[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.]
- 22A: Fruity beer? (MULBERRY BUSCH).
- 34A: Aftershave impact? (BRUT FORCE).
- 37A: Ponderings from behind a plow? (DEERE DIARY).
- 52A: Half a cereal swap? (TRIX OF THE TRADE).
- 79A: Popular vodka-drinking locale (BIG SKYY COUNTRY).
- 98A: Camera in need of screw-tightening (LOOSE CANON).
- 101A: Habitual depilatory cream user? (NEET FREAK).
- 113A: Breakfast for the road? (TRAVELERS CHEX).
Doug here. Fun theme today! I've seen constructors use TRIX, KIX, and CHEX puns in a 15x15 grid, but I like the way Don G. takes it to the next level. Nice job.
My favorite theme entry was BIG SKYY COUNTRY at 79 Across, because "Big Sky Country" is one of Montana's nicknames, and I'm a Montana guy. Then I noticed that HANNAH is the answer to 78 Across. Look at that row in the grid: HANNAH / BIG SKYY COUNTRY. It's a hidden tribute to Hannah Montana! I should also point out that HANNAH crosses TRASHY at 52 Down.
- 21A: "People might be listening" (NOT HERE). Great clue/entry combo.
- 49A: Coffee ord. (REG). This confused me. Finally figured out it was REGular, a coffee order. I thought "ord." was short for "ordinance" and REG was short for "regulation." You don't want to be caught breaking one of those coffee ordinances.
- 87A: "Don't try to be ___" (A HERO). This video speaks for itself.
- 120A: Clothing category (CASUALS). I don't categorize my clothes, but if I did, "casuals" would be the major category.
- 121A: Steps over fences (STILES). A stile is "a set or series of steps for crossing a fence or wall." I remember learning this word from the book Split Infinity by Piers Anthony. The main character is named Stile. Wow, I can't believe that book is 30 years old. I should probably read it again.
- 1D: Pitcher Galarraga who lost a perfect game on an umpire's bad call (ARMANDO). The best baseball story of 2010. If you're not familiar with the details, this article is a good place to start. Galarraga and the ump, Jim Joyce, are both class acts.
- 11D: Big name in brewing (ANHEUSER). Too bad this didn't cross MULBERRY BUSCH.
- 20D: One was lost in a film about Indiana (ARK). Nice clue!
- 83D: Baseball's Garciaparra (NOMAR). Nomar is his father's name, Ramon, spelled backwards.
- 116A: Pounder of "Avatar" (CCH). Yep, there's an actress named CCH Pounder. I wonder if she named any of her kids HCC.
- 26A: Extinct "great" bird (AUK).
- 42A: B'way sellout sign (SRO).
- 58A: Scrawny toon dog (REN).
- 108A: Mauna ___ (KEA).
- 73D: Versatile WWII ships (LSTS).
- 76D: Sci-fi play written in Czech (RUR).
- 99D: Hungarian spa city (EGER).