Theme: "Signs of Burnout" — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the word ash hidden in them.
[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]
- 23A: Dramatic device about which Hamlet says "The play's the thing ..." (SHOW WITHIN A SHOW).
- 37A: Kindness simile (SWEET AS HONEY).
- 53A: Rare key in which a section of Chopin's "Polonaise Fantaisie" is written (A SHARP MINOR).
- 72A: World Series of Poker Main Event game (TEXAS HOLD 'EM).
- 87A: California's first lady (MARIA SHRIVER).
- 105A: Open one's law office, say (HANG OUT A SHINGLE).
- 17D: Easily become angered (HAVE A SHORT FUSE).
- 46D: 2000 Martin Lawrence/Nia Long comedy (BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE).
- 80A: Sign of burnout hidden in eight puzzle answers (ASH).
Stuff that jumped out at me today:
- 29A: Star responsible for eclipsing Venus? (SERENA). Were you tricked by this? Or is it soon enough after the U.S. Open that you got it right away?
- 30A: North Carolina university (ELON). Not to be confused with England's ETON, which also appears in crosswords quite a bit.
- 44A: Ed who wrote "87th Precinct" novels (MCBAIN). If you say so.
- 49A: Territory that became two states (DAKOTA). Cleverly named North Dakota and South Dakota. South Dakota is the one with Mt. Rushmore. North Dakota is the one with ... nothing.
- 59A: H-bomb trial, e.g. (N-TEST). Is there a difference between an N-TEST, an A-test and an H-test?
- 61A: Lunar Asian holiday (TET). Remember when we covered this in CW101?
- 66A: Big name in nonstick cookware (T-FAL). I originally entered K-FAL. I think I was thinking of K-Fed. Which is weird because I never do that.
- 67A: It starts with enero (AÑO). Big, big controversy about this little word in crossword constructor circles. Some maintain that Ñ is a completely different letter than N and should not be used. Others say, we use letters with diacritical marks all the time, so what's the diff? Well, in this case the word with and without the tilde are very different words. Año means year and ano means a part of the anatomy that is not appropriate to talk about here. It's a family show, people.
- 90A: Letters before a trade name (DBA). Stands for Doing Business As.
- 94A: "The Mod Squad" role (LINC). Loved this show when I was a kid. This was on around the same time as Room 222, if I remember correctly.
- 109A: Instrument shaker at the end of a minstrel troupe (MR. TAMBO). Just learned this recently when MR. BONES showed up in a New York Times puzzle and Rex explained it all over at his blog. I seem to recall that older folks got this answer quite easily and the younger ones were clueless.
- 111A: Bridge bid, briefly (ONE NO). I don't play bridge, but I think this means "one no trump." Any bridge players out there?
- 15D: Jazzman known as "Fatha" (HINES). Interesting! Usually we see Fatha in the grid instead of in the clue.
- 39D: Blue Moon of '60s-'70s baseball (ODOM). He was a good player, but the most interesting thing I could find about him is his name.
- 41D: "Gymnopédies" composer (SATIE). We covered him a couple months ago in CW101.
- 49D: Jerk (DOPE). Jerk and dope have two completely different meanings to me, but it was easy enough to get the answer anyway.
- 65D: Elec. letters (AC/DC).
- 84D: Torn off forcibly (AVULSED). Pretty sure I've never seen this word before. I'm guessing it's totally fair though.
- 89D: Gymnast Mary Lou of Olympics fame (RETTON). I believe she was the first female athlete to be featured on a Wheaties box.
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Everything Else — 1A: Deferred payment at the bar (RAN A TAB); 8A: Flies over Africa? (TSE-TSES); 15A: Alternatives to Twinkies (HOHOS); 20A: "Cool!" (AWESOME); 21A: Upgrades the factory (RETOOLS); 22A: Pocatelloís state (IDAHO); 25A: Work of fiction (NOVEL); 26A: Type sizes (PICAS); 27A: Made, as a basket (WOVE); 28A: Soak (up) (SOP); 31A: Pick (SELECT); 33A: Pandora's boxful (ILLS); 35A: Missile's path (ARC); 36A: Site of an impromptu nap (DEN); 40A: "... so long __ both shall live?" (AS YE); 41A: Extends across (SPANS); 42A: Line of bushes (HEDGE); 43A: Regal initials (HRH); 47A: Loving: Prefix (PHILO-); 52A: Highest class (ELITE); 57A: Grammar school basics, briefly (RRR); 58A: Kelly's co-host (REGIS); 60A: Back of the neck (NAPE); 62A: Broadway auntie (MAME); 63A: Concerning (ANENT); 64A: Enjoy a hot tub (BATHE); 68A: Sch. near the Rio Grande (UTEP); 69A: Peru's __ Picchu (MACHU); 70A: Unrefined oil (CRUDE); 71A: Suffix with real (-ISM); 75A: Gets licked (LOSES); 76A: Put down (DEMEAN); 78A: Prefix meaning "spiral" (HELIC); 79A: Fizzles (out) (PETERS); 81A: "__ fired!" (YOU'RE); 83A: Vaughan of jazz (SARAH); 85A: Siberian metropolis (OMSK); 93A: "Well, __-di-dah" (LAH); 95A: Ready to be driven (TEED UP); 96A: "Buenos __" (DIAS); 97A: Dangerous compound in Agent Orange (DIOXIN); 99A: General Arnold of WWII (HAP); 102A: PC key below Shift (CTRL); 103A: Frenzied (MANIC); 104A: Vertical (PLUMB); 108A: Chorus platform (RISER); 110A: Made of clay (EARTHEN); 112A: Black Sea port dweller (ODESSAN); 113A: Unemotional (DRY-EYED); 1D: Spoke like Don Corleone (RASPED); 2D: Not long, timewise (AWHILE); 3D: Recent rightist (NEOCON); 4D: Nile dam site (ASWAN); 5D: Hauls to the shop (TOWS); 6D: "Who __ to argue?" (AM I); 7D: ___ a rock and a hard place (BETWEEN); 8D: Hot-dish holder (TRIVET); 9D: Iroquois Confederacy member (SENECA); 11D: Throw easily (TOSS); 12D: Trendy London area (SOHO); 13D: Marrying on the sly (ELOPING); 14D: Cincinnati-to-Nashville dir. (SSW); 16D: Febreze target (ODOR); 18D: Short story writer known for irony (O. HENRY); 19D: Comforting words (SOLACE); 24D: Green targets (HOLES); 29D: Conniving (SLY); 31D: Ballet bird (SWAN); 32D: Rock concert memento (T-SHIRT); 34D: 1862 Bull Run victor (LEE); 37D: Undercover agents (SPIES); 38D: Lend a hand (HELP); 40D: Subject of Indiana Jones's quest (ARK); 43D: Fabled napper (HARE); 44D: Disney's Ariel, e.g. (MERMAID); 45D: Make pure (CLEANSE); 47D: Fen-__: withdrawn diet-drug combo (PHEN); 48D: Dost possess (HAST); 50D: One staying afloat in place (TREADER); 51D: Lacking guile (ARTLESS); 53D: Building addition (ANNEX); 54D: First instruction (STEP A); 55D: Words before black or red (IN THE); 56D: Book after Micah (NAHUM); 63D: "... two fives for __?" (A TEN); 64D: Island east of Java (BALI); 66D: Marriage promise (TROTH); 68D: Bonneville Flats state (UTAH); 69D: Harass (MOLEST); 70D: Fair, in forecasts (CLEAR); 73D: Feng __ (SHUI); 74D: Wife of Zeus (HERA); 77D: Alas. native (ESK.); 79D: Scrub up, say (PREP); 81D: PBS chef Martin (YAN); 82D: Fruit tree grouping (ORCHARD); 83D: Libya's Gulf of __ (SIDRA); 85D: Veteran (OLD PRO); 86D: Submit with a stamp (MAIL IN); 87D: Hr. part (MIN.); 88D: Queen of Troy (HECUBA); 90D: Lake fisherman's boat (DINGHY); 91D: Receiver of property, in law (BAILEE); 92D: Climb (ASCEND); 94D: Book, in Bologna (LIBRO); 96D: Beatrice's admirer (DANTE); 98D: Mutant superhero group of comics (X-MEN); 100D: Kitty starter (ANTE); 101D: Annual major golf tournaments played in August, familiarly (PGAS); 103D: Boglike (MIRY); 105D: Med. care group (HMO); 106D: Mantric sounds (OMS); 107D: Guffaw syllable (HAR).