Jul 20, 2017

Thursday, July 20 2017 Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel

Theme: My advice to you is to start drinking heavily ...

63A. 1978 misfit comedy ... and something hidden in each answer to a starred clue : ANIMAL HOUSE

And thus we find:

17A. *Felt-covered gaming equipment : CRAPS TABLES. I think this is pretty cool - have you ever tried to play Craps on an unstable table? Usually for-charity fun, but I like the solid lean-on-with-the-elbows tables in Vegas. I usually don't like the eventual outcome.

39A. *What may be moved by a fan : COOL AIR. I had my A/C replaced last month. Now I have cool air, not hot and humid air. Came at a price, but I'm not complaining.

11D. *Dr Pepper Museum locale : WACO, TEXAS Thank you, crosses. TEXAS emerged pretty quickly, WACO took a while due to some half-a**ed attempts at 19A and 22A that were so off the mark I can't even remember what I was thinking.

32D. *Result of a Merlot mishap : WINE STAIN. Fun clue. Cabernet catastrophe? Pinot ... ?

Darn, I wish I thought of this theme. Acrosses, downs, a theme reveal and all sorts of fun in the fill. Agnes (aka Irish Miss) takes the lead role in this collaboration with C.C. I ran through this one counter-clockwise and finally ended up at CON. A circuitous route indeed.

I'm coming off ten days of antibiotics due to some dental scraping and poking and not a glass of wine to be seen, so tonight is my first-thought theme night. I'll go lightly though.

Let's take a tour:


1. Held in check : AT BAY. Took my check? eBay.

6. Spot for a Fitbit : WRIST. My wrist usually sports a Koa wood and titanium bracelet from Hawaii which was given to me as a birthday gift when I was on Maui. I love it.

11. Practical joker : WAG

14. __ diem : CARPE. I can't see this without remembering Robin Williams in "The Dead Poets' Society".

15. Shade-loving ornamental : HOSTA

16. Polished off : ATE

19. Hoodwink : CON

20. Reality TV host Mike : ROWE. He also narrates "Deadliest Catch". With a great theme song. Mike is a talented dude.

21. Fit to __ : A TEE. Speaking of which, The Open Championship tees off today. Any early picks for the winner? I'm torn.

22. Grey Goose rival : STOLI. Super-minor grump, but "Stoli" is not the name of the vodka, it's an affectionate moniker. If I'm in a bar, I'd be offered "Goose" or "Stoli". Actually, let's elevate this to a minor grump  because I took the clue literally and tried to make "Siroc" work. B-Minus.

24. Coca-Cola Company headquarters : ATLANTA

26. Seuss' shelled reptile : TERTLE Thank you, crosses. Update: YERTLE

27. Daughter of Michelle and Barack : SASHA. First Daughter?

29. "Hard __!": sailor's cry : A-LEE! Shorthand for "We're toast! Put the stern into the wind and hope that we don't take the mast off with a gybe!" Bon Chance.

30. Not as many : FEWER. Quick! Supermarket checkout - Ten Items or ...... which? Less? Fewer?

33. Team on the field : OXEN. My high school soccer team. We were slow.

35. Midterm, e.g. : EXAM

38. NPR's Shapiro : ARI

42. Bio stat : AGE

43. Grammy : NANA. Not a music award? Dang!

45. UPS driver's assignments : RTES. Splynter and my brother know all about these.

46. Match play? : ARSON. Fun clue

48. Nights before : EVES - Christmas, New Year - more fun than the actual holiday

50. Home of Aleppo : SYRIA

52. Where to find wheels and deals : CASINO. Roulette wheels and card dealers. I know a bartender at the Universal City Hilton who was a dealer in Las Vegas. He keeps a deck of cards under the counter. Ask him to deal you a flush, or a pair, or an Ace-King and off he goes. Amazing.

54. Capelike garments : PONCHOS

58. Collar attachment : ID TAG. Pooches, not combatants.

59. Jessica of "Hitchcock" : BIEL

61. ATM output : CASH. Beats the "Insufficent Funds" receipt.

62. Tazo product : TEA. Starbucks, I think? Tea, not Coffee.

66. Nutmeg State collegian : ELI. Yale, in Connecticut. Which I now learn is the "Nutmeg State". Excuse me while I read the fascinating story of this nickname.

67. Big dos : GALAS. Darn! Tried "FETES", wasn't.

68. Ancient Anatolian region : IONIA

69. Rubio's title: Abbr. : SEN.

70. Foe : ENEMY

71. Type in : ENTER


1. African capital near the prime meridian : ACCRA. 350-odd miles away, close enough:

2. Fortune-teller? : TAROT. I had a set in my younger days. Wrapped the deck in purple silk as per instructions. Smoked some weed. Put Pink Floyd or Genesis on the record deck. Told fortunes. Was wrong. Don't underestimate the experts (equally wrong).

3. Barroom mix-up : BRAWL. Now you're talking. An Irish tradition. Two of my uncles had a minor contretemps at my Dad's wake. Blows were not quite (quite!) struck.

4. Pacify : APPEASE. See above. Two minutes later, all was forgotten.

5. "That's right" : YES!

6. "Too funny!" : WHAT A HOOT!

7. Loungewear item : ROBE. Not me. Hugh Hefner?

8. Man or Manhattan : ISLE. How do you spell "heeeehuuughhhhhhh maybe?" Manhattan Island. Isle of Man. I know they're both "Isles" but ach - let's let this one go.

9. Jeanne d'Arc, e.g.: Abbr. : STE. If she was a man, she'd be Jean D'Arc and an St. I'm watching the Tour de France at the moment while I'm on the treadmill for inspiration - what a beautiful country.

10. Top of a cornstalk : TASSEL. Had the British TASSLE/TASSEL conflict. Guessed right.

12. Ring-shaped coral reef : ATOLL

13. Garage door opener brand : GENIE. Open, Sesame! And put some lox and cream cheese on that sesame bagel. And some red onions while you're about it. And a slice of tomato. Oh, and some scrambled eggs and chopped scallions on the plate. Can I get some black pepper please? Finally, breakfast is served. Food! Oh - where's my coffee?

18. Puddies, to Tweety : TATS. I tawt ....

23. Family __ : TREE

25. Certain undercover cop : NARC

26. Golfer Tseng who's the youngest player to win five major championships : TANI. Update: YANI. crosses, thank you. Here she is, the immensely-talented golfer:

28. Car bars : AXLES. Fun clue.

30. One of the faithful : FAN. I'm a Chelsea fan, I'm not sure I'm one of a few these days, but back in the 70's there were a hardcore few of us watching a losing team in the rain at the wrong end of the Fulham Road. I think the Dog Track that surrounded the pitch made more money than the professional soccer team. How times change.

31. Reliever's stat : ERA. Hey C.C!

34. "Piece of cake!" : EASY PEASY! Lemon Squeezy!

36. Gone by : AGO

37. Popes and cardinals, but not nuns : MEN

40. Approximately : OR SO

41. Drops from above : RAIN

44. Nike competitor : AVIA

47. Rocky in a Beatles title : RACCOON. OK. A throwaway song? There were plenty, for all the adoration the Beatles attracted.

49. Captivate : ENGAGE

51. Get moving : ROLL

52. Quotes : CITES. I've been writing some academic papers recently. I'm really quite done with citations. I never want to see the APA Publication Guide again in my life. Really.

53. Simpson of fashion : ADELE.

55. Place to hang : HAUNT

56. Actor Davis : OSSIE

57. Shave, as sheep : SHEAR. Complete the first part of this joke:
Wow, mate, back in NZ we shear our sheep!!
Nah mate, here in Oz we're got plenty for one each!

Badaboom. I'm here all week.

59. Anger : BILE

60. Muslim holy man : IMAM

64. Chicken vindaloo go-with : NAN. Food! Near and dear to my heart, I can't not post a picture:

65. Make tracks, old-style : HIE

Blog? Check.
Grid? Check.
Theme Expo? Check.

Steve? Hasta Proxima Semana! Homework done? Check!

Jul 19, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017, Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski

TITLE: Sometimes you feel like a nut...

Bruce and Gail have given us a fun and straightforward Wednesday exercise with five theme fills and no reveal necessary. As the title indicates their five themers were two-word phrases where the first syllable of the first word began with an N and a T for the third letter, In between Bruce and Gail have inserted the vowels in sequential order. Pretty cool!

Theme Answers

17. Innate talent : NATURAL APTITUDE - I'm gonna say Samuel Rashevsky had this when he played and beat these masters at eight-years-old in 1920

22. Broadcaster's transmission to affiliated stations : NETWORK FEED - Fewer and fewer people are taking the NETWORK FEED and are watching over the, uh,  NET

39. Sharp-smelling air pollutant : NITROGEN DIOXIDE - NO2 is a big contributor to this smog over Mexico City

49. Hardly any time at all : NOTHING FLAT - He was there quickly but Arriba means Hooray, so he must have gotten great joy in running. BTW, this is not a slogan for a plastic surgeon.

60. With "The," Tchaikovsky work that ends with "Waltz of the Flowers" : NUTCRACKER SUITE - So that's NUTCRACKER when it is danced in Milan

NAT asked, "Am I a NUT or will this fun puzzle NET NOT one NITHere is the balance of this just right Bruce and Gail puzzle.


1. Lower in price : LESS - Are you really shopping for the lowest price for this?

5. Try : TASTE

10. Nutmeg spice : MACE - Different parts of the same seed (not a nut)

14. Actor La Salle : ERIQ

15. Crams, with "up" : BONES

16. Sea of __: Black Sea arm : AZOV

20. "Wicked Game" singer Chris : ISAAK

21. Shuttle flight phase : REENTRY - Phase when the Columbia disaster occurred

25. "My gal" of song : SAL

26. Carpentry joints : MITERS

31. Barbecue accessory : SPIT - Ya couldn't think of a better name? 

35. "I Put a Spell on You" singer Simone : NINA

38. Full range : GAMUT - Bruce and Gail ran the GAMUT of vowels (okay, not Y but...)

42. Writer of tales with talking animals : AESOP 

43. Dental alternatives to pastes : GELS - Even for our 4-legged friends -->

44. Angers : IRES

45. Fireplace inserts : GRATES

47. Springfield presidential library nickname : ABE - Honestly!

56. Legendary Rhine siren : LORELEI - I have cruised on the Rhine but did not hear the Siren Song

59. Cruller coating : GLAZE

63. Physics particle : ATOM

64. French term of endearment : CHERE - Mon CHÈRE, 
passons à la suite de Casse-Noisette (My dear, let's go to the (same as in Italian above) Suite?

65. List component : ITEM

66. Tiny sound : PEEP

67. County near London : ESSEX - Home to Southend-on-Sea, Colchester and Chipping Ongar

68. Mil. medals : DSCS - 70 years later the country presented the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to Lt. Donald Schwab of Hooper, NE. His son Dr. Terry Schwab accepted. 


1. Russian Revolution leader : LENIN - "I'll take Russian Leaders for $2,000, Alex." "The answer is, 'Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was referring to this when he chose Lenin as a pseudonym.'"  "What is the Lena River?" "Correct!"

2. Backspace, perhaps : ERASE

3. Occupy, as a desk : SIT AT - What I could never do when I taught.

4. __ Valley, Calif.: 1960 Winter Olympics site : SQUAW - At this Olympics, Jean Vuarnet became to first person to win gold on metal skis instead of traditional wood

5. Sched. uncertainty : TBA

6. Big name in ISPs : AOL - Didn't everyone in America get at least one of these free disks in the 90's?

7. Wolf (down) : SNARF

8. Conical shelter : TEPEE - I had a geography prof who had women in our class put up a TEPEE as was done by many Native-American cultures as seen in this depiction of Blackfeet. BTW, that wouldn't fly at this house 

9. Regard highly : ESTEEM

10. Damon of "We Bought a Zoo" : MATT

11. Blue sky color, in Calais : AZUR

12. Showman Buffalo Bill : CODY - He built a great house in North Platte, Nebraska called Scout's Rest Ranch

13. Morn's counterpart : EVE

18. Bygone theaters : RKOS - Can you find the RKO symbol on this poster for what is called "America's greatest movie"?

19. Spectrum shade : INDIGO - ROY G BIV

23. Jingled : RANG

24. __ light: filming tool : KLIEG

27. Roll along the runway : TAXI - Returning to the gate after TAXIING is disheartening 

28. Qatari ruler : EMIR

29. Far from polite : RUDE

30. Some Fr. martyrs : STES - Women should be eligible to be priests, cardinals and popes not just STES (Saints)

31. Unexpected obstacle : SNAG

32. Harbor sight : PIER

33. "__ deal!" : IT'S A

34. Run leisurely : TROT

36. Storm direction: Abbr. : NNE - Nor'easter!

37. Dwight's opponent : ADLAI - I loved when ADLAI, as JFK's U.N. Ambassador, told the Russians he was willing to wait "until hell freezes over" for their answer on misses in Cuba.

40. Swiss army knife tool : OPENER - Wait a minute, oh, there it is!

41. Copyright pg. ID : ISBN - The International Standard Book Number for this book by our talented editor Rich Norris is 1402775806

46. Comfort in grief : SOLACE

48. Flan ingredients : EGGS

50. Computer repair experts : TECHS - Remember those guys you made fun of in school? 

51. Backpacking activities : HIKES

52. Transmission lubricant : FLUID

53. Milks, in Marseilles : LAITS - Quatre grandes bouteilles de LAIT (Four large bottles of milk)

54. Tenochtitlán native : AZTEC

55. Abounds (with) : TEEMS

56. Minstrel's instrument : LUTE

57. Plains native : OTOE

58. Law gp. that now only uses horses for ceremonial events : RCMP - RCMP member Dudley Do-Right's horse was named, uh, Horse

60. Go out for a bit? : NAP

61. Ode preposition : ERE

62. "Toy Story" dinosaur : REX

The Grid:

Comment at wall, I mean well, I mean will:

Jul 18, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 Howard Barkin

Theme: Getting your just desserts - No pie, let them eat CAKE.

57A. Simple thing to do ... and what each starred clue's answer ends with?: PIECE OF CAKE

20A. *Moon's alleged makeup: GREEN CHEESE. Cheese cake.

40A. *Indian spiced drink: CHAI TEA. Tea cake.

11D. *Pre-euro Dublin currency: IRISH POUND. Pound cake.

29D. *Loofah: BATH SPONGE. Sponge cake.

Argyle here. Pinwheel grid. Pleasing.


1. "Get outta here!": "SCRAM!"

6. Computers with Apple cores: MACs

10. Designer Ricci: NINA. Nina Ricci. A fashion house founded by Maria "Nina" Ricci and her son Robert in Paris in 1932. Wiki link

14. Slip 'N Slide maker: WHAMO

15. Peter Fonda's title beekeeper: ULEE. "Ulee's Gold"{1997}.

16. Pesky one: BRAT

17. Insurance giant: AETNA

18. Nat or Natalie: COLE

19. Verdi title princess: AIDA

23. Respectful address: SIR

24. __ Lee: dessert brand: SARA

25. "South Pacific" song: "BALI HA'I"

27. Red ink item: DEBT

30. "Yikes!": "ACK!"

32. Fraidy-cat: WIMP

33. Hedging response: "I MAY"

34. Billy Joel's "__ Always a Woman": SHE'S

36. Actress Deschanel of "New Girl": ZOOEY

39. Cambridge sch.: MIT. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

42. Spanish "a": UNA

43. Old anesthetic: ETHER

45. Lee of Marvel Comics: STAN. He has made several appearances on TBBT.

46. Cutting sound: SNIP

47. Hits the slopes: SKIs

49. Eur. realm until 1806: HRE. (Holy Roman Empire)

50. Puts two and two together: ADDs

51. Hangs crudely, as a dorm poster: TAPES UP

54. 1982 Disney sci-fi film: "TRON"

56. Sis' counterpart, and sometime rival: BRO'

62. Charged atoms: IONs

64. Stepped (on): TROD

65. Heart chambers: ATRIA

66. Fierce anger: RAGE. Partner of "rant".

67. Words following a guesstimate: OR SO

68. Sea birds: GULLS

69. Sketched: DREW

70. Sought-after private of film: RYAN. "Saving Private Ryan (1998)"

71. Overact: EMOTE


1. Pirate's booty: SWAG

2. One-named "Mask" actress: CHER. "School Registration"

3. Give stars to: RATE

4. Official forgiveness: AMNESTY

5. Animated Disney film with a Polynesian heroine: MOANA. (2016)

6. Spanish girls: MUCHACHAS. Boys are muchachos,.

7. Soothing gel ingredient: ALOE

8. TMZ figure: CELEB. (celebrity) TMZ Wiki link

9. Playground fixture for two: SEESAW

10. Steph Curry's org.: NBA. (National Basketball Association)

12. 1976 Olympics star Comaneci: NADIA

13. Arcade pioneer: ATARI

21. Sound of cymbals: [CRASH!]

22. "My Fair Lady" role: ELIZA

26. "I think," in texts: IMO. (in my opinion)

27. Thin coin: DIME

28. Let off, as steam: EMIT

31. Mets star Hernandez who dated Elaine in a two-part "Seinfeld": KEITH

35. Initiated, as a task: STARTED ON

37. Oklahoma city: ENID

38. Puppy sounds: YAPs. Not YIPS today.

40. Like fresh chips: CRISP

41. Beginning of el año: ENERO. Spanish.

44. Just __ by: barely make it: EKE

46. Holy spot: SANCTUM

48. Beau-to-be, hopefully: SUITOR

51. Classic Ford auto: T-BIRD

52. Wildly cheering: AROAR

53. Sportswear designer Ellis: PERRY. Perry Ellis, American fashion designer who founded his eponymous sportswear house in the mid-1970s.

55. No longer a minor: OF AGE

58. Thing, to Tomás: COSA. Spanish.

59. Guthrie of folk: ARLO

60. Bagpiper's attire: KILT

61. Let up: EASE

63. Stitch: SEW


Jul 17, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017 Joe Schewe

Theme: L C - but not a Lost Cause.

17. '70s Wonder Woman portrayer: LYNDA CARTER

23. Wonderland creator: LEWIS CARROLL

36. Borden cow ... and a phonetic hint to this puzzle's four longest answers: ELSIE

44. Her fashion company made the Fortune 500 in 1986: LIZ CLAIBORNE

55. "Who's on First?" funny guy: LOU COSTELLO

Argyle here. Joe Schewe hasn't been here since that punny Sunday in 2016. There are several subtle connections between some clues.


1. Gumbo pod: OKRA

5. Built with, as straw, sticks or bricks: MADE OF

11. Sculler's need: OAR

14. Indian bread: NAAN. Now a crossword staple.

15. On the train: ABOARD

16. Sport-__: versatile vehicle: UTE

19. Dreidel, essentially: TOP

20. Thus far: YET

21. Bulletin board fastener: TACK

22. Not at all serious, as threats: IDLE

27. Bridge support: TRUSS

29. Rime: HOAR

30. Source, as of knowledge: FOUNT

31. Plane arrivals: LANDINGS

35. Plane measure: AREA. Different plane.

38. Joint malady: GOUT

39. Said again: RESTATED

41. Longtime P&G soap "for women": CAMAY

42. "Who __ blame?": IS TO. "Not moi!"

43. Purvey provisions for a party: CATER

49. Gabor and Perón: EVAs

50. Hubbubs: ADOs

51. Treat like a dog?: PET. Aah.

54. Luau serving: POI

59. Drop the ball: ERR

60. Accumulate on a surface: ADSORB. [to gather (a gas, liquid, or dissolved substance) on a surface in a condensed layer] Antonym of absorb?

61. Like a busybody: NOSY

62. Ham on __: RYE

63. Itty-bitty: TEENSY

64. Henna and others: DYEs


1. "For Your Eyes __": Bond film: ONLY

2. Multi-talented Danny: KAYE. From White Christmas (1954).

3. Go ballistic: RANT

4. "Furthermore ... ": "AND ... " (more rant)

5. Colorful parrots: MACAWS

6. Old calculators: ABACI

7. Nerds: DORKS. Originally as a slang term for “penis”, I'm surprised to see it here.

8. Break bread: EAT

9. Metal-bearing rock: ORE

10. New Deal pres.: FDR. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

11. One-up: OUTDO

12. Wake Island or Bikini: ATOLL

13. Fend off: REPEL

18. '50s nuclear experiment: A TEST

22. Provide water to artificially: IRRIGATE. The "to" should be dropped from the clue.

23. Maniacs: LUNATICS

24. Indian spiced tea: CHAI

25. Top-rated: A ONE

26. "Cool!": "RAD!"

27. Ripped up: TORE

28. Bitterly regrets: RUEs

30. Partner of wide: FAR

31. '60s hallucinogen: LSD

32. Alaskan city on the Seward Peninsula: NOME

33. __ gum: thickening agent: GUAR. Not AGAR for a change. Wiki

34. Pigs' digs: STY

36. Soulful James: ETTA

37. First of 13 popes: LEO I

40. Comm. system with hand motions: ASL. (American Sign Language)

41. Art able to: CANST. Archaic.

43. Singer with Stills, Nash and Young: CROSBY. David.

44. Sufferer healed by Jesus: LEPER

45. Old piano key material: IVORY

46. Former name of the Congo: ZAIRE

47. Breakfast strips: BACON

48. Smells: ODORS. But bacon frying is an aroma.

51. Clever tactic: PLOY

52. "If all __ fails ... ": ELSE

53. Santa's sackful: TOYS

55. Back muscle, for short: LAT. (Latissimi dorsi)

56. Keats creation: ODE

57. Waste not: USE

58. Tackle's neighbor on the line: END. And our end, too.


Jul 16, 2017

Sunday July 16, 2017 Bruce Haight

Theme: "Share and Share Alike" - I'm afraid I'm missing the extra layer in this theme. The paired answers share the same clue numbers & starting letters, but the shared letters PTFFHBDM does not anagram anything.

1A/1D. Like many a postcard scene : PICTURE PERFECT

8A/8D. Imminently dangerous situation : TICKING/TIME BOMB

15A/15D. Achilles' heel : FATAL FLAW
54A/54D. "Need assistance?" : HOW CAN I/ HELP YOU

58A/58D. One of dozens, for millions : FACEBOOK FRIEND. What a great clue.

95A/95D. Poppycock, with "a" : BUNCH OF/ BALONEY. We have more:  83. Poppycock : ROT. Also 124. Poppycock : PAP

101A/101D. Bad person to share appetizers with? : DOUBLE DIPPER

121A/121D. Mr. Spock forte : MIND MELD

If you solve via Across Lite, then all your Down theme entries have the same clue: [ - ]. They're supposed to be blank, but Across Lite software can't handle blank clues, hence the dashes.

There has to be an extra layer of unifier to tie the gimmick today. It feels a bit loose to me, as the theme entry choices are not very limited, as shown by this NYT grid.

Construction-wise, this 140-word grid is lovely, as all Bruce's grids. Big chunks of white spaces, which are very hard to fill cleanly. Bruce is grid wizard. One of those few constructors who keep pushing the envelope.

20. "The NFL Today" analyst : ESIASON. Boomer.

21. Transfers, as a T-shirt design : IRONS ON

22. Girl in Byron's "Don Juan" : LEILA. Wiki says she's a Muslim girl. Leila means "night" in Arabic/Hebrew.

23. Get back (to) : RESPOND

24. Company that merged with Konica : MINOLTA

25. Jason's shipbuilder : ARGUS. The 100-eyed monster. We also have 43. Biform beast : CENTAUR. Horse/man.

26. Big party : FETE. Not FEST or GALA or even BASH.

27. Gross fraction : DOZEN. Got via crosses.

29. Brews for socials : TEAS

30. Hook wigglers : WORMS. Quite a few people were fishing along the bank of Mississippi River when Boomer and I took our walk last week. Obviously Boomer likes Rickie Fowler. I was stunned that he found those orange socks.

31. Artist's talent : EYE. EAR too.

32. Caribbean islander : ARUBAN

34. Not just any old : THE. I don't get this clue.

36. Trig ratio : SINE

37. Hollowed out : CORED

40. Mayo is in it : ANO. Mayo the month.

41. Behold, to Brutus : ECCE

44. Knowledge of spiritual matters : GNOSIS. New word to me.

46. North Pole feature : TUNDRA

48. [Yawn] : I'M BORED. Time to take a walk. Summer in MN is gorgeous.

50. Come together : GEL

51. City on Lake Michigan : GARY. I only know Gary in Indiana & our buddy Gary in Nebraska.

53. Casually arrive, in slang : BOP IN. Not a phrase I use.

62. Classic VW : BEETLE

64. Had the nerve : DARED

65. Tiny messenger : RNA

66. Wise ones : SAGES. Asked my sages Argyle and D-Otto, neither saw extra theme layer.

68. Way to hit? : TRAIL. Oh the real "way".

69. Timed perfectly : ON CUE

70. Lightning particles : IONS

72. Japanese noodle dish : RAMEN. This word is borrowed from Chinese La Mian, literally "hand-pulled noodles".

74. Water collectors : SUMPS

76. 1986 #1 hit for Starship : SARA. Unfamiliar with the song.

77. Gush on stage : EMOTE

79. Saw : MAXIM

81. Spanish royalty : REYES. Kings in Spanish. Or this guy.

84. West Coast NFLer : NINER

85. Musical Keys : ALICIA

87. Stock maker's flavor enhancer : SOUP BONE. Typical Cantonese soup consists of pork bones, dried dates, goji berries, watercress and a few traditional Chinese healing herbs, slow-cooked for at least 3 hours. They have a bowl of soup every day and they have a soup for every season. Do you have soup at home often, Jayce?

89. Short-lived Mormon state : DESERET. Learned from doing crosswords.

91. Chihuahua neighbor : TEXAS

93. Manual reader : USER

94. Deli delicacy : LOX

97. Make busts, say : SCULPT

104. Copied : APED

105. Taoist force : YIN. So in Cantonese cuisine, green mung beans are YIN and you eat the soup/porridge in summer. Red beans are Yang, popular winter food.

107. Unsettling look : STARE

108. "Bus Stop" playwright : INGE

109. Berkeley school, familiarly : CAL

111. Sickly-looking : SALLOW

114. Rouge ou blanc : VIN.  Or COULEUR.

115. Rings : PEALS

117. Like 45 records : MONO

120. Kate of "Th1rteen R3asons Why" : WALSH

122. Bridges, in Venice : PONTI. OK, plural of Ponte, as in Ponte Vecchio.

123. Up against it : IN A SPOT

125. __ cheese sandwich, popular Augusta National menu item sold for $1.50 : PIMENTO. Our Big Easy saw this menu in person. Ticket price for Masters Sunday is probably 1,000 times of the sandwich.

127. Wrapped up : ENDED

128. Product of ocean evaporation : SEA SALT

129. Pisa party? : ITALIAN

130. English novelist Charles : READE. Never read any of his books.

131. Nerve junction : SYNAPSE

132. Ones handing out cigars, stereotypically : NEW DADS. Tiny dupe with 45. Changing of the locks : NEW DO


2. Poker phrase : I SEE YOU. Poke-r.

3. Rain storage tank : CISTERN. Another new word for me. Carolyn at our flea market used to sell big rain barrels.
4. Record, in a way : TAPE

5. GI morale booster : USO

6. Mixed martial artist Rousey : RONDA. Once unbeatable.

7. "Bewitched" character : ENDORA

 9. One of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" : IRINA. Or MASHA.

10. Fleece : CON

11. Shoestring hassle : KNOT

12. "Land ho!" prompter : ISLE

13. Wrote, as music : NOTATED

14. Grind : GNASH

16. Spray sources : AEROSOL CANS. Great fill.

17. Fertile Crescent waterway : TIGRIS

18. Grads : ALUMNI

19. Misses : LASSES

28. Pueblo people : ZUNI

33. Virtual human companion : NEOPET. Do any of you own these pets?

35. Name that might pop up during a breakfast conversation : EGGO. Cute clue.

38. Just beat : EDGE

39. Idiomatic bits : DRABS. Oh, as in dribs and drabs.

42. Old yellers : CRIERS

47. Cheering deafeningly : AROAR
49. Move up and down : BOB

52. Surface for stretching : YOGA MAT

55. Five-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey : ARCARO (Eddie). Wiki says he "has the most wins in the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes with six".

56. Impulse-conducting cell : NEURON

57. Brainstorm : IDEATE. Not a word I use.

59. Breakdown of social norms : ANOMIE

60. Fundamental rules : CANONS

61. First Turkish president __ Atatürk : KEMAL. Learning moment for me.

63. Twists in a bar : LIMES

67. Add pizazz to an ad, say : SEX IT UP. Another great fill.

71. Kind of radial tire : STEEL-BELTED. Got via crosses.

73. Christianity's __ Creed : NICENE

75. Grinch creator : SEUSS

78. "The Fog of War" director Morris : ERROL. Not many ways to clue ERROL, so you better remember this guy.

80. Personalized music media : MIX CDS

82. Contractor's details : SPECS

86. Something to say to a dentist : AAH. Our Bruce is an eye doctor.

88. Champagne choice : BRUT

90. Suit : EXEC

92. Trendy coffee order : SOY LATTE. Soy is spurned by so many. Now the latest research showed coconut oil is bad too. It's the key cooking oil of our foodie Steve.

96. Leave no room in : FILL

98. Wife of Aeneas : LAVINIA. Stumper for me.

99. Spot in a newspaper : PRINT AD

100. Muscle-to-bone connectors : TENDONS. Tiny bone dupe with the SOUP BONE.

102. Common soccer score : ONE ONE

103. Kampala is its capital : UGANDA. Their official language is English.

106. Unbiased : NO SPIN

110. Out of whack : AMISS

112. Base runners? : AWOLs. Gimme for regulars.

113. Snow __ : WHITE

116. Fries, usually : SIDE

118. Tandoori bread : NAAN. Want some naan pizza?

119. Peak in Thessaly : OSSA

126. Big mouth : MAW