Theme: "51 Pickup" — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letter string LI (51 in Roman numerals) inserted into them creating wacky phrases which are 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.]
- 22A: Space cadet's selection? (OBLIVIOUS CHOICE).
- 30A: "Let's go, Mr. North" ("COME ON, OLIVER").
- 52A: Fish-eating bird's dessert? (PELICAN PIE).
- 61A: Powell's portrait painter? (COLIN ARTIST).
- 76A: Badly neglected vehicle? (SQUALID CAR).
- 95A: Scores kept by Cinderella's godmother? (FAIRY TALLIES).
- 109A: Ultimate caterer? (THE LAST SUPPLIER).
- 3D: Seasoning for kielbasa? (POLISH SPICE).
- 14D: Sarah's campaign strategist? (PALIN HANDLER).
- 57D: Lassie's luggage carrier? (COLLIE PORTER).
- 66D: Analgesic for a post-snorkeling headache? (CORAL RELIEF).
Stuff to talk about:
- 1A: Flavorful (SAPID). This is one of those words that sounds to me like it should mean the opposite of what it means. I know there are one or two others that pop up occasionally, but I can't think of what they are right now.
- 20A: Is guaranteed to work (CAN'T FAIL). Entered can't miss at first.
- 21A: Ike's mate (MAMIE). Please tell me I wasn't the only one trying to make Nixon work here.
- 35A: "So that's it!" ("OHO!"). I'm not entirely clear on the difference between oho and aha.
- 60A: Promise, for one (OLEO). Promise is a brand of margarine.
- 71A: Like tortoiseshell (HORNY). Not a word you see in the puzzle very often.
- 73A: Large envelope (MAILER).
- 89A: Isinglass (MICA). That C was the last letter I entered into the grid. The cross — 76D: Keanan of "Step by Step" (STACI) — didn't help me at all.
- 94A: Casa pet, perhaps (GATO). Spanish for cat.
- 114A: Abscissa's counterpart (ORDINATE). I have no idea what this means.
- 115A: Jungle queen (SHEENA).
- 2D: Wrestler Lou (ALBANO). I know, I know. Those of you who know me saw "wrestler" in the puzzle and thought "Oho! PG will certainly have something to say about this!" But, here's the thing. I'm only interested in real wrestling, not the fake stuff where they hit each other over the head with chairs. I mean, why the hell are there chairs in the ring anyway? Professional wrestling : sports :: soap operas : television.
- 21D: Dugout ldr. (MGR.). That's an ugly abbreviation there, especially because a capital "i" and a small "L" look the same in type.
- 46D: Spa treatment (PEEL). Love me a spa day. Can't say I've ever had a peel though.
- 68D: Cities, informally (URBS). Is this a words that's actually used? I'm not trying to be a smart aleck. It sounds fake to me, but I can imagine it's common in some circles. Urban planning maybe? Commuter transportation?
- 91D: Nebraska river (PLATTE). PuzzleFamily and I had a lovely vacation in a cabin at the Platte River State Park one summer. No wait, we spent two days strolling around the Omaha Zoo in record-high temperatures (100+) and there was no bathroom in our cabin. Come to think of it, it wasn't really lovely at all.
- 98D: Ames sch. (ISU). This is, of course, Iowa State University. The school that, coincidentally, placed second in last week's wrestling tournament. What? You'd like to know who finished first? I'm so glad you asked! The Iowa Hawkeyes crushed! I mean crushed! Three champs, two second-place finishers, one third, and three sixths. We also had a couple wrestlers competing "unattached" who ended up second and fifth in their weights. It was awesome.
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Everything Else — 6A: Tennyson poem that begins "He clasps the crag with crooked hands" (THE EAGLE); 14A: Scorecard numbers (PARS); 18A: Leachman who is the oldest "Dancing With the Stars" contestant to date (CLORIS); 24A: Fly on the wind (GLIDE); 25A: Buddy (PAISANO); 26A: Madre's boy (NIÑO); 27A: Coleridge storyteller (MARINER); 29A: USNA grad (ENS.); 34A: Bridge site (NOSE); 37A: Sporty Pontiac (GTO); 38A: Start of Caesar's boast (VENI); 39A: Crack reaction (HAHA); 40A: Novelist Susan (SONTAG); 44A: Inclined (LEANT); 46A: Burrowing rodents of Central and South America (PACAS); 47A: Vatican Palace painter (RAPHAEL); 49A: Had in mind (MEANT); 50A: "Meet the Fockers" actor (DENIRO); 51A: Judo sash (OBI); 55A: Blush (REDDEN); 56A: Muhammad's birthplace (MECCA); 58A: Swoon (FAINT); 59A: Gloom (PALL); 65A: Creamy shade (ECRU); 69A: Angle iron (L-BAR); 72A: Like Niagara Falls (AROAR); 80A: Needle (RIB); 81A: Sign up (ENLIST); 82A: Lion-colored (TAWNY); 83A: Water polo teams, e.g. (HEPTADS); 85A: Chicago suburb (NILES); 86A: Merited (RATED); 87A: Back fin (DORSAL); 88A: "Do I need to draw you __?" (A MAP); 90A: Org. concerned with PCBs (EPA); 92A: Piece of work (ERG); 101A: Pitching stat (ERA); 103A: Going on and on (ETERNAL); 105A: "Charity thou __ lie": Stephen Crane (ART A); 106A: Ralph Nader in the 2000 election, according to Gore supporters (SPOILER); 108A: Bit of gaucho gear (RIATA); 113A: Atlas feature (INSET); 116A: Hungarian castle city (EGER); 117A: Grading period (SEMESTER); 118A: Hotel amenities (SAFES); 1D: Range (SCOPE); 4D: The cornea covers it (IRIS); 5D: Former NBA center Vlade (DIVAC); 6D: Horned Frogs' sch. (TCU); 7D: Lacks (HAS NOT); 8D: Valley Girl's home, perhaps (ENCINO); 9D: Culture: Pref. (ETHNO-); 10D: "__ Such As I": Elvis hit (A FOOL); 11D: Merry, in Metz (GAI); 12D: Contractor's ID (LIC.); 13D: Natural environment (ELEMENT); 15D: Body builder? (AMINO ACID); 16D: Carpooling (RIDE SHARE); 17D: Allow oneself to be persuaded (SEE REASON); 19D: Chinese: Pref. (SINO-); 23D: Pah lead-in (OOM); 28D: Bush spokesman Fleischer (ARI); 31D: Easter roller (EGG); 32D: Russian prince known as "Moneybag" (IVAN I); 33D: Sale, to Seurat (VENTE); 36D: "I'm amazed!" ("OOH!"); 41D: Western wine region (NAPA); 42D: Simple top (TEE); 43D: Totally behind (ALL FOR); 44D: Helped out (LENT A HAND); 45D: "The Raven" monogram (EAP); 47D: Dallas quarterback Tony (ROMO); 48D: Brother of Cain (ABEL); 49D: Jazz flutist Herbie (MANN); 50D: "Shoot!" ("DRAT!"); 53D: Adverb ending (-IAL); 54D: MXX ÷ X (CII); 59D: Movie with a memorable shower scene (PSYCHO); 61D: Golf rental (CART); 62D: __-poly (ROLY); 63D: Penta- minus two (TRI-); 64D: Corn Belt st. (IND.); 67D: Bust (RAID); 70D: 21-Across predecessor (BESS); 72D: Dadaist collection (ARPS); 73D: Where the wild things are (MENAGERIE); 74D: Bringing to life (ANIMATING); 75D: Uptight (ILL AT EASE); 77D: Persian Gulf nation (QATAR); 78D: German director Boll known for film adaptations of video games (UWE); 84D: __ kwon do (TAE); 86D: Theater districts (RIALTOS); 87D: Indian lentil dish (DAL); 89D: Juilliard deg. (MFA); 90D: Really bugs (EATS AT); 93D: "The Quiet American" author (GREENE); 96D: Either Bush, once (YALIE); 97D: __ fat (TRANS); 99D: "House" actor Omar (EPPS); 100D: Next year's juniors (SOPHS); 102D: Tapestry behind which Polonius hid (ARRAS); 104D: Rebellious Turner (NAT); 107D: Intestinal parts (ILEA); 110D: Realm until 1806: Abbr. (HRE); 111D: Teacher's deg. (ED.M.); 112D: Inspiring talk: Abbr. (SER.).