Theme: "Ling-uistics" — Familiar phrases have the letter string LING added to them, creating new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.
[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: Migration of gregarious birds? (STARLING TREK). From Stark Trek.
- 50A: Bovine argument at the lanes? (OX-BOWLING INCIDENT). I've heard of The Ox-Bow Incident but I'm not really sure what it is. Let me look it up real quick. Okay, it's a 1940 novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark that was made into a movie starring Henry Fonda in 1943.
- 71A: Game for lazy kids? (IDLING TAG). ID tag.
- 95A: Drinking too much? (PICKLING YOUR BRAIN). Pick your brain.
- 122A: Courtroom intuition? (LEGAL FEELING). Legal fee.
- 3D: Result of way too much praise? (EGO TRIPLING). Not 100% crazy about this one because the original phase — ego trip — could also be an answer to the clue's question.
- 31D: McCarthy suspicion? (RED INKLING). Red ink.
- 58D: Affleck on the mound? (BEN HURLING). Ben Hur. I know that Ben Affleck is a baseball fan — I bet he likes this one.
- 74D: Quartet of storytellers? (FABLING FOUR). The Fab Four, of course, refers to the Beatles.
- 15A: PC programs (APPS). I downloaded a grocery list app the other night and I'm super excited about it. It's pathetic really.
- 37A: Gary's home (INDIANA). Nice misdirection here. I'm all, "Gary who?"
- 48A: Very softly, in music (PPP). I believe there was some debate about this over at Rex's blog not too long ago. Some people were arguing vehemently that P in music indicates tempo instead of volume. Which is, um ... wrong.
- 55A: Beethoven dedicatee (ELISE). Wow, lots of music in today's puzzle. "Für Elise" is probably Beethoven's most well-known composition. If you don't know what it sounds like, find a 10-year-old kid who plays piano and they should be able to play it for you.
- 68A: Disney lioness (NALA). From "The Lion King."
- 89A: Amusement park rides (MONORAILS). Again with the trickery! Not the rides that you think of when you think of an amusement park, but the ride that transports you around to the various rides and attractions and obscenely priced food.
- 108A: "__ at the Opera" (A NIGHT). I liked "A Night at the Museum."
- 130A: Smirnoff alternative (SKYY). I've heard of Smirnoff but not SKYY. Oh, I see. SKYY vodka was introduced in 1992. I had already stopped drinking by then.
- 131A: State in northeast India (ASSAM). This is Crosswordese 301.
- 12D: Ahab's father in the Bible (OMRI). Wait, what? I thought I could at least recognize the Bible names even if I didn't really know who they were. I guess not.
- 35D: "If the fans don't come out to the ballpark, you can't stop them" speaker (YOGI). Who doesn't love Yogi Berra and his humorous observations on life?
- 48D: Pitcher Martinez (PEDRO). He had a kinda rough start in Game Six of the World Series this year.
- 61D: Conestoga driver (WAGONER). Big thanks to Doug Peterson for teaching me the word conestoga. I had never heard the word until I came across it (as an answer) in Doug's puzzle at Lollapuzzoola a couple months ago. Not knowing the word at that time pretty much cost me a berth in the local division finals. Not that I'm bitter.
- 90D: Ready for action after an injury, in sports (OK TO PLAY). Love this colloquial phrase. Is it "in the language"? I vote yes.
- 93D: Scale divs. (LBS.). I think the puzzle had lulled me into thinking about music without my really knowing it. I was thinking "Notes? Measures? What?"
- 109D: Co-creator of Yogi and Boo Boo (HANNA). Different Yogi.
- 110D: Town on the Firth of Clyde (TROON). Never heard of it.
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Everything Else — 1A: Full of: Suff. (-OSE); 4A: Played (around) (HORSED); 10A: Helmsman's challenge (SHOAL); 19A: Truck stop sight (RIG); 20A: Ring of color (AREOLE); 21A: Common sonnet line quintet (IAMBI); 22A: Model T contemporaries (REOS); 23A: Commotion (ADO); 26A: Eden-to-Nod direction (EAST); 27A: Release to attack (LET AT); 29A: President who attended Eureka College (REAGAN); 30A: Responds to "Come again?" (ITERATES); 32A: Go from pub to pub (BARHOP); 34A: Too inquisitive (NOSY); 36A: Yr.-end period (DEC.); 41A: Squirrel's partner, to Boris and Natasha (MOOSE); 44A: Mosque toppers (DOMES); 53A: Will Varner's daughter-in-law in "The Long, Hot Summer" (EULA); 56A: Krakatoa's country (INDONESIA); 57A: Bounces on a court (DRIBBLES); 59A: Handful (FEW); 62A: Home in bed, maybe (SICK); 64A: Actress Zellweger et al. (RENEES); 65A: Most passengers in "Titanic," e.g. (EXTRAS); 70A: Liver or kidney (ORGAN); 73A: As a joke (IN FUN); 77A: Subsequently (THEN); 79A: Escort to the door (SEE OUT); 80A: Like many home movies (ON TAPE); 81A: Prefix with cycle (UNI-); 84A: West Point letters (USMA); 86A: ID theft datum (SSN); 87A: Like material goods (TANGIBLE); 92A: Best of the best (ELITE); 94A: Declined (SLID); 99A: Part of TGIF (IT'S); 100A: 1972 U.S./Soviet pact (SALT I); 101A: Denounces (DAMNS); 102A: Write (SET DOWN); 104A: Southernmost Canadian prov. (ONT.); 106A: Trickle (SEEP); 111A: Temporary fixes (STOPGAPS); 116A: Conqueror of Mexico (CORTES); 120A: Equally distant (AS FAR); 121A: Rank below marquis (EARL); 125A: Lennon's love (ONO); 126A: __ breve (ALLA); 127A: Mural opening? (INTRA-); 128A: Prefix with -nomic (GASTRO); 129A: Half of dos (UNO); 132A: Certain Nebraskan (OMAHAN); 133A: Operated (RAN); 1D: Dental floss brand (ORAL-B); 2D: It's usually a hit (SIDE A); 4D: Concerns, with "with" (HAS TO DO); 5D: Scrap (ORT); 6D: Backside (REAR); 7D: Angry (SORE); 8D: First name in scat (ELLA); 9D: Condescend (DEIGN); 10D: Enlists (SIGNS ON); 11D: Monopoly token (HAT); 13D: Help the wrong way? (ABET); 14D: Enjoyed (LIKED); 15D: Three-digit ID (AREA CODE); 16D: Gardening moss (PEAT); 17D: Photographer's suggestion (POSE); 18D: Old Atl. crossers (SSTS); 25D: Actress Watts (NAOMI); 28D: "Kung Fu" actor (AHN); 33D: Digital dots (PIXELS); 38D: Up to the task (ABLE); 40D: Nursery reactions (AWS); 42D: Deadly septet (SINS); 43D: Credits follow it (ENDING); 45D: Clutter (MESS); 46D: City WNW of Stillwater, Oklahoma (ENID); 47D: RR stops (STAS); 49D: Less polluted (PURER); 51D: Southpaws (LEFTIES); 52D: Cola lead-in (COCA-); 54D: Didn't miss __ (A BEAT); 60D: Beach birds (ERNES); 66D: Good-sized sizes (XLS); 67D: Apt name for a cook? (STU); 69D: Opposing forces (ANTIS); 71D: Under consideration (IN MIND); 72D: Outfit (ATTIRE); 75D: Illuminated indirectly (UPLIT); 76D: Calls for (NEEDS); 78D: Actor Morales (ESAI); 80D: Flatware company, or the New York community where it began (ONEIDA); 81D: Calls the game (UMPS); 82D: Psychological suffix with para- (NOIA); 83D: Part of the pkg. (INCL.); 85D: Bit of plankton (ALGA); 88D: Rat-__ (A-TAT); 96D: A buck (ONE CLAM); 97D: "What's the __ Wond'rin'": "Carousel" song (USE OF); 98D: Nine-sided shape (NONAGON); 103D: Mich. neighbor (WIS.); 105D: Shire of "Rocky" (TALIA); 107D: Ragú rival (PREGO); 111D: Salty septet (SEAS); 112D: Converse (TALK); 113D: Paris hub (ORLY); 114D: Writes (PENS); 115D: Some NCOs (SGTS.); 117D: Squad (TEAM); 118D: Supermodel Benitez (ELSA); 119D: Group that opposed the Jedi (SITH); 123D: Neighbor of Scorpius (ARA); 124D: Org. with a lot of heaters? (NRA).