Theme: "Midafternoons" — The abbreviation for afternoon, P.M., is found in the middle of the theme answers. (132D: Times of day hidden in eight puz. answers (PMS)).
[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at the cruciverb.com website.]
- 23A: Temporary solution (STOPGAP MEASURE).
- 54A: Controversial excavation method (STRIP MINING).
- 94A: Key equivalent to B-flat (A-SHARP MAJOR).
- 130A: It can help you organize windows and wallpaper (DESKTOP MANAGER).
- 17D: Startling Stories, e.g. (PULP MAGAZINE).
- 29D: One making a large withdrawal? (HOLDUP MAN).
- 66D: Maker of Marlboro (PHILIP MORRIS).
- 68D: Laptop power saver (SLEEP MODE).
Not a super ambitious theme today, but once I understood what was going on, it did help me figure out the rest of the theme answers, all of which I thought were pretty decent theme entries except for HOLDUP MAN, which just doesn't do a thing for me. The whole puzzle went down pretty smooth except for Northern California where, if I had done the downs first I'm pretty sure I would have come up with SALINE, but I had a few wrong acrosses in there already which made it invisible to me. I didn't know NAHUATL (73A: Uto-Aztecan tongue) or EILAT (85A: Israeli port city). To add to the confusion I had HIP TO instead of HEP TO for 99A: Aware of. So you can see why I had some trouble there.
I would have appreciated the golf mini-theme more if I had heard of more than one of the three answers: LATROBE (26A: Arnold Palmer's Pennsylvania birthplace — who knew?), HOSEL (31A: Golf iron socket — huh?), and MASTERS (137A: Annual Georgia tournament, with "The" — okay, got that one).
As you might know, I'm in Costa Rica right now vacationing for 12 days (but who's counting?) with my kids and parents. Actually, now that I think about it when a stay-at-home mom takes a trip with her kids, can that really be considered a vacation? Yeah, I didn't think so. Anyway. We come down here at least once a year and we spend most of our time reading books and eating really good food. Except for the kids, who also spend a lot of time swimming, surfing, and boogie-boarding. I'm reading a book right now that I'm dying to get back to, so I might shortchange you a little bit today. Hope you understand. I mean, this book is just sitting right here and it's so good it's about killing me not to be reading it. Also, it's 562 pages, so I really do need to stay after it.
- 14A: Charts with axes (GRAPHS). Axes in this case is the plural of axis, not the chopping tool.
- 34A: W, vis-à-vis E (OPP). W(est) and E(ast) are OPP(osites).
- 36A: Money pile?: Abbr. (MSS). Money is the name of a magazine; MSs is an abbreviation for manuscripts. So, the magazine probably has piles of manuscripts lying around. Someone correct me if I got that completely wrong, but that's how I understood it.
- 39A: Govt. division (DOJ). Wanted something more generic here.
- 44A: Year in Augustus' reign (ONE BC). Thought this was going to be our RRN (Random Roman Numeral) of the day, but it sure looked like too many letters for a year that had to have been a long time ago! Never fear though, our RRN shows up at 79A: CCX x V + I (MLI), where I initially had MCI because (a) apparently I'm not very good at math, and (b) it didn't occur to me that MCI wouldn't be clued as an RRN.
- 47A: Political payoff (SOP). I do not know what this means.
- 51A: Goneril's victim (REGAN). Sure it sounds like an STD and a former president, but no, it's Shakespeare! (Specifically, King Lear!)
- 60A: Half of Bennifer (J-LO). At first, I entered BEN. Yes, I did. Yes, I can see how dumb that is. I realized it almost immediately.
- 64A: Old Boston Garden nickname (ESPO). Since it wasn't "Basketball Jesus," I knew it must be a hockey player and "The Great One" is the only one I could come up with for a while. ESPO is, of course, Hockey Hall-of-Famer Phil Esposito.
- 82A: Nautical ladder rung (RATLINE). Whatever you say.
- 93A: Kung __ chicken (PAO). Not a fan of the General Tso's, so I'm happy to see Kung Pao get a little love today.
- 106A: French military cap (KEPI). That might be a French cap, but it sure doesn't look like a French word.
- 2D: B.C. neighbor (ALTA.). Learned this abbreviation for crosswords. It looks totally wrong to me. There really needs to be a B in there somewhere.
- 8D: Actress Tatum (O'NEAL). One of my favorite movie scenes of all time.
- 16D: Phrase indicating small progress (A TO B). Parsing!
- 45D: Exquisite gem (BIJOU). Sounds like a movie theater to me.
- 53D: Headlands (NESSES). Again, I do not know what this means.
- 83D: Classic toothpaste (IPANA). Learned it from "Grease."
- 88D: Parents (FOLKS). Was only thinking of parents as a verb here, so it took a while to come into focus.
- 110D: State of Grace? (MONACO). As in Grace Kelly.
- 121D: Korean border river (YALU). I'm hopeless with the European rivers, so you can bet a lot of money I'm not going to know any in Korea.
Pura Vida, PuzzleGirl
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Everything Else — 1A: Mollusk shell materials (NACRES); 7A: "Piece of cake" ("NO SWEAT"); 20A: Maintain (ALLEGE); 21A: What a stalwart won't give? (ONE INCH); 22A: Liturgy (RITUAL); 25A: Harlem theater (APOLLO); 27A: "Lemme __!" (AT 'EM); 28A: Physicist with a law (OHM); 30A: Fraternal org. (BPOE); 32A: Do not disturb (LET BE); 37A: With 81-Down, game played on a three-walled court (JAI); 41A: Hardly an idler (DOER); 42A: Title woman about whom Clapton sings "You've got me on my knees" (LAYLA); 49A: Felt contrite about (RUED); 58A: Not sing. (PLU.); 59A: Bit of folk wisdom (ADAGE); 61A: Erotic god (AMOR); 62A: Recipe meas. (TSP.); 63A: Pencil puzzles (MAZES); 67A: Like horseshoes (U-SHAPED); 70A: Both: Pref. (AMBI-); 72A: Connections (INS); 75A: Capital of Yemen (SANAA); 77A: Not too soft (AL DENTE); 80A: Long-necked runner (RHEA); 84A: Court period: Abbr. (SESS.); 87A: Fantasy sprite (ELF); 89A: "Sleepy Hollow" actor (DEPP); 90A: "Say what?" sounds (EHS); 92A: Piques (SNITS); 100A: In the 60s, say (MILD); 102A: Chemical suffix (-ANE); 103A: Shortsighted one (MYOPE); 104A: Snapple's __ Madness (MANGO); 111A: Whammy (HEX); 112A: USCG rank (CPO); 114A: Jupiter, e.g. (GOD); 115A: East German secret police (STASI); 117A: Violinist's aid (ROSIN); 120A: Not stifling (AIRY); 122A: 109-Across charge (FEE); 124A: Emerald Isle (ERIN); 125A: Woozy (IN A DAZE); 128A: Low-level clouds (STRATI); 133A: Puts on ice (CHILLS); 134A: Best (OPTIMUM); 135A: It's fixed by a bank (CD RATE); 136A: Per se (AS SUCH); 138A: La Scala offerings (OPERAS); 1D: Pelé's org. (NASL); 3D: One concerned with duds? (CLOTHIER); 4D: Printer's proof (REPRO); 5D: Toaster waffles (EGGOS); 6D: Lobster habitat (SEABED); 7D: __ de plume (NOM); 9D: Not off one's rocker? (SEATED); 10D: Not tricked by (WISE TO); 11D: Digital food additive code used in Europe (E-NUMBER); 12D: Horiz. (ACR.); 13D: Kojak, to friends (THEO); 14D: Family nickname (GRAMPA); 15D: Pants problem (RIP); 18D: Saintly rings (HALOS); 19D: Tart fruit (SLOES); 24D: Speaker since 2007 (PELOSI); 33D: Blow one's stack (ERUPT); 35D: Giza attraction (PYRAMID); 37D: "__ Boys": Alcott novel (JO'S); 38D: Colony resident (ANT); 40D: Whale of a guy? (JONAH); 43D: Yeats's "__ and the Swan" (LEDA); 46D: Rank above Pfc. (CPL.); 48D: Early Arizona natives (PIMAS); 50D: Joy Adamson lioness (ELSA); 52D: Bond and others (AGENTS); 55D: Sass, with "off" (MOUTH); 56D: Stock phrase (NO PAR); 57D: Caribbean nation (GRENADA); 64D: Tangle up (ENMESH); 65D: Intravenous solution (SALINE); 69D: Goes out with (DATES); 71D: Censor's insert (BLEEP); 74D: Schubert vocal work (ART SONG); 76D: First in a series (ALPHA); 78D: Think piece (ESSAY); 81D: See 37-Across (ALAI); 91D: "I wonder ..." ("HMM..."); 95D: Spruce up again, as a hedge (RETRIM); 96D: "Sands of Iwo Jima" costar (JOHN AGAR); 97D: Unveil, in poems (OPE); 98D: T. __ (REX); 101D: Can't abide (DETESTS); 105D: Simple card game (GO FISH); 107D: "Sit!" ("PARK IT!"); 108D: "Am I the only one?" ("IS IT ME?"); 112D: First to stab Caesar (CASCA); 113D: Cores (PITHS); 116D: "__ Time": Hemingway work (IN OUR); 118D: Wall St. "500" (S AND P); 119D: "Do __ to eat a peach?": Eliot (I DARE); 123D: Ancient Dead Sea land (EDOM); 126D: Sixth Greek letter (ZETA); 127D: "__ Tu": 1974 hit (ERES); 129D: Tot's need, often (TLC); 131D: Govt. emissions watchdog (EPA).