Theme: "Waiting for 12-Across" — Theme answers (and grid design!) are all related to that great mythical figure, The Great Pumpkin.
[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.]
- 12A: This puzzle's honoree (THE GREAT PUMPKIN).
- 27A: Strip where 12-Across first didn't appear in 1959 (PEANUTS).
- 43A: When 25-Down expects 12-Across to appear (HALLOWEEN).
- 56A: Characteristic 18-Down cry regarding 12-Across (OH GOOD GRIEF).
- 79A: 12-Across creator (SCHULZ).
- 82A: Dog once mistaken for 12-Across (SNOOPY).
- 102A: 25-Down maintained them annually (VIGILS).
- 104A: 12-Across tested 25-Down's faith by being one, inevitably, every year (NO SHOW).
- 18D: Friend of 25-Down (CHARLIE BROWN).
- 25D: Faithful crusader for the existence of 12-Across (LINUS VAN PELT).
- 70D: Instrument seen in 27-Across (TOY PIANO).
Wow. Great theme with an ambitious number of theme answers and a hefty dose of grid restriction. In fact, I saw the grid and thought this must be one of Liz Gorski's masterpieces. (Also, I saw the theme name and thought "Godot? You can make a whole puzzle around Godot?") But John Lampkin did a great job with this one. There's a little bit of clunker fill, of course, and it's super unfortunate that symmetry required the inclusion of TOY PIANO, which certainly adds to the Peanuts vibe, but isn't directly related to The Great Pumpkin. With an A+ theme and solid B fill, though, this puzzle definitely makes the grade.
Just a couple other things:
- 17A: Last Supper question (IS IT I?). Crosswordese 301.
- 29A: Loaf (DOG IT). Love this colloquial phrase.
- 41A: Puppy love (CRUSH). Ah, memories.
- 75A: Former name of Lake Malawi (NYASA). If you say so.
- 78A: Vampire's home, perhaps (CRYPT). Bonus Halloween answer.
- 93A: Closer (NEARER). Because Mariano Rivera wouldn't fit.
- 97A: Cupid teammate (DASHER). I tried Dancer first.
- 99A: Larynx locale (THROAT). Love that it's crossing 68D: Of the windpipe (TRACHEAL).
- 14D: "Sock __ me!" (IT TO). Kind of a retro feel to the puzzle today for me. References to "Laugh In" are always welcome.
- 30D: Form into a mosaic pattern (TESSELLATE). Never heard this words before, but it's pretty cool.
- 66D: Whiny (GRIPY). Remember when I said there was some clunky fill? Yeah.
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Everything Else — 1A: Blockbusters (SMASH HITS); 10A: Si and Am in "Lady and the Tramp" (SIAMESE CATS); 16A: Draw again, as comic book lines (REINK); 18A: Genesis firstborn (CAIN); 19A: Masked one at home (UMP); 22A: Amt. due (BAL.); 24A: And the list goes on, briefly (ET AL.); 26A: Hobbits' region (SHIRE); 31A: Chestnut horse (ROAN); 32A: LPGA golfer Johnson (TRISH); 33A: Hydrocarbon suffixes (-ANES); 35A: The king: Span. (EL REY); 37A: Tropical roofers (THATCHERS); 42A: Elusive guy in a striped shirt (WALDO); 44A: Italian Renaissance poet (TASSO); 46A: Eensy-__ (WEENSY); 48A: Summer Triangle star (ALTAIR); 50A: Sign made with two digits (VEE); 51A: Droll-sounding grain? (RYE); 52A: Verb from Mark Antony (LEND); 53A: Octopus costume features (ARMS); 54A: Every bit (ALL); 55A: Party girl? (DEB); 62A: Mets' div. (NLE); 63A: Noun from Mark Antony (EARS); 65A: Some Protestants (LUTHERANS); 66A: Scholastic nos. (GPAS); 67A: Let fall, poetically (DROPT); 69A: Opposes (NAYSAYS); 70A: Waste allowances (TRETS); 71A: Darkly complexioned, to Shakespeare (SWART); 73A: Himalayan sightings (YETIS); 74A: Picturesque fabric (TOILE); 77A: D.C. bigwig (SEN.); 84A: Put-__: pranks (ONS); 87A: Show contempt for, as a villain (HISS AT); 89A: 11-time Olympic swimming medalist Matt (BIONDI); 90A: Scannable mdse. bars (UPC); 95A: Reagan or Kennedy (AIRPORT); 100A: Board member (TRUSTEE); 101A: Ultimate purpose (END USE); 103A: Does a slow burn (SEETHES); 1D: Coach's gesturing (SIGN); 2D: Add a profit margin to (MARK UP); 3D: __ Zion Church (AME); 4D: Aegean, for one (SEA); 5D: DDE's predecessor (HST); 6D: Cool, like a cat (HEP); 7D: Post-ER area (ICU); 8D: Ethnic group of southern India (TAMILS); 9D: Some auto maintenance store products (STPS); 10D: Paris divider (SEINE); 11D: Enjoyed a cross-country jaunt? (SKIED); 12D: Showed the ropes (TRAINED); 13D: Legatee (HEIR); 15D: River between two Great Lakes (NIAGARA); 20D: Alloy components (METALS); 21D: To some extent (PARTLY); 22D: Nonsense, euphemistically (BUSHWA); 23D: Close behind (AT HEEL); 26D: Periods between vernal equinoxes (SOLAR YEARS); 28D: Wilhelmina's daughter in "Ugly Betty" (NICO); 31D: Gave a treat for a trick, say (REWARDED); 34D: Barefoot (SHOELESS); 36D: Pained cry (YOWL); 37D: Stanley Cup org. (THE NHL); 38D: Colt .45, e.g. (HANDGUN); 39D: Engages, as an attorney (RETAINS); 40D: Some drum parts (SNARES); 41D: NFL snappers (CTRS); 47D: Fair-hiring initials (EEO); 49D: Worldwide fiscal agcy. (IMF); 57D: Our Gang affirmative (OTAY); 58D: "You bet!" ("OH YES!"); 59D: Villa __: Italian landmark (DESTE); 60D: Speck of truth (GRAIN); 61D: Ocean-bottom fish (RAYS); 64D: Prevents littering? (SPAYS); 72D: Summer tops (T-SHIRTS); 74D: Walked-on (TRODDEN); 76D: Smallest cont. in area (AUS.); 78D: Not supporting (CON); 80D: Hurdles for future attys. (LSATS); 81D: Congo, once (ZAIRE); 82D: Yes or no emphasizer (SIREE); 83D: F and G, but not H (NOTES); 84D: Being shown, in a way (ON TV); 85D: Classic grape soda (NEHI); 86D: Puppeteer Tony who mentored Bil Baird (SARG); 88D: 50-50 test answer (TRUE); 89D: The pair (BOTH); 90D: "Nope" ("UH-UH"); 91D: Colombian coin (PESO); 92D: Yacht staff (CREW); 94D: Palais resident (ROI); 96D: Idaho Panhandle hrs. (PST); 98D: Radical '60s gp. (SDS).