Theme: "The Ultimate Sandwich" — Theme answers have the letter string NTH (as in "the nth degree") hidden (sandwiched) 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.]
- 24A: Course covering the Roman Empire, perhaps (ANCIENT HISTORY).
- 34A: Pentathlon event (JAVELIN THROW).
- 51A: Rehearse quickly (RUN THROUGH).
- 59A: "Under Milk Wood" playwright (DYLAN THOMAS).
- 77A: Malfunctioned (WENT HAYWIRE).
- 89A: Gardener's gift (GREEN THUMB).
- 102A: One of the Seven Sisters colleges (MOUNT HOLYOKE).
- 121A: College accommodations (STUDENT HOUSING).
- 123D: Ultimate degree hidden in eight puzzle answers (NTH).
Puzzle? Oh, okay. I was cruising through this puzzle when I realized I had no idea what the theme was. I had, like, three long answers that looked like they should be theme answers, but I couldn't remember seeing a wacky clue or thinking very hard about them or anything, which is unusual for Sunday theme answers. So I looked at the puzzle's title again to see if I could figure it out (remember, the Sunday puzzle has a title that can help with the theme). Et voilà! It actually helped. I can't tell you how many times I go looking for a title on a Monday-through-Saturday puzzle. I keep hoping it will be there, but no. But today because the title had the word "sandwich" in it, I figured there was something "sandwiched" between the two words and it was pretty easy from there. Speaking of the theme ...
Theme answers are not very exciting (although WENT HAYWIRE is pretty cool), but I thought it was fun trying to come up with them without crosses once I knew to think about the NTH.
To a lesser degree:
- 7A: Like the best straight, in poker (ACE HIGH). I have clearly not been playing enough poker lately. I'm all "Is there such a thing as a royal straight?" But I did get DEAL IN (93A: Include, at the poker table) easy enough, so maybe I redeemed myself.
- 22A: Scams (BUNCOS). I thought BUNCO was just a game that gives housewives an opportunity to get drunk.
- 42A: Jazz singer Anderson (IVIE). Only know her from crosswords. I'm sure she's lovely.
- 48A: Chaos (BEDLAM). To my surprise, PuzzleSon used the word mayhem the other day. Good word.
- 50A: Slangy "OK" ("YEH"). Ooh ... do not like the spelling here. We've talked about it before, right? The proper spelling of this particular word is yeah.
- 95A: NC State's gp. (ACC). Atlantic Coast Conference? Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
- 100A: Nobelist Morrison (TONI). I missed the conversation about Toni Morrison over at Rex's recently, so I'll take this opportunity to plug my favorite Morrison novel, The Bluest Eye.
- 127A: Horseplay sounds? (SNORTS). Not horseplay as you usually think of it, but horseplay with real horses. Thus the question mark.
- 4D: Old movie house staple (NEWS REEL).
- 5D: Canine coat? (ENAMEL). Canine the tooth, not canine the dog.
- 14D: Slightly more than one can tolerate (A BIT MUCH). Fun, colloquial phrase.
- 34D: Were in accord (JIBED). I hope none of you tried to enter jived. Totally different things.
- 64D: %#&!#! ones (SO-AND-SOS). Speaking of colloquial, this is awesome.
- 90D: Digressions (TANGENTS). Hmm ... what's a tangent? Merriam-Webster online says it's "diverging from an original purpose or course (tangent remarks)." Glad I don't know anybody who does That.
- 101D: "Turn it up, please" (LOUDER).
- 105D: John with a colorful wardrobe (ELTON). Not that there's anything wrong with that.
- 114D: Arlington's state: Abbr. (VIRG.). I really, really hate to end on a downer note, but this is the ugliest abbreviation for Virginia I've ever seen. VA, okay. Va., still okay. Vir., close to the line but acceptable. VIRG.? No. Just no.
Other crosswordese in today's puzzle that we've already covered includes: ENA (57A: Bambi's aunt), REO (85A: Vintage auto), ELOI (3D: "The Time Machine" race), and AGHA (63D: Turkish general).
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Everything Else — 1A: Place to surf (THE NET); 14A: Creature that divides to multiply (AMOEBA); 20A: One-named Tejano singer (SELENA); 21A: Cure-all (PANACEA); 23A: Like hawks, vis-à-vis doves (PRO-WAR); 26A: Earthquake (SEISM); 27A: Pilot (FLIER); 28A: "You're not telling the truth!" ("THAT'S A LIE!"); 29A: White Rose __-Tea, first instant iced tea (REDI); 31A: Take pieces from? (DISARM); 33A: Noodge (PEST); 40A: Service station job (LUBE); 43A: Post with planes (AIRBASE); 44A: __ Raton, Florida (BOCA); 45A: Cut grass (MOW); 54A: Important time (ERA); 55A: Gods' drink (NECTAR); 58A: British county (SHIRE); 62A: Lunes y martes, e.g. (DIAS); 65A: Small songbird (WREN); 66A: Mother of the Titans (GAEA); 67A: "I've been __!" (HAD); 69A: Attend (GO TO); 71A: Deity skilled at archery (AMOR); 74A: Wealthy (RICH); 83A: Toon skunk Pepé (LEPEW); 87A: __ Sebastian Bach (JOHANN); 88A: Lux. neighbor (GER.); 92A: Org. with a longstanding journal (AMA); 96A: "Diamonds & Rust" singer Joan (BAEZ); 97A: Starts (ADVENTS); 101A: Turner on screen (LANA); 104A: Bank-confiscated auto, briefly (REPO); 107A: Reach rudely for (GRAB AT); 110A: Pronto, in memos (ASAP); 111A: Hints at (ALLUDES TO); 113A: Poland Spring competitor (EVIAN); 117A: Bandleader's cry (HIT IT); 123A: "Driver carries __": robbery deterrent (NO CASH); 124A: Like a stiff drink (POTENT); 125A: Operative, as a rule (IN FORCE); 126A: Psychologist's concern (TRAUMA); 128A: Vegas light source (NEON GAS); 129A: __-skelter (HELTER); 1D: Recipe amts. (TSPS.); 2D: "__ we go again!" (HERE); 6D: Paving goo (TAR); 7D: "C'mon, be __!": "Help me!" (A PAL); 8D: Child's plea (CAN I); 9D: Suffix with defer (-ENCE); 10D: Coifs (HAIRDOS); 11D: Sprain treatment (ICE); 12D: Classy fellows (GENTS); 13D: __ yoga (HATHA); 15D: Dishevel (MUSS); 16D: Recorded with a VCR (ON TAPE); 17D: French school (ECOLE); 18D: Tennis great Becker (BORIS); 19D: So far (AS YET); 25D: "Portia is Brutus' __, not his wife": Shak. (HARLOT); 27D: All done, in Verdun (FINI); 30D: Radius times two (DIAMETER); 32D: "If __ a Rich Man" (I WERE); 35D: Big name in labels (AVERY); 36D: Gore who wrote "Lincoln" (VIDAL); 37D: "__ see it my way ...": Beatles lyric (TRY TO); 38D: Letter-shaped girder (H-BEAM); 39D: Enthusiastic (RAH-RAH); 41D: It's bad to be behind them (BARS); 44D: __ B'rith (B'NAI); 45D: Naturalist John (MUIR); 46D: Fairy tale beast (OGRE); 47D: Invitation word (WHEN); 49D: "The King and I" teacher (ANNA); 52D: Berlin conjunction (UND); 53D: "I'm amazed!" ("OH WOW!"); 56D: Indian tea (CHAI); 60D: Go along (AGREE); 61D: Noticed (SAW); 68D: "This seems familiar" feeling (DÉJÀ-VU); 71D: Pond organism (ALGA); 72D: Hired soldier, briefly (MERC); 73D: Crude cartel (OPEC); 75D: Cross, in Cádiz (CRUZ); 76D: Garment border (HEM); 78D: Ladies' club policy (NO MEN); 79D: U __, '60s UN secretary general (THANT); 80D: White house? (IGLOO); 81D: Freshen, as a stamp pad (REINK); 82D: Banks of baseball (ERNIE); 84D: Ladies' hoops gp. (WNBA); 86D: "Dreams From My Father" memoirist (OBAMA); 91D: West Coast castle builder (HEARST); 94D: Not ordinary (ATYPICAL); 98D: Spoils, as a grandchild (DOTES ON); 99D: Holier-__-thou (THAN); 103D: Pakistan's second-largest city (LAHORE); 104D: Woodworking files (RASPS); 106D: Demoted planet (PLUTO); 108D: Dylan's "Ballad of __ Man" (A THIN); 109D: Wilderness Road pioneer (BOONE); 112D: Fender damage (DENT); 115D: Andean of yore (INCA); 116D: Mighty long time (AGES); 118D: Stretched tight (TAUT); 119D: "Woe __!" (IS ME); 120D: Whaler's direction (THAR); 122D: ET carrier (UFO).