk. after Galatians (EPH); 25D: Ready in the keg (ONTAP); 28D: Brunei's island (BORNEO); 31D: Martinique, e.g. (ILE); 32D: Capone harasser (NESS); 33D: Newspaper no. (CIRC); 35D: Norwegian saint (OLAV); 36D: High ground (RISE); 37D: Comedian Mort (SAHL); 39D: Very, to Vivaldi (ASSAI); 42D: Two-part glove (MITTEN); 44D: Sneeze inducer (PEPPER); 45D: Blazing (AFLAME); 46D: Polo Grounds star (OTT); 49D: Prepare for the prom (DRESSUP); 52D: Modern bazaar (EBAY); 53D: Rake over the coals (LAMBASTE); 57D: Somewhat wet (DAMPISH); 59D: Measuring device (GAUGE); 61D: Small bill (ONE); 62D: Fed. accident investigator (NTSB); 64D: Louse (HEEL); 68D: Mame, to Patrick (AUNTIE); 69D: Links targets (GREENS); 72D: Full house sign (SRO); 73D: One with a take-out order? (HITMAN); 74D: New Rochelle college (IONA); 80D: Implied (TACIT); 81D: Dust gun output (PESTICIDE); 83D: Adjust (ATTUNE); 84D: Do some needling (SEW); 86D: Birthright seller (ESAU); 87D: Botanical bristles (AWNS); 88D: __ Cong (VIET); 90D: Big bucks (ELKS); 92D: Okey-__ (DOKE); 95D: Buds (CRONIES); 96D: Serious disorder (HAVOC); 97D: Atlantic sport fish (TARPONS); 99D: Little bit (TAD); 103D: Unties (LOOSES); 104D: "You __ Know": Alanis Morissette hit (OUGHTA); 107D: The NBA's Archibald et al. (NATES); 109D: Coax, for instance (CABLE); 110D: History or mystery (GENRE); 112D: "Yes __!" (SIREE); 113D: Dentist's advice (FLOSS); 115D: Intl. alliance since 1949 (NATO); 118D: Hi-tech organizer (PDA); 119D: 'Neath opposite (OER); 120D: Quarterback Dawson (LEN); 121D: Set the pace (LED); 123D: "Starry Night," for one (OIL); 124D: Wizards' gp. (NBA).