July 31, 2011
[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: "Oohs and Aahs" — "Ooh" sounds are changed to "aah" sounds in familiar phrases.
- 21A: Charity that rewards golf talent? (ALMS FOR THE PAR).
- 33A: Treat a Saudi king with TLC? (COMFORT FAHD).
- 56A: Timid officer? (CHICKEN COP).
- 67A: Miniature B-17? (BABY BOMBER).
- 88A: Hall of Famer Warren after garage work? (GREASY SPAHN).
- 106A: Padding in an Easter basket? (CHOCOLATE MOSS).
- 15D: Stuffy trio? (THE THREE STODGES).
- 41D: Onset of boredom? (BIRTH OF THE BLAHS).
I'm betting the names Fahd and Spahn caused problems for some solvers, but the rest of the answers are right over the plate. My favorite is CHOCOLATE MOSS. Mmmm, chocolate moss. OK, it sounds a little gross, but I can guarantee it'd taste better than marshmallow Peeps. I never ate the Peeps in my Easter basket. I'd save them for a few weeks until they got rock-hard, and then I'd smash them on the driveway. The ants loved it.
- 24A: ___ Rebellion" 1786-'87 insurrection (SHAYS'). I remember the name from high school history class, but I couldn't tell you a thing about it. I'll read up on it later.
- 28A: Stitching on Li'l Abner's towel? (HIS'N). Why would hillbillies, or anyone else, say "his'n & her'n" instead of "his & hers"? Does it have something to do with "my" and "mine"? I have more questions than answers so far.
- 33A: Treat a Saudi king with TLC? (COMFORT FAHD). Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was the King of Saudi Arabia from 1982-2005. And the fact that there are still countries ruled by kings blows my mind.
- 60A: All-time RBI leader (AARON). Hank Aaron, with 2,297 runs batted in.
- 74A: NYC-based securities gp. (ASE). I'm assuming this is short for American Stock Exchange, more commonly known as AMEX. Is this a better clue than the usual "Enzyme ending"?
- 75A: After-school treats (OREOS). Also great before and during school.
- 79A: Did well on the quiz (GOT A B). I know I've commented on this entry before. It's not completely horrible. (Although some might get confused and think it's supposed to be "Go, Tab!") But it opens up the door to so many other questionable entries: GOT AN A, GET A D, GETS A C, etc, etc. We constructors need to nip this in the bud.
- 88A: Hall of Famer Warren after garage work? (GREASY SPAHN). (Lots of baseball in this bullet. Skip ahead if you can't handle it.) Warren Spahn racked up 363 wins in 21 seasons, more than any other left-handed pitcher. You may recognize his name from the rhyme: "Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain." It was inspired by the performance of Spahn and his teammate, pitcher Johnny Sain, during the Boston Braves' 1948 pennant drive. From Wikipedia: "The team swept a Labor Day doubleheader, with Spahn throwing a complete 14-inning win in the opener, and Sain pitching a shutout in the second game. Following two off-days, it did rain. Spahn won the next day, and Sain won the day after that. Three days later, Spahn won again. Sain won the next day. After one more off-day, the two pitchers were brought back and won another doubleheader. The two pitchers had gone 8–0 in 12 days' time." Not bad. The Yankees are going to try something like that in this year's play-offs: "C.C. Sabathia and pray for a monsoon."
- 94A: Hall of Fame pool player ___ Mataya Laurance (EWA). Seems obscure, but I knew this one. I enjoy watching billiards on TV sometimes. Ms. Laurance was born in Sweden, and her nickname is one of the coolest in all of sports: "The Striking Viking."
- 114A: Words on some Montana license plates (BIG SKY). Awesome.
- 9D: Reach for the Skyy, excessively (TOPE). Skyy vodka. Cute clue.
- 22D: "Bananaphone" singer (RAFFI). No video will be provided. I tried YANNI first. Yanni and Raffi occupy the same spot in my brain. It's a spot I'd like to have removed.
- 36D: Rapper ___ Shakur (TUPAC). Here's an entry from the first real 15x15 puzzle I ever constructed: ITUPAC. I believe I clued it as "Start of a rapper's formal statement" or some such nonsense. And I had the audacity to criticize Neville's use TIR of yesterday. Shocking.
- 63D: Bond nemesis (SMERSH). Group that opposes Bond, James Bond. Apparently SMERSH is an acronym from two Russian words and means "Death to Spies". I'd rather join KAOS.