September 4, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel
[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.]
Theme: "Secret Stash" — Phrases in which ST is changed to H, yielding wacky results.
- 24A: Jack Benny in his patented pose? (HAND-UP COMIC).
- 26A: One military stint after another? (CHAIN HITCH).
- 37A: Causes serious damage at sea? (HACKS THE DECK).
- 61A: Getting flattened by a gridiron lineman? (HUMBLING BLOCK).
- 75A: Hollywood hopeful's pursuit? (PUBLICITY HUNT).
- 97A: Cad on his best behavior? (TEMPERED HEEL).
- 111A: Coven gatherings? (HAG PARTIES).
- 117A: Give a ride to roadside yokels? (PICK-UP HICKS).
- 14D: One going from theater to theater? (SHOW HOPPER).
- 73D: Pawnbroker's niche? (HOCK MARKET).
First I want to comment on the grid. Our constructors have given us ten theme entries today, including two theme pairs that intersect in the upper right and lower left. And even with all that theme coverage, they've squeezed in some interesting long entries like ALFA ROMEO, GO FIGURE, and BALTIC SEA. Impressive.
HAND-UP COMIC entry is wonderful if you're old enough to remember Jack Benny. I'm not that old, but I have seen quite a few episodes of "The Jack Benny Show" and I'm familiar with his signature hand-on-the-chin gesture. I like listening to old-time radio shows, but most of the comedy routines haven't aged well. There are a couple exceptions though. Jack Benny's still funny, and I love Burns & Allen. Gracie cracks me up every time she opens her mouth.
I also like HUMBLING BLOCK. That's a great entry for football season, which is starting soon. Or maybe it's already started. I'm not sure. I don't follow football much anymore. I've never recovered from the confusion of the Seahawks' shift to the NFC, and that was almost 10 years ago.
- 5A: Carlisle's wife in "Twilight" (ESME). For crossword purposes, there are only two names you need to remember from the "Twilight" series: ESME and BELLA. Bella's the main character and Esme is...somebody else. Carlisle's wife I guess. And I think she's the mom of sparkly vampire Edward.
- 34A: "Crispin: The Cross of Lead" Newbery Medal-winning author (AVI). I'm surprised we don't see his name more often in puzzles. AVI is usually clued as a bird-related prefix. But this AVI guy is certainly crossword-worthy.
- 48A: 2, at Putt-Putt (PAR). I figured that "Putt-Putt" and miniature golf were the same thing. Well, Putt-Putt is a trademark, and Wikipedia informs me that there "are several significant differences between Putt-Putt's brand of miniature golf and other versions." What, no windmills? I get the impression that Putt-Putt is for more "serious" miniature golfers.
- 67A: Wee start? (PEE). Did this clue/answer pair make you giggle?
- 106A: Tilde feature? (SHORT I). Tricky. The word "tilde" features a short i sound. And you thought Shorti was a new "Jersey Shore" character.
- 109A: Word after Wuzzy (WAS). From the immortal "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear..." tongue twister.
- 40D: Yankees all-time hit leader Jeter (DEREK). 3,064 and counting.
- 90D: Head turner, say (EYE CANDY). Another nice long entry.
- 113D: Ones knocked off during strikes (PINS). I don't think "knocked off" makes sense. Should be "knocked down," right?
Everything — 1A: Award named for a Muse (CLIO); 5A: Carlisle's wife in "Twilight" (ESME); 9A: "No prob!" (A SNAP); 14A: Kane's Rosebud, e.g. (SLED); 18A: Loch with sightings (NESS); 19A: Financial claim (LIEN); 20A: Hooch source (STILL); 21A: "I'd like a say" sounds (AHEMS); 22A: St. Petersburg is on it (BALTIC SEA); 24A: Jack Benny in his patented pose? (HAND-UP COMIC); 26A: One military stint after another? (CHAIN HITCH); 28A: Recently retired NBAer (YAO); 29A: Mac-PC battles, e.g. (AD WARS); 30A: Hole advantage (ACE); 31A: Expression of disdain (TUSH); 33A: Semicircular structure (ARCH); 34A: "Crispin: The Cross of Lead" Newbery Medal-winning author (AVI); 37A: Causes serious damage at sea? (HACKS THE DECK); 42A: Hautboy, more commonly (OBOE); 46A: Certain boss's group (GANG); 48A: 2, at Putt-Putt (PAR); 49A: Saintly Mother (TERESA); 50A: 29-Across units (SPOTS); 51A: Spider automaker (ALFA ROMEO); 54A: Cop's catch (PERP); 55A: Tradition-challenging genre (POP ART); 56A: Pageant topper (TIARA); 57A: "&iques;Cómo __?" (ESTÁ); 59A: Under-the-hood knock source, perhaps (ENGINE ROD); 61A: Getting flattened by a gridiron lineman? (HUMBLING BLOCK); 65A: You may read it before turning a page (OVER); 66A: Poehler of "SNL" (AMY); 67A: Wee start? (PEE); 68A: "... boy __ girl?" (OR A); 69A: UAL West Coast hub (SFO); 70A: Consequence of over-toasting?: Abbr. (DUI); 73A: Piltdown man, say (HOAX); 75A: Hollywood hopeful's pursuit? (PUBLICITY HUNT); 79A: Stuff, pad, cover, etc. (UPHOLSTER); 83A: Hopper (FROG); 84A: Indian melodies (RAGAS); 85A: Breaks bread? (SLICES); 86A: Conn of "Grease" (DIDI); 89A: "I'm not making this up!" (TRUE STORY); 91A: Dweebs (DORKS); 92A: Elegy, for example (LAMENT); 94A: What big girls don't do, in a '60s hit (CRY); 95A: Sport with Shinto rituals (SUMO); 96A: "Up and __!" (AT 'EM); 97A: Cad on his best behavior? (TEMPERED HEEL); 100A: Sch. in Nashville (TSU); 101A: Magician's opening (ABRA); 103A: Bailiff's request (RISE); 104A: Pres. after JAG (CAA); 106A: Tilde feature? (SHORT I); 109A: Word after Wuzzy (WAS); 111A: Coven gatherings? (HAG PARTIES); 117A: Give a ride to roadside yokels? (PICK UP HICKS); 120A: Ritual before a fall, hopefully? (RAIN DANCE); 121A: First pot chips (ANTES); 122A: Shower time (APRIL); 123A: Repair (MEND); 124A: Scientology's __ Hubbard (L. RON); 125A: Now, in the ER (STAT); 126A: Kid's choice word (MEENY); 127A: __ listening (EASY); 128A: Give, but expect back (LEND); 1D: "Street Signs" network (CNBC); 2D: Wife of Jacob (LEAH); 3D: Cuba, to Cubans (ISLA); 4D: Old Roman port (OSTIA); 5D: "Your Stinginess" ("EL CHEAPO"); 6D: "You bet, señor!" ("SÍ SÍ!"); 7D: Assemble (MEET); 8D: Puts into law (ENACTS); 9D: Shade of blond (ASH); 10D: "Don't move!" ("STAY HERE!"); 11D: "Project Runway" judge Garcia (NINA); 12D: Designer Gucci (ALDO); 13D: Like cats and dogs: Abbr. (PLU.); 14D: One going from theater to theater? (SHOW HOPPER); 15D: 1964 British Open champ (LEMA); 16D: Qatar bigwig (EMIR); 17D: Mil. medals (DSC'S); 21D: Current initials (AC/DC); 23D: Foot part (INCH); 25D: Use a lot? (PARK); 27D: Pizza the __: "Spaceballs" role (HUTT); 32D: Herding dog name (SHEP); 33D: Here, in Havana (ACA); 34D: First name in mystery (AGATHA); 35D: Drug for anxiety (VALIUM); 36D: Disrepute (INFAMY); 38D: Followed (CAME NEXT); 39D: Kmart founder (KRESGE); 40D: Yankees all-time hit leader Jeter (DEREK); 41D: "Home Run Derby" airer (ESPN); 43D: Hog wild? (BOAR); 44D: Juan's "other" (OTRO); 45D: Abbr. before a year (ESTD.); 47D: Duds (GARB); 50D: Loudness unit (SONE); 52D: "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-__": Irish lullaby (RAL); 53D: Handicapper's hangout, briefly (OTB); 55D: Turning point (PIVOT); 58D: Jesus of baseball (ALOU); 60D: "Beats me" ("GO FIGURE"); 62D: "No thanks" ("I PASS"); 63D: Heavenly body (ORB); 64D: Little lower? (CALF); 69D: Burn badly (SCORCH); 70D: Where many bats are seen (DUGOUT); 71D: Takes weapons from (UNARMS); 72D: Fitting room "That looks fabulous!" ("IT'S YOU!"); 73D: Pawnbroker's niche? (HOCK MARKET); 74D: Corrida cries (OLÉS); 75D: Dress fussily (PRIMP); 76D: NYC subway (IRT); 77D: Mos. and mos. (YRS.); 78D: Bowlers, e.g. (HATS); 79D: Food stamp (USDA); 80D: Novel idea (PLOT); 81D: Take on (HIRE); 82D: Dutch treat (EDAM); 87D: Fur trader's supply (DEERSKIN); 88D: Cross letters (INRI); 90D: Head turner, say (EYE CANDY); 92D: Green span (LEA); 93D: New Ager John (TESH); 97D: Stumble (TRIP); 98D: "Oh, no!" ("DEAR ME!"); 99D: Hog fat (LARD); 102D: Heat meas. (BTU'S); 105D: Even a little (AT ALL); 106D: Places with lots of white robes (SPAS); 107D: Request from one who's stumped (HINT); 108D: Numerical prefix (OCTA-); 109D: Rub dry (WIPE); 110D: Lot size (ACRE); 112D: Mother of the Titans (GAEA); 113D: Ones knocked off during strikes (PINS); 114D: Memo starter (IN RE); 115D: MBA course (ECON.); 116D: iPhone command (SEND); 118D: It may be cured (HAM); 119D: Crafty (SLY).