Author: Randall J. Hartman
Theme: Phrases with GA added
- 17a: Trip to Libreville? (GABON VOYAGE). Libreville is the capital and largest city, which makes it fair game.
- 27a: Din when enjoying a cigarette? (SMOKING GUNGA). This clue doesn't work for me at all. "Gunga Din" is the name of a poem. You can't just break it in half and treat each half as a synonym of the other. Well... you can, but I don't have to like it.
- 48a: LSD that's out of this world? (GALACTIC ACID). Drug reference tag.
- 64a: Boost actress Sonia? (PUSH-UP BRAGA). Unsurprisingly, my favorite clue of the bunch. At first I couldn't decide whether to grab a picture of Sonia or of a push-up bra. Turns out I didn't have to choose at all.
I like the theme idea, and most of the theme entries are fine. This is the type of theme that helps a little, in that you know a couple of letters that are going to appear. And sometimes you can suss out an answer if your brain is on the same wavelength. But it doesn't give too much away, which is good.
- 1a: Harridans (HAGS). I'm pretty sure I've seen harridan in puzzles before, but I didn't know what it was right away.
- 22a: "Lady" group (STYX). I didn't even see this clue.
- 23a: Clown employers (RODEOS). Nice clue. Rodeo clowns are those crazy dudes who distract the bull so the rider can get the hell out of there without being trampled on. I know; I have cable.
- 32a: Show featuring hair and fiber expert Nick Stokes (CSI). The name was useless to me, but what other show would feature a hair and fiber expert?
- 35a: Crustacean eater (IBIS). Interesting clue for this one. Not at all my first instinct, but perfectly accurate.
- 36a: Object of an extended quest (GRAIL).
- 37a: "Oy gevalt!" (OH NO). Yeah, you don't hear "oy gevalt" much up in this neck of the woods.
- 57a: Comic strip written by Jerry Scott and illustrated by Jim Borgman (ZITS). I had no idea who wrote or illustrated this strip. But I've seen it, so once the Z was in place it was a gimme.
- 62a: First name in swashbuckling (ERROL). Flynn, of course.
- 63a: "I'm impressed!" (OOH). 66a: Come up short (OWE). I'm vaguely amused by this duo being side by side.
- 70a: Codger (GEEZER). Both excellent words.
- 71a: Thankful closing? (NESS). I misread this clue and went with LESS (as in THANKLESS), which made 51d DARREL instead of DARREN, but it looked okay to me. Those are the tough errors to find.
- 1d: "The Red Rocker" Sammy (HAGAR). I was pretty sure it wasn't Sammy Davis (Jr.)
- 2d: Poplar tree (ALAMO). Went with ASPEN at first, as I expect we were supposed to. Did I know that alamo was a kind of tree? Maybe somewhere in the dark recesses, but it didn't leap out.
- 4d: Calculi (STONES). As a math major, I remember that calculus means stone - I think it may harken back to the abacus, but I could be wrong and I'm too lazy to double-check - so this wasn't too hard. I would have preferred a more brash clue like chutzpah or cajones, though.
- 5d: "Buzzin'" network (MTV). I can't remember the last time I watched anything on MTV. Remember when they actually ran music videos?
- 6d: "The ___ Adventure" (1984 TV movie) (EWOK). Never saw it. The Ewoks were, in my opinion, the lowlight of the entire first trilogy. Luckily for them, the prequel trilogy came out to provide plenty of lowlight competition. Next to Jar Jar Binks, the Ewoks look mighty fine.
- 10d: Change your locks? (DYE). I wasn't fooled on this one for even a second.
- 11d: Cocktail with scotch and Drambuie (RUSTY NAIL). Booze tag! I've heard of this coctail, but never had one. Scotch should be single malt and unadulterated except for a splash of pure water.
- 18d: Rich girl in "90210" (NAOMI). Never watched it, but I had the _AOM_ before I saw the clue, so it was a pretty easy guess.
- 24d: Jerks (SOBS). I'm assuming this is S.O.B.s, as in sons of bitches, as I can't think of a context in which sobbing and jerking are the same.
- 29d: Oldest brother in Hanson (ISAAC). No clue, but again the double-A made it pretty clear.
- 30d: Arizona county that borders Maricopa (GILA). My first instincts were MESA and TAOS, but GILA was a close third.
- 31d: Film composer North who was nominated for 15 Oscars (ALEX). Didn't know it, but never saw the clue until it was all filled in.
- 32d: Where whips can be seen: Abbr. (CONG). In congress, the majority and minority whips are the disciplinarians of their party.
- 33d: Dan Uggla hit the last home run there (SHEA). Never forget that this is a New York-based puzzle.
- 34d: Flustered (IN A LATHER).
- 41d: Place "it's fun to stay at," according to song (YMCA). This is a Monday clue for a Wednesday puzzle.
- 44d: Paleon., e.g. (SCI). Ick. SCI always feels like it's going to be a decent fill when you're making a grid, but its clues tend to be really ugly, like this one.
- 46d: Record marking (SIDE B). Never saw this clue either.
- 50d: Real (IN ESSE). Latin that shows up enough to remember.
- 51d: Running back McFadden (DARREN). Had DARREL, due to my above-mentioned misread of 71a.
- 55d: "Animal House" party wear (TOGAS). My first-ever R-rated film. It still holds a special place in my memories.
- 58d: Big Ten wrestling powerhouse (IOWA). If you say so. Still, I got it right away.
- 60d: Cheez ___ (WHIZ). Almost worthy of a potty humor tag, but not quite.
- 61d: Pull some strings? (TUNE). Cute.
- 64d: Breed sometimes crossed with a beagle (PUG). What breed isn't sometimes crossed with a beagle? Granted, some combinations are harder to envision that others, but love works in strange ways.
Suns of Bitches:
- 21a: Boutros's successor at the U.N. (KOFI) crossing 7d: Singer with the Grammy-winning R&B album "Because of You" (NEYO) is just mean. Even if you know one or both, crossing KOFI and NEYO at a vowel should give you pause. Throw in 5a: Knit (MENDED), which could just as easily have been MELDED and you've got yourself a pretty nasty section for a Wednesday puzzle.
Except for the KOFI/NEYO/ME(L|N)DED sector and the GUNGA DIN theme entry, no major complaints.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.