S U N D A Y   December 26, 2010
Kathleen Fay O'Brien (syndicated)

Theme: "Many Happy Returns" — The last word in each theme answer is "returned," resulting in wacky phrases.

[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 answers:
  • 23A: "Honest, Professor, I studied very hard for this test"? (ALLEGED PREP).
  • 25A: Visibly shaken king? (PALE REGAL).
  • 37A: Rejection at McDonalds? (HAMBURGER SNUB).
  • 64A: Error that just got bigger? (DILATED SLIPUP).
  • 91A: What Red Riding Hood wisely didn't do? (GO WITH THE WOLF).
  • 109A: Green poet? (OLIVE BARD).
  • 112A: Effect of Pepe Le Pew battling a romantic rival? (DOUBLE STINK).
  • 40D: Quick look across the moat? (CASTLE PEEK).
  • 45D: Fowl injustice? (TURKEY TORT).
Doug here, wishing you a Happy Boxing Day! I hope you're having fun with boxes or whatever you're supposed to do today.

I thought the title was clever, but I hope none of you are actually going to the mall to return gifts today. A complete nightmare. Stay home and do the puzzle. The first theme entry was the oddest, playing off the term ALLEGED PERP. That's not a phrase I hear much. HAMBURGER BUNS, GO WITH THE FLOW, OLIVE DRAB, etc., were more familiar.

  • 40A: Things used in semi circles? (CBS). I loved this clue. Do truckers still use CBs, or do they all talk on cell phones now?
  • 43A: Bucky, in "Get Fuzzy" (PET CAT). "Get Fuzzy" is a comic strip that people tell me I should like, but I rarely find it funny. I'm more of a "Pearls Before Swine" fan. Here's a picture of my pet cat. I can never get her to look at the camera.
  • 47A: Concludes (ENDS). Nope, I don't have anything to say about this entry, but I need to fill some space before I insert a picture for 48A. This blogging stuff is harder than it appears.
  • 48A: Photographing giraffes, perhaps (ON SAFARI). Hey, looks like my cat is about to pounce on that giraffe.
  • 79A: Harlem sch. (CCNY). Short for City College of New York. I tried SUNY and CSNY and some other combos before I got it.
  • 81A: Princess born on Polis Massa (LEIA). I don't think this was covered in PuzzleGirl's hilarious "Star Wars" video yesterday.
  • 95A: Betty Grable's were insured (LEGS). I remember watching MTV all day waiting for this video to come on. Kids have it easy today with their fancy YouTube!
  • 4D: Tough test metaphor (A BEAR). "That test was a bear!"
  • 34D: Novus ___ seclorum: Great Seal motto (ORDO). Check the back of a dollar bill. It's under that scary pyramid with the eye on top.
  • 38D: Lick (BEAT).
  • 51D: Chicago Sting org. (NASL). That'd be the North American Soccer League, which went under in 1984, so don't feel bad if you've never heard of it. The league had a team called the Washington Diplomats. That's even less intimidating than "Senators."
  • 88D: "Overnight" surprise for some (STARDOM). This was an interesting clue. I had all kinds of weird ideas running through my head before I got the answer. My pet cat's overnight surprises usually involve a dead animal left on my bed
OK, it's still Christmas night for me, so I'm outta here. Have a great rest of the weekend.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 107D: Tony's cousin (OBIE).
Everything Else — 1A: Hussein : Obama :: __ : Garfield (ABRAM); 6A: Comforter (DUVET); 11A: Taking badly? (ABDUCTION); 20A: Dunces (BOOBS); 21A: Informal bid (ONE NO); 22A: Zap (MICROWAVE); 26A: Circus leaper (FLEA); 27A: Ad gp. (AGCY.); 28A: U.S. tender (DOLS.); 30A: Oddly amusing (DROLL); 31A: It affects your take-home pay (TAX RATE); 33A: Civil War authority Shelby (FOOTE); 35A: Per (A POP); 50A: Reunion attendees (ALUMS); 51A: Technology prefix (NANO-); 52A: Pico de gallo holders (TACOS); 54A: Pronto, to execs (ASAP); 55A: Scarlett's refuge (TARA); 56A: Like granola (OATY); 57A: Deck out (ARRAY); 58A: Bar orders for the calorie-conscious (LITES); 59A: Laser alternatives (INK JETS); 61A: Expected to land (DUE IN); 62A: Gloomy atmosphere (PALL); 63A: Dedicated verse (ODE); 68A: PC panic button (ESC); 71A: The "Y" in YSL (YVES); 73A: Wise guys (SAGES); 74A: Detailed (INDEPTH); 76A: Unlock the door for (LET IN); 78A: House reporter? (C-SPAN); 82A: Love, to Caesar (AMOR); 83A: Acts skittish (SHIES); 84A: Vidal's Breckinridge (MYRA); 85A: Lurches (REELS); 86A: Fighting practice (WAR GAMES); 88A: Kemo __ (SABE); 89A: Like the Finger of Fate on "Laugh-In" (FICKLE); 90A: Friday, e.g.: Abbr. (SGT.); 96A: Show again (REAIR); 97A: Source of inside info? (CAT SCAN); 102A: Suite spot (HOTEL); 105A: "Mr. Mom" actress (GARR); 106A: Do some bartending (POUR); 108A: Wrist-to-elbow bone (ULNA); 115A: Pretends to be what one isn't (LIVES A LIE); 116A: All, to Caesar (OMNIA); 117A: Els on the links (ERNIE); 118A: Backyard buildings (TOOL SHEDS); 119A: One you might not want to meet? (MAKER); 120A: Carried on (WAGED); 1D: Sternward (ABAFT); 2D: Italian vintner (BOLLA); 3D: Subject of the book "The Best of Time" (ROLEX); 5D: Stir-fry additive (MSG); 6D: Former bumper car trademark (DODGE M); 7D: Like "waitress," e.g. (UN-P.C.); 8D: "Ha ha" ("VERY FUNNY"); 9D: L.A.-to-N.Y. dir. (ENE); 10D: Champs (TOP DOGS); 11D: More copious (AMPLER); 12D: Preconception (BIAS); 13D: MCCC halved (DCL); 14D: Cult following? (-URE); 15D: City on the Guadalquivir River (CORDOBA); 16D: Insignificant one (TWERP); 17D: Othello's betrayer (IAGO); 18D: Like many a palette (OVAL); 19D: "Little" Dickens girl (NELL); 24D: Bother (EAT AT); 29D: Suffix with Capri (-OTE); 32D: Cries of clarity (AHAS); 35D: Bother (ANNOY); 36D: Kisser (PUSS); 39D: "Me too!" ("SO CAN I!"); 41D: Bluff in Banff (BRAE); 42D: Small samplings (SIPS); 43D: House party setting (PATIO); 44D: Serengeti grazer (ELAND); 46D: Key of Bizet's most popular sym. (C MAJ.); 49D: Bomb (FAIL); 52D: Hair piece (TRESS); 53D: Seed covering (ARIL); 56D: Publisher Chandler (OTIS); 57D: "September 1, 1939" poet (AUDEN); 58D: Lt. Columbo's employer (LAPD); 60D: Starting place? (EDEN); 61D: Painter of ballerinas (DEGAS); 62D: Small and weak (PUNY); 65D: St. Clare's town (ASSISI); 66D: Word with deck or drive (TAPE); 67D: __ colada (PIÑA); 69D: Unmoving (STILL); 70D: Scene with stuntmen (CHASE); 72D: Shenandoah Natl. Park site (VIRG.); 75D: Wire service?: Abbr. (ELEC.); 76D: Code contents, maybe (LAWS); 77D: Webzine (E-MAG); 78D: Scolds, with "out" (CHEWS); 79D: High tech/lowlife sci-fi genre (CYBERPUNK); 80D: Hands across the water? (CREW); 83D: Skyline obscurer (SMOG); 84D: Half a fish (MAHI); 85D: Falling-out (RIFT); 87D: Eternal (AGELESS); 89D: Turnpike alert (FLARE); 92D: Sports page deals (TRADES); 93D: Ship designation (HER); 94D: Eye-related (OCULAR); 95D: Flatten (LEVEL); 98D: Kama __ (SUTRA); 99D: Stick (CLING); 100D: "Tomorrow" musical (ANNIE); 101D: Starkers, across the pond (NAKED); 102D: Romance novelist Victoria (HOLT); 103D: Eclectic assortment (OLIO); 104D: Show recorder (TIVO); 105D: Crisscross pattern (GRID); 110D: Dissatisfied cry (BAH); 111D: Bar quaff (ALE); 113D: Medical suffix (-OMA); 114D: Alter, perhaps (SEW).


Anonymous said...

This pisses me off. I usually get the theme at least halfway through, but I had to look this up after I was done. It was clever, but I missed it!

imsdave said...

Not much to say about this. Perfectly fine Sunday fare. This is a tough weekend for folks with all the Christmas activities, so it's understandable that the blog traffic is so low. I, for one, applaud Doug for his (very fine) takes on the the Sunday LAT, and will assume that the low comment count is due to the season.

Thanks Doug and Ms. O'Brien

Doug P said...

Thanks, Dave! You're the best.

Rube said...

In case you were wondering, like me, ABRAM is president Garfield's middle name. (And, like me, you forgot Obama's middle name.) FWIW, it is also the first name of his son.

I had one more theme answer to go when I finally figured out the theme. Not sure whether that's good or bad. Was not particularly excited about the randomness of the rearranged letters at the ends. Was really displeased to see EATAT again in a puzzle... my pet peeve.

Did this while watching the 49ers' season come to an ignominious end... again.

Happy Boxer Day.

Rube said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CrazyCat said...

I just didn't have the time to get more than half way through the puzzle today so I don't have anything to comment on. I do want to say thanks to you Doug for filling in and producing such a nice write up when I'm sure you're very busy doing your own holiday stuff. Cheers!

Eric said...

I liked the theme, and got it early, so it helped a lot.

Even so, this puzzle was A BEAR! Total natick at PET CAT x C MAJ. Bucky could well have been a PET BAT for all I knew -- the name even hints at bucktoothedness, which is how I picture bats. And what's with UNPC? Oh, I get it -- un-politically-correct. Grrr, now I'm ANNOYed. And I found it inconsistent, and so confusing, that 11-A was a cryptic clue, the same length -- and in the same block -- as theme answer 25-A, but wasn't itself a theme answer.

It was Tenn. that defeated me, though, fair and square. I had CuNY for CCNY (knew it wasn't suNY, because that has a campus at Buffalo, but still...), and I misspelled Kemo SABE as SABi. Those two errors gave me uRiW for 8D-D, which was too messed up for me to be able to see the forest for the trees.

@Doug: I liked your writeup for 47-A :-) Let's hear it for honesty! (Minor quibble: it's not DODGE M for bumper cars, but "Dodgem" -- one word. Compressed and ill-punctuated "dodge 'em", I guess, but brand names will be brand names :-/) Thanks for coming in on the holiday.

If Bucky from "Get Fuzzy" gets sick, he'll have to go in for a PET CAT SCAN ... or maybe a CAT PET SCAN :-)


Well here it is... it's Monday night and I just finished yesterday's puzzle. I thought Ms. O'Brien did a masterful job in constructing this VERY DIFFICULT puzzle. Took me forever to complete, but I'm glad I slogged through it. It always feels good when I eventually finish a puzzle without the need for any Googling. I sure appreciate Doug's devotion in providing not only informative Sunday writeups, but also amusing stuff (like the Boxing Day humor and the cool vid clips). Thanks, Doug. The holiday weekend was just too much for me to be working through weekend-level puzzles.
Chuckling at @Eric's comments above.
Now I get to sip some rum flavored coffee, have Christmas cookies, and just relax working out Doug's Christmas puzzle.