[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.]
- 23A: Athlete's illegal plan? (DOPING STRATEGY).
- 44A: Inevitably short story of a track event? (DASH ACCOUNT).
- 68A: Derrières? (FRENCH DUFFS).
- 96A: Contented furnace part? (HAPPY DAMPER).
- 119A: Pass receiver's nightmare? (DREAM OF THE DROP).
- 13D: Dangerous links game? (GOLF DARTS).
- 41D: Where authors exhibit unedited work? (DRAFTS FAIR).
- 44D: Designated area for Southern dialogue? (DRAWL SPACE).
- 83D: City employee who helps with the dishes? (TOWN DRIER).
This is your regular Sunday host, Doug P, back with another helping of cruciverbial goodies. Today's puzzle is by Nora Pearlstone, a very talented and experienced constructor. When I saw the byline, I knew it was going to be a quality puzzle. The only theme entry that caused me to raise an eyebrow was HAPPY DAMPER, because it's hard to visualize a "contented furnace part." Maybe he's friends with the Brave Little Toaster.
My favorite theme entry was DREAM OF THE DROP. It's quite clever, and the double "CD change" is a nice way to finish off the puzzle. And there's a reason that DREAM OF THE DROP is the last across entry: the constructor didn't want solvers to think that every theme entry would involve a double letter change. If DREAM OF THE DROP was up top at 23-Across, then we'd all be wondering "Why don't the rest of them change two C's to D's?" By placing DREAM OF THE DROP at the end of the puzzle, solvers should recognize it as a bonus. Of course, some people might start solving the puzzle in the lower right corner, but they're probably weirdos.
- 1A: Post-commencement fliers? (CAPS). A tough one to start with at 1-Across. Think about graduates throwing their mortarboards into the air. I don't remember doing that, but it's been a long time since I was in school.
- 19A: Snack with several eating options (OREO). All of the options work for me.
- 49A: Hopping desert rodent (JERBOA). I was going to include a picture of a jerboa, but it basically looked like a rat, and who wants to look at a rat?
- 6D: Some NFL blockers (RGS). Short for right guards. And sometimes you'll see LGS for left guards. There are also RTS (right tackles) and LTS (left tackles), but those are usually clued as abbreviations for "rights" and "lieutenants," respectively.
- 9D: 20th-century Canadian composer André (MATHIEU). Wow, André Mathieu is one of the Frenchiest names I've ever seen. Never heard of him, but that doesn't mean much. Composers aren't my forte. Here's a snippet from Wikipedia: "Mathieu began composing at the age of 4. At age 6, Mathieu gave his first recital of his own composition at the Ritz Carleton Hotel in Montreal." OK, well I'm sure I was doing important stuff at age 6 too. Let's move on.
- 12D: Seth of "SNL" (MEYERS). This was a mystery to me. I haven't watched "Saturday Night Live" in years.
- 42D: Overused word at the nursery (CUTE). My first thought was a nursery where they sell plants, and I couldn't imagine what word would be "overused." Topsoil? Trowel? Mulch?
- 48D: Classified charge (ADFEE). It won't be long before "classified ads" are something that only old people remember. And I guess I'll be one of the old people.
- 62D: One weber per square meter (TESLA). A physics unit for measuring magnetic fields, named after the great Nikola Tesla. He also inspired the name of a rockin' band. (There are some bad words in this song, so don't click on the video if you have sensitive ears.)
- 111D: Prefix with -aholic (CHOC). Do chocaholics like Oreos? Because everyone knows that the chocolate wafers are the worst part of the cookie.
Everything Else — 5A: Skirmish (FRAY); 9A: Polite address (MAAM); 13A: Freedom of speech inhibitor (GAGLAW); 20A: Grimm bad guy (OGRE); 21A: Adolescent woe (ACNE); 22A: Shopping with a mouse, say (ONLINE); 26A: Check up (on) (LOOKIN); 27A: Put to work (EMPLOY); 28A: Whom a physician should heal? (THYSELF); 30A: TV Batman Adam (WEST); 31A: Dost speak (SAYST); 32A: Kenyan tribe (MASAI); 35A: Businesses (TRADES); 37A: Credits (to) (ASCRIBES); 40A: It's nearly bisected by the Missouri R. (SDAK); 41A: Caesar's 601 (DCI); 47A: It's not wall-to-wall (AREARUG); 51A: Cross-country need, perhaps (SKI); 52A: Put on the tube (AIR); 54A: Until now (TODATE); 55A: Sign of a slip (ERASURE); 57A: "SNL" producer Michaels (LORNE); 59A: Endure (SUFFER); 60A: Handful (FEW); 61A: Deceive (LIETO); 64A: Winans of gospel (CECE); 66A: Leave no room in (FILL); 72A: This, in Spain (ESTO); 75A: Distress letters (SOS); 77A: Restaurateur Toots (SHOR); 78A: Exams for sophs or jrs. (PSATS); 80A: Warm lining (FUR); 81A: Influence (IMPACT); 84A: Publishing crime (LIBEL); 86A: Place (SITUATE); 88A: Milan's __ alla Scala (TEATRO); 89A: Dept. in charge of rural development (AGR); 90A: Author Tarbell (IDA); 93A: Brain (GENIUS); 94A: Does without (ESCHEWS); 99A: Dogpatch's Daisy __ (MAE); 102A: Cutting tool handy in tight crevices (SABERSAW); 103A: Football play also called a sweep (ENDRUN); 105A: __ man (LADYS); 106A: Rumor starter? (IHEAR); 111A: General Mills brand (CHEX); 114A: Do some home improvement (REMODEL); 116A: Film set at the Bates Motel (PSYCHO); 117A: Island state (HAWAII); 123A: Delphic medium (ORACLE); 124A: Failed '80s gridiron org. (USFL); 125A: Go (toward) (HEAD); 126A: What kings and courts do (RULE); 127A: Civic or rec follower (CENTER); 128A: Allot, with "out" (METE); 129A: Line on a horse (ODDS); 130A: "__ Death": "Peer Gynt Suite No. 1" movement (ASES); 1D: Sets of regulations (CODES); 2D: Olfactory lure (AROMA); 3D: Energized (PEPPY); 4D: Dirties (SOILS); 5D: Stick-in-the-mud (FOGY); 7D: Gallery display (ART); 8D: "__ durn tootin'!" (YER); 10D: __-deucy (ACEY); 11D: Therapy subject (ANGST); 14D: 365 días (ANO); 15D: Shines (GLOWS);16D: Take a shine to (LIKE); 17D: Spanish liqueur (ANIS); 18D: Took off (WENT); 24D: Nobody at all (NOTASOUL); 25D: Steaming mad (ATABOIL); 29D: Russian auto (LADA); 32D: Longtime Olivia Newton-John label (MCA); 33D: Rainbow paths (ARCS); 34D: Tired partner? (SICK); 36D: Barely make, as a living (EKEOUT); 38D: Bridge star Omar (SHARIF); 39D: Caught in a net (SNARED); 43D: Disney president Robert (IGER); 45D: Tummy muscles (ABS); 46D: Costner links film (TINCUP); 49D: Bridges of "Starman" (JEFF); 50D: "... __ saw Elba" (EREI); 53D: Coral phenomena (REEFS); 58D: Earthy tone (OCHRE); 63D: Above (ONHIGH); 67D: Reluctant (LOATH); 69D: Charmed snakes? (COBRAS); 70D: Notes after mis (FAS); 71D: Mark of disgrace (STIGMA); 73D: "Swan Lake" outfit (TUTU); 74D: Tram car fillers (ORES); 76D: Conceal (SCREEN); 79D: How AA members complete their program (STEPWISE); 81D: News bit (ITEM); 82D: City east of Tempe (MESA); 85D: ChapStick, e.g. (LIPBALM); 87D: A, to Fauré (UNE); 91D: Changed the locks? (DYED); 92D: "He was white and shaken, like __ martini": Wodehouse (ADRY); 95D: Filly's father (SIRE); 97D: Lager alternative (PALEALE); 98D: Barnyard brayer (ASS); 101D: Jerk (DUMDUM); 103D: Right-on (EXACT); 104D: Swedes' neighbors (NORSE); 107D: Victim of Hercules (HYDRA); 108D: Tan shades (ECRUS); 109D: Financially struggling, with "in" (AHOLE); 110D: Boxing ring borders (ROPES); 112D: Wonderland tea party attendee (HARE); 113D: McGregor of "Big Fish" (EWAN); 115D: Skillful (DEFT); 116D: Some profs (PHDS); 118D: Mer land (ILE); 120D: Discoverer's shout (OHO); 121D: Miffed, with "up" (FED); 122D: Tiny amount (TAD).