SUNDAY, October 4, 2009
Merl Reagle

Theme: "One More Letter to Write" — Theme answers are familiar phrases with one letter added creating new wacky phrases that are clued "?"-style.

[Note: This is the puzzle that appears in the Sunday L.A. Times newspaper. If you don't get the paper, you can find the puzzle here. Scroll down to see the write-up of today's syndicated puzzle.]

Theme answers:
  • 21A: What today's conifer class will be? (ON PINES AND NEEDLES).
  • 33A: Sentiment toward doubters that's a bit extreme? (DIE AGNOSTICS).
  • 48A: What the bankrupt organ grinder decided to do? (TAKE THE MONKEY AND RUN).
  • 69A: Serenaded a famous tenor? (SANG TO DOMINGO).
  • 87A: Sign in an updated version of "Three Billy Goats Gruff"? (BRIDGE AHEAD PAY TROLL).
  • 105A: Mel reading his own bio? (BROOKS ON TAPE).
  • 119A: Baby picture of a well-known actress? (REESE WITH HER SPOON).
Sorry I'm so late. Kids' soccer and all. Good stuff from Merl today. It's an add-a-letter theme without being restricted by adding the same letter every time. As expected, the resulting answers are all groan-worthy. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Quickly now:
  • 17A: Fergie, formally (SARAH). Not that Fergie, the other Fergie. Hey look! There's both Fergies!
  • 31A: Last word of Gilligan's theme (ISLE). If you've got the song stuck in your head, just hold on. There'll be something to clear it at the end of this write-up.
  • 46A: "Entourage" character (ARI). I've been looking at Ari Gold clips for, like, half an hour now. Every single one is hilarious ... and yet completely inappropriate to share with you.
  • 56A: Ambulance letters (EMS). I first entered EMT, which is just dumb.
  • 97A: When "Comedy Tonight" is sung (ACT I). From "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."
  • 114A: "Was it a ___?" "Yeah, a great big one" (line from "L.A. Confidential") (RAT). If anyone finds a clip of this, please post a link in the comments. I don't remember this line, but it sounds funny.
  • 130A: Exec's perk: abbr. (ASST.). And believe me, some assistants are perkier than others.
  • 71D: Burt and Tony's "Trapeze" co-star (GINA). Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, and Gina Lollobrigida, back in 1956.
  • 72D: Heckle or Jeckle (MAGPIE). I just thought they were crows. But then there's CROWED down at 98D: Boasted.
  • 107D: Joy's partner (PRIDE). Oh, you know what's coming, don't you?

Everything Else — 1A: Boston player, briefly (CELT); 5A: Good (at) (ADEPT); 10A: "... flotsam? I've gotsam" poet (NASH); 14A: Newspapers need 'em (ADS); 18A: City served by Noi Bai airport (HANOI); 19A: Spread's other name (OLEO); 20A: Wintry chill (NIP); 24A: Pitcher's stat (ERA); 25A: Wrapped, as a quarterback (TAPED UP); 26A: States, in the comics (SEZ); 27A: The place to go in London (LOO); 28A: Not as wild (TAMER); 30A: Mid-afternoon, in Milan (TRE); 36A: Southwestern pots (OLLAS); 38A: Curving course (ARC); 40A: Less naive (WISER); 41A: It may involve a twist (FATE); 42A: The pizzeria in "Do the Right Thing" (SAL'S); 43A: Radio spot? (STATION); 55A: "It's possible" ("I MAY"); 57A: The Red or the White (SOX); 58A: Test one's metal (ASSAY); 60A: "Unlock this door!" ("OPEN UP!"); 63A: "Take ___ from me" (A TIP); 65A: India's smallest state (GOA); 67A: Unveiler's cry (TA-DA); 68A: Taken ___ (ILL); 74A: Spark space (GAP); 75A: ___ brand (NAME); 77A: "___ gather" (SO I); 78A: Sight between Tucson and Phoenix (MESA); 79A: Dealership duds of 1959 (EDSELS); 81A: Got down, in a way (KNELT); 83A: U-turn from 93 Across (NNW); 85A: With cal, a supplement combo (MAG); 86A: Pre-Q quartet (MNOP); 93A: U-turn from 83 Across (SSE); 94A: Tough ___ (AS NAILS); 95A: Sax object (REED); 100A: Word that aptly finishes "ni___" (TWITS); 103A: W Texas city, to Amtrak (ELP); 104A: Broadly done, on Broadway (STAGY); 109A: "Old song" preceder (SAME); 111A: Buddy (PAL); 112A: Guy on the Ponderosa set (LORNE); 113A: Rooting word (RAH); 116A: Rummy relative (CANASTA); 118A: ___-inspiring (AWE); 123A: Buddhism branch (ZEN); 124A: Sheet of ice (FLOE); 125A: Parting word (ADIEU); 126A: "___ pray" (LET US); 127A: D.C. summer hrs. (EDT); 128A: In ___ (on the same page) (SYNC); 129A: Enfant terrible Jean (GENET); 1D: A ___ (CAPPELLA); 2D: Shallowest of the Great ones (ERIE); 3D: "Trading Places" director (LANDIS); 4D: It precedes "of A" (THE U.S.); 5D: An ___ moment (AHA); 6D: Blocker and Brown (DANS); 7D: Came to a conclusion (ENDED); 8D: He had a scheme (PONZI); 9D: It's knotworthy? (TIE); 10D: Pet restriction (NO DOGS); 11D: "It's ___ and the same" (ALL ONE); 12D: Last word in gangster lines, in old movies (SEE); 13D: Party throwers (HOSTS); 14D: Geritol target (ANEMIA); 15D: Tell others how to act (DIRECT); 16D: Few and far between (SPARSE); 17D: Threaten, dog-style (SNARL AT); 21D: Preminger et al. (OTTOS); 22D: Ostentatious (SPLASHY); 23D: Tony New York eatery (ELAINE'S); 29D: Initially (AT FIRST); 32D: Big name in Art Deco (ERTÉ); 34D: Furry "Star Wars" being (EWOK); 35D: City mentioned in "Casablanca" (ORAN); 37D: Welcome warmly (ASK IN); 39D: Attacked (CAME AT); 44D: Powwow percussion (TOM-TOM); 45D: Spy of a sort (INSIDE MAN); 47D: Food label letters (RDA); 49D: Outback nesters (EMUS); 50D: Cantina appetizers (TAPAS); 51D: Oft-quoted catcher (YOGI); 52D: Impulse carrier (AXON); 53D: Gas bill info (USAGE); 54D: Tennis star Rafael (NADAL); 59D: Flaps one's gums (YAPS); 60D: Boarish comment (OINK); 61D: Backup strategy (PLAN B); 62D: Hapless hare hunter (ELMER); 64D: Spanish inn (POSADA); 66D: IRS type (AGENT); 70D: Bar ___ (NONE); 73D: Nose wrinkler (ODOR); 76D: Feature of op'nin' and hap'nin' (ELISION); 80D: Football, e.g. (SPORT); 82D: QB sneak results, sometimes (TDS); 84D: "Huh!?" ("WHAT THE!?"); 86D: Big name in networking (MYSPACE); 88D: Is sentenced to (GETS); 89D: She, in Salerno (ESSA); 90D: Word with cover or over (ALLS); 91D: Lunges from a hiding place (LEAPS OUT); 92D: Smooth music sections (LEGATOS); 96D: "Under Milk Wood" poet's first name (DYLAN); 97D: Like Chicago in 1871 (ABLAZE); 99D: Bike shop sign (TO RENT); 101D: Continued without letup (WORE ON); 102D: Shortly (IN A SEC); 104D: "Come to your ___!" (SENSES); 106D: Cuts made by a saw (KERFS); 108D: "Take out" alternative (EAT IN); 110D: Gibbs or Maples (MARLA); 115D: You, to the Amish (THEE); 117D: Complex units?: abbr. (APTS.); 120D: Country singer Joe (ELY); 121D: Really move your tail (WAG); 122D: Rough housing? (HUT).


mac said...

Good puzzle, good write-up! I seem to always like Merle's work. Did you create the pictures of Reese and the Fergies? Unbelievable!

Nice to hear Stevie Ray Vaughn again, guitarist son likes his playing a lot.

JN said...

I like puzzles like this. You do have to think when you are doing them. I especially liked die agnostics and sang to domingo. The picture of Reese with her spoon is fabulous!

Jimmie said...

It was fun. I did not get STAGY, but otherwise a fun thing to do while watching the Dodgers.

Good work, PG

Anonymous said...

I miss Barry. so much. :(

Djinn said...

Why is it that my LAT issue often clues and even titles its puzzles differently than our blog? 86D: Social networking giant vs Big name in networking / 54D: Tennis ace Rafael for Tennis star Rafael / 96D: "I'm Not There" subject instead of "Under Milk Wood" poet's first name. Is it just an editorial decision? The answers jibe, but still I wonder- Why the discrepancy?

ddbmc said...

Elision-my new word of the day! I, too, thought Heckle and Jeckle were crows. Wanted to put Soxs in for Boston team, but the "s" knicks, I mean nixed that! Got the Sox later with Red and White. Canasta is a card game I remember my parents playing, along with pinochle and bridge. They are great stategy games.

Enjoyed the theme answers. Perfect pix of Reese with her spoon! Thanks for the Stevie Ray Vaugh clip, @PG!

shrub5 said...

Enjoyed this one a little more than the syndicated puzzle today. It was fun figuring out the theme answers -- had the hardest time with BRIDGE AHEAD PAY TROLL but got it at last. A couple of errors in the bottom central area, ADIOS for ADIEU and THOU for THEE, along with not knowing GENET, left that area in shambles. Otherwise fairly smooth solve. Oh, but I got burned (again!) by a letter series: 86A) Pre-Q quartet (MNOP) -- had -NOP from crosses before the d'oh moment occurred.

106D) KERFS? I thought something must be wrong here but all the crosses seemed solid -- so that's a new one for me.

Orange said...

@Djinn, I asked Merl about that. The print version is finalized about two weeks before publication, but sometimes Merl tinkers with the clues before finalizing the online version. For example, Merl had second thoughts about including "giant" in the MYSPACE clue, given that MySpace laid off 30% of its workers this summer, so he changed the clue for the online version that the LACC blogging team uses.

Wayne said...

I enjoyed this puzzle. It was challenging but not esoteric.

I know there's been a lot of complaints lately about the Saturday puzzles but in the past it would take me longer to do them than it would the Sunday ones. Now if they could get somewhere in between what they're doing now on Saturday and the Sunday puzzle we might have a winner.

Tuttle said...

86D: Social networking giant vs Big name in networking

I like Social Networking Giant better... the other one had me trying to figure out what two letters to add to Cisco. SI (Systems Incorporated)?