THEME: SCHwing! — "SCH" is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Can't remember the last time I saw a Quigley by-line in the LAT. I guess the LAT is the marquee destination for "add-a-letter" puzzles. As "add-a-letter" puzzles (or, in this case, "add-some-letters" puzzles) go, this one is good. The added letters are a thorny clump of consonants that create words that are just fun to say. I did not know that "SCHLUMP" meant "fool," and I don't hear the phrase "TICK MARKS" very often (I assume those are the marks you make when you are "ticking" items off a list ...?), but I enjoyed the word transformations nonetheless.
- 19A: Low-quality trumpets and trombones? (SCHLOCK HORNS)
- 35A: "How many fools do we have here?"? (ONE SCHLUMP OR TWO?)
- 50A: Grades in standup comedy class? (SCHTICK MARKS)
Aside from the wacky and playful SCH- words, this puzzle had a few other traits that seemed particularly Quigleyan. STROHS, for instance (25D: Brand owned by Pabst). Brendan seems to have a thing for Pabst, though I forget why I think that. Anyway, that clue felt like an author signature of sorts. I can also tell you that PRICK (38D: Puncture) would have had an *very* different clue if it had appeared at BEQ's own puzzle site (which is highly recommended for 3 fresh and tough and contemporary and occasionally salacious puzzles a week). The puzzle had some nice, complementary pairings, such as WYETH (39A: "Christina's World" painter) and KEITH HARING (23D: "The Radiant Baby" pop artist), HONDA (1A: Pilot producer) over LECAR (17A: Old Renault), and the foody crossing of ARROZ (5D: Pollo partner) and OUZO (21A: Greek liqueur). Worst mistake of the day — misreading 5D: Pollo partner and promptly writing in "MARCO!"
Crosswordese 101: LE CAR (17A: Old Renault) — Renault subcompact offered by AMC as a rival to the Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Rabbit. LE CAR was, frankly, a stupid-looking and stupid-sounding car — AMC was a master at that genre of car. They were, after all, the people behind The Gremlin. LE CAR should've been called "Le Emasculating Euro Death Trap." The one great legacy of LE CAR is its occasionally useful set of letters, which have helped countless constructors get out of crossword corners with a reasonably clean and viable grid.
- 47A: VII x LXXIII (DXI) — A Peter Gordon special (PG is the editor of "Fireball Crosswords," and is the former editor of the New York Sun crossword). This is how he clues virtually every random Roman Numeral in his grids. I hate it, but that's my cross to bear.
- 61A: Messy places (RAT'S NESTS) — the placement of this answer is oddly coincidental if you happened to do today's NYT puzzle. If not ... well, move along.
- 59A: Wading, perhaps (ANKLE-DEEP) — I was in much deeper water: WAIST-DEEP water, in fact.
- 47D: Plane that competed with Lockheed's L-1011 (DC-TEN) — Lockheed Martin is a major employer around these parts. That helped me with this clue not one bit.
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Everything Else — 6A: Deep-sixed (TOSSED OUT); 15A: "Are we __?": Sondheim lyric (A PAIR); 16A: They make lots of contacts (OPTICIANS); 18A: Lucille Ball was one, slangily (CARROT TOP); 22A: Con lead-in (NEO-); 23A: Metric wts. (KGS); 26A: Letters on old rubles (CCCP); 28A: Slight push (NUDGE); 31A: Squire (GENT); 32A: Sound from the bleachers (RAH); 33A: Spread unit (ACRE); 34A: Man with a mission (FRIAR); 40A: Criticize (CARP); 41A: [snicker] (HEH); 42A: Drooping part of a Concorde (NOSE); 43A: Cheri who portrayed a "Morning Latte" co-host on "SNL" (OTERI); 45A: Hard-earned degs. (PHDS); 46A: Bring action against (SUE); 48A: Happy Meal choice (COLA); 55A: Ingredient in green salsa (TOMATILLO); 58A: "Giant Brain" unveiled in 1946 (ENIAC); 60A: "Soon It's __ Rain": "The Fantasticks" song (GONNA); 62A: Second of the five stages of grief (ANGER); 1D: Dutch artist Frans (HALS); 2D: 12-member cartel (OPEC); 3D: Tortilla chip topping (NACHO CHEESE); 4D: Slow online connection (DIAL-UP); 6D: Clock sound (TOCK); 7D: Hawaiian food fish (OPAH); 8D: Undiluted (STRONG); 9D: "Yes __!" (SIRREE); 10D: Cut-rate, in company names (ECONO); 11D: A Morse "I" requires two (DITS); 12D: Nosebag bit (OAT); 13D: Game with a discard pile (UNO); 14D: 1/48 cup: Abbr. (TSP.); 20D: Large sea snail (CONCH); 24D: Ate like a mouse (GNAWED); 26D: Ceremonial headgear (CROWNS); 27D: Favor asker's opening (CAN YOU); 29D: Google hit datum (URL); 30D: Score before ad in (DEUCE); 31D: "I'm mad!" ("GRR!"); 33D: Dresden "D'oh!" ("ACH!"); 34D: Clotheshorse (FOP); 36D: Abbr. in Québec place names (STE.); 37D: Make a dent in (MAR); 43D: Durable leather (OXHIDE); 44D: Best-seller list entries (TITLES); 45D: Expect (PLAN ON); 49D: Last in a series (OMEGA); 50D: Baseball's Maglie and Bando (SALS); 51D: "Sorry if __ you down" (I LET); 52D: Police (COPS); 53D: Rosebud's owner, in film (KANE); 54D: War memento (SCAR); 55D: Old salt (TAR); 56D: __ trial basis (ON A); 57D: NASDAQ, e.g. (MKT.).