[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: "Subtraction" — The letter string "ION" is literally subtracted from familiar phrases, leading to zany theme answers.
- 23A: "Most Difficult Woman" pageant title? (MISS IMPOSSIBLE).
- 35A: What Nadia Comaneci gave her Olympic opponents? (TENS HEADACHE).
- 57A: Batch of itch reliever? (CALAMINE LOT).
- 79A: Native American Washington baseballer? (CHEROKEE NAT).
- 99A: Timeless witticism? (PERPETUAL MOT).
- 118A: Deal between thugs? (MUSCLE CONTRACT).
- 16D: Restrictions on Cupid? (EROS CONTROL).
- 69D: Number in an Amtrak report? (RAILWAY STAT).
- 22A: 1939 retiree who said "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth (GEHRIG). One of the greatest baseball moments of all time. And today I'm thinking about a 2011 retiree, Andy Pettitte. He's no Gehrig, but it's sad (for Yankee fans) to realize that we'll never see him on the mound again. And I'm reminded that we'll only have another season or two of Jorge Posada and three or four more of Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera, on the the other hand, will pitch forever.
- 27A: Nashville-to-Louisville direction (NNE). I've never once figured out an "X-to-Y direction" clue. I always get them from the crossers.
- 64A: Sm., med. or lge. (ADJ). All three of those words are adjectives. Were you fooled?
- 79A: Native American Washington baseballer? (CHEROKEE NAT). D.C.'s baseball team is called the Nationals, or the Nats, for short. And I know PuzzleGirl is the proud owner of an official Stephen Strasburg t-shirt. OK, I promise that's the last baseball-related comment of the day.
- 83A: Hall of Famer Sandberg (RYNE). More baseball? I thought this was Super Bowl Sunday.
- 90A: Fail to take the heat? (MELT). Great clue. I thought it was going to have something to do with guns.
- 107A: Speed, for a running back (ASSET). There's a football clue! I assume the running backs in today's game (whoever they are) are indeed speedy.
- 124A: Kobe mat (TATAMI). I thought they snuck in a basketball clue on us, but this one refers to the Japanese city of Kobe.
- 9D: Acting like one has something to hide (TWITCHY). Coolest word in the puzzle.
- 43D: Starting Miami quarterback in three straight '70s Super Bowls (GRIESE). Now that's an awesome clue for Super Bowl Sunday. Bob Griese was the winning quarterback in Super Bowls VII and VIII. His son Brian won a ring for Super Bowl XXXIII, but he didn't play in the game.
- 51D: French card game (ÉCARTÉ). I just read an interesting article on écarté in the latest (April 2011) issue of Games magazine. It was a big deal in the 19th century.
- 70D: Iowa's ___ City (SIOUX). What? It's not Iowa City, home of the Hawkeyes? I'm shocked.
- 88D: Subject of a "Rigoletto" duet (VENDETTA). I love the entry, though the clue gave me no help.
- 94D: "Jersey Shore" airer (MTV). From "Rigoletto" to "Jersey Shore." Only in a crossword puzzle!
- 100D: DeMille specialty (EPIC). Am I the only person who thinks of the Dutch band Epica whenever I see EPIC in a puzzle? Yes, I believe I am.
- 115A: Ignore a Time change? (STET). I love this Time magazine-related clue for the usually boring STET. To an editor, DELE means "take something out" and STET means "put it back in." Something like that. I only know these words from crosswords.