Mar 21, 2021

Sunday March 21, 2021 Gary Larson

Theme:  "Oh, That Changes Things!" - O sound is added to the end of each common phrase, changing spelling as needed.

25A. Sketching an infamous emperor?: DRAWING NERO. Drawing near.

27A. Outdoor barbecue area for wings?: CHICKEN PATIO. Chicken patty.

48A. iPad, iPod and iPhone?: APPLE TRIO. Apple tree.

71A. Theme park beast, perhaps?: ARTIFICIAL HIPPO. Artificial hip.

97A. Intoxicated to the point at which getting a tattoo sounds like a good idea?: INK BLOTTO. Ink blot.

121A. 100 centavos?: CHANGE OF PESO. Change of pace.

123A. Twin peaks?: MOUNTAIN DUO. Mountain Dew.

3D. On one's own?: LIVING SOLO. Living soul.

80D. Spur-of-the-moment Tinder profile?: IMPULSE BIO. Impulse buy.

We've had a few O addition themes, but I don't remember one with spelling changes in the end. You need creativity and imagination for this type of theme.

Quite theme-heavy, with 9 entries. Two of Down entries intersect two Across ones. I like when this happens. It eases the gridding, thought at times it creates fill constraints. 


1. Gretchen of "Boardwalk Empire": MOL. A few other proper names in this puzzle: 18A. Dr. __ Skoda, J.K. Simmons' "Law & Order" role: EMIL. 55A. Funny Fey: TINA. 75A. Actress Woodard: ALFRE. 106A. Former New Mexico senator with an Uncle Mo: TOM UDALL.129A. Indy racing family: UNSERS. 28D. Clinton running mate: KAINE. 29D. Revered Mother: TERESA.37D. Charlotte of "The Facts of Life": RAE. 39D. Six-time N.L. home run champ: OTT. Here's our Gretchen Mol.

4. Takes steps: ACTS.

8. Takes time drinking: NURSES. And 22. Whiskey cocktail: SOUR. And 103. Martini go-with?: ROSSI. Vermouth.

 14. Tiff: SPAT.

20. Dory, e.g.: BOAT.

21. Pricing word: A PIECE. Moe just explained this two days ago.

23. "Must-see" review: RAVE.

24. Cheese with an edible rind: BRIE.

30. Loses it: GOES MAD.

31. Yemen's capital: SANAA. Vowel-rich.

32. Conger catchers: EELERS. Vowel-rich.

33. Georgia et al., once: SSRS. We also have 99. Blog feed letters: RSS. 135. WWII spy org.: OSS. And 4. IRS ID's: SSNS.

34. More coarse, as sandpaper: GRITTIER.

36. Named time span: ERA.

38. Big brand in card collections: TOPPS. I think this is the most expensive Topps card.

43. Stubborn equine: ASS.

45. Albany is its cap.: NYS.

46. Brave opponent: RED. Atalanta Braves. Cincinnati Reds.

51. More relaxed: LOOSER.

53. "Word on the street is ... ": SOME SAY.

56. Shirt named for a game: POLO.

57. Land: ACREAGE. Santa still owned his childhood land when he passed away.

61. Grassy plain: LEA.

63. Admit, with "to": COP.

64. Never again: NO LONGER.

66. Ragout, e.g.: STEW. Never made this.

69. Leaves alone: STETS.

78. Spot in the Senate: SEAT.

79. Tattoo target: BARE SKIN.  This is pretty.

82. Road sign caution: SLO.

83. Great Lakes' __ Canals: SOO.

86. More inclined: STEEPER.

88. Gym site: YMCA.

90. Scarlett's plantation: TARA.

92. Windpipe: TRACHEA.

95. Woodlouse, e.g.: ISOPOD.

101. Simple sack: COT.

102. Play for a sap: USE.

104. Cries of pain: OWS.

109. Chowder morsel: CLAM. And 112. Iced pastry: ECLAIR.

114. Dukes seen in fights: FISTS. Not the noble Dukes. The slang for "fists".

117. Paradise: ELYSIUM.

126. Genetic lab samples: DNAS. Iffy in plural.

127. Support beam: I BAR.

128. Stallion's mate: MARE.

130. Notes after fa: SO LA.

131. Tabloid fodder: DIRT.

132. Start to build a pot: ANTE.

133. Navy builder: SEABEE.

134. __ child: ONLY. China ended its one-child policy in 2015. It started in 1979. Now it's two-child policy.


1. Former Ford autos, briefly: MERCS.

2. City on the Missouri: OMAHA. The Steaks!

4. French cleric: ABBE.

5. Trumpet kin: CORNETS.

6. Where Chiang ruled from 1950 on: TAIPEI. Chiang Kai-shek. Here with his wife Soong Mei-ling.

7. Thief: STEALER.

8. Rock bottom: NADIR.

9. Revolted: UPROSE.

10. Coastal inlet: RIA.

11. Work on a seam, say: SEW.

12. Vaping products, briefly: E-CIGS.

13. Man of La Mancha: SENOR.

15. Hardy work: POEM.

16. Certain something: AURA.

17. Walked over: TROD.

19. Aptly named Renault: LE CAR.

26. Chansons de __: medieval French poems: GESTE. Learning moment for me.

33. Weakens: SAPS.

35. Coup target, perhaps: TYRANT.

40. Number on a tag: PRICE.

41. __ noir: PINOT.

42. Bars not for drinking: SOAPS. Cute clue.

43. Swiss peak: ALP.

44. In a bit: SOON.

47. One watching a shepherd, say: DOG SITTER.

49. Amigo: PAL.

50. Cleaning chemical: LYE.

52. Renewable energy choice: SOLAR.

54. Physical opening: META. Metaphysical.

58. Some Hollywood FX: CGI.

59. Court arbiters: REFS. Basketball court.

60. Toledo's lake: ERIE.

62. Snakes in hieroglyphics: ASPS.

65. Valuable rocks: ORES.

67. River to the North Sea: ELBE.

68. Hard-hitting sound: WHAP.

70. Ginza locale: TOKYO.  Good old pre-COVID days.

72. Wallet contents: CASH.

73. Wrath: IRE.

74. J.R.R. Tolkien feature: PERIOD.

75. Up: ASTIR.

76. Peruvian plain: LLANO.

77. Travelers' decision points: FORKS.

81. Sgts. and such: NCOS.

84. Plains tribe: OTO.

85. Leftover morsel: ORT.

87. California locale where "Maria Maria" fell in love, in a Santana hit: EAST LA. "Oh Maria Maria/ She fell in love in East L.A./To the sounds of the guitar, yeah, yeah/Played by Carlos Santana..."

89. Vitamin C source: ADE.

91. Six-pack contents?: ABS.

93. Speck: ATOM.

94. Legendary fire starter: COW. Mrs. O'Leary's cow.

96. Office group: STAFF.

98. Permissible: LICIT.

100. Son-of-a-gun: SO AND SO.

101. It makes everything better, purportedly: CURE-ALL.

105. Safe and sound: SECURE.

107. Filet __: MIGNON.

108. Fat, say: LIPID.

110. Hawaiian feasts: LUAUS. That's poi in front, right? I eat taro often. Never tried poi.

111. Nitrogen compound: AMINE.

113. Selected: CHOSE.

115. Rulers before the Bolsheviks: TSARS.

116. Gets ready to file: SORTS.

117. Jane Austen novel: EMMA.

118. Student __: LOAN. Thankfully Chinese government paid for my college education.

119. Mongolian tent: YURT.

120. "The Mikado" weapon, briefly: SNEE.

122. Anthem opener: O SAY.

124. Eavesdropping org.: NSA.

125. Young socialite: DEB.




desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Took a bit to figure out the theme, but then it was smooth sailing to the finish. Cute. Was proud when I immediately knew it was SAANA. Not so proud when I had to change it to SANAA. Shouldn't SO-LA have been SOL-LA? CUREALL, because BACON was too short. This one came together quickly, so life is good. Thanx, Gary and C.C.

Next on the agenda: replacing the front door hardware. Pulled the door closed yesterday and the latch came off in my hand. Little pieces flew everywhere. There's zero chance I could put it back together, so I bought a replacement. Looked identical in the picture, but the vertical handle is a couple inches shorter. That leaves me with an exposed 1/4" hole to fill. Shouldn't be too difficult. [He said, hopefully.]

KAINE: Hand up if you were thinking of the other Clinton. GORE was too short.

ECLAIR: Loved 'em in my ute. Couldn't figure out, though why an ECLAIR was pronounced with a long E, and EAU CLAIRE was pronounced with a long O.

GINZA: Visited in '69 when the moonwalk was going on. It was nice, but not super-fancy at that time. The dollar was very strong against the yen in those days. You could take a taxi anywhere in Tokyo for the equivalent of 30-cents. The trick was explaining to the cabbie where you wanted to go.

Lemonade714 said...

Good morning; spring sprung yesterday when I was not looking. Mr. Larson has really hit the productivity button and is popping up here and everywhere. I did two Fridays in January. I cannot remember a themeless; Gary?

I happily knew nothing about the WOODLOUSE or its predator the the WOODLOUSE SPIDER and hope to never meet either.

I cannot imagine a 21 x 21 puzzle with no proper names, but they never bother me as I am a trivia person.

Thank you, Gary and C.C,

desper-otto said...

If Yanni toured Peru, do you suppose it'd be billed as Yanni on the LLANO?

Lemonade714 said...

Oops, like D-O, SENATOR TIM KAINE was a forgotten man.

Mark said...

I wonder why I forget Tim Kaine's name? It was less than 5 years ago! I remember Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman. So it's not that he lost, his party, or his gender....

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

Liked the theme today. Change to 'O' lent itself to lots of examples. Cleverly done. When I finally sussed FORKS and got ALFRE as the cross, for an actress I never heard of who was in movies I never heard of, I left it as a WAG. And; voilà, I FIR. Gary left just enough out there with each entry so one could build on it and expand to the final solve.
SECURE - A very common verb in the Navy: to make fast, to release (naval personnel) from work or duty, to stop work : go off duty, to tie up : berth.
ERIE - missing for a few days. Did you know its fetch along the long axis is 250 miles?
ELYSIUM - Is the island liberty port in the movie "Mister Roberts."
ACREAGE - When my parents would speak of it (about farmland), they would say in German/L.German: "Ackerland"

Yellowrocks said...

I liked the theme. It helped a lot. I liked the spelling change. This was more difficult for me than Saturday's puzzle which I FIR. I was snookered by the Tolkien feature, PERIOD. I missed the D in that and in Tom Udall. I knew of him but I thought TOMU-ALL was all one word.
Also for the longest time I was reading WOODHOUSE instead of woodlouse which I thought would have a space in it. Not so.
I think the difficulty of a puzzle sometimes reflects the solver's focus and mood.
Alan is dying to go out, so good-bye for now.

Lucina said...


We can always count on Gary Larson to deliver an amusing puzzle and he did. Sunday puzzles are for me, slow and deliberate with lots of thinking.

I have no idea who Gretchen MOL is but MERC, OMAHA and LIVING SOLO determined it. CSO to Husker Gary at OMAHA.

Medieval European history included studying about the Chansons de Roland GESTE. They were a lively group, those people from the Middle Ages!
I will never understand the need for tattoos. In my opinion BARE SKIN should stay that way.
IMPULSE Buy is what I do way too often. My latest is Emeril Lagasse's toaster oven which I hope lives up to its hype.
I like ALFRE Woodard. She is a wonderful actress.
ERIE sneaked in quietly.
SOO, SO AND SO, SOON and there is OTTO hanging out at the end of INKBLOTTO to round out the O's.
Nicely done by Gary Larson and brilliantly commented by C.C.

Enjoy your day, everyone!

Bob Lee said...

Too many names! Although I did enjoy the twist of the 'O' endings. Very creative.

I had a bazillion TOPPS baseball cards as a kid in the 60s. Never saved any of them.

My favorite clue answer: Mountain Duo!!

The only reason I know ELYSIUM is because of the sci-fi movie.

Hungry Mother said...

FIR in spite of the plethora of offbeat names. I guess the crosses were fair, so I shouldn’t complain.

NaomiZ said...

Whew! Would not have FIR without the very political DH to help with TOM UDALL and Tim KAINE. Perps were needed for MOL and ALFRE. The theme was clever, but only a little bit helpful with the solve. All in all, a good one, and without DH's input, I would have cried "uncle," for sure. Thank you, Gary, C.C., Rich, and Cornerites!

Lucina said...

CSO to my niece's husband, Chris, who works for TOPPS and witnesses the signature of every new baseball player each season.

Mark S said... that because there are three of them in his name?

desper-otto said...

Mark S, yes, because there are multiple periods in his name.

ATLGranny said...

Another successful day! FIR after easing around, puzzling my way to get the themers and using perps to figure out names I didn't know. INK BLOTTO was the hardest themer for me and UNSERS took a bit of time since I wondered about AMINE. Lots of fun surprises along the way and thanks to Boomer, I knew about TOPPS cards. Mark and DO, that's what I thought about PERIOD, too. Tolkien's name unusually has three of them. Some inky spots as I tried different possibilities and corrected spellings, but that is normal for me. All's well....

Lucina, for the past year my IMPULSE Buying has come to a halt. Other than groceries and such necessities, I haven't bought anything. Not being in stores eliminated the usual temptations.

Hope you all are having a pleasant Sunday. Tonight for the first time, we are having a fully vaccinated couple in our home for a social evening. Something new.

ATLGranny said...

Oops, I forgot to thanks Gary and C.C. for providing a super Sunday start to my day. Many thanks!

Husker Gary said...

-Clever and pleasant. A_FRE/_LANO – Somehow I remembered LLANO. Obscure MOL took care of itself
-It’s been a while since I mentioned our YMCA (20 min from OMAHA) is the largest in the world
-Windpipe/TRACHEA stood out to me because it was so straight forward
-Wow, today I realized CORNET only had two syllables!
- Este SENÕR tuvo tres errores tontos (This mister had three silly mistakes)
-Does anyone else remember this 1958 Chanson D’Amour (Song of Love)
-Lemon, I have no recall of a Gary Larson themeless
-We are now double-inoculated and when I asked my friend in church today if he was, he nearly lost it because he is virulently opposed to getting one and told me so in great detail. A simple no would have sufficed.

CrossEyedDave said...

Alas, DNF, way out of my wheelhouse.
I read the theme before starting, but it is omitted from the actual
Online puzzle, and I forget so quickly. I stared at artificial hippo knowingly,
But chicken patio only reminded me of barbecue mishaps...

I did get caught reading Tolkien "creature" b/4 feature
And period (briefly) sent me into the third age...

Elysium also reminded me of the SF movie (quite good actually)
But it also reminds me of a wonderful landscaping plant

CrossEyedDave said...

Going over Indian Hills
can be a bumpy ride...

Here is the backstory if you are interested.
I love the 1st comment under the video,
"To the thief who stole my antidepressants, I hope you're happy..."

Pat said...

DNF. I worked on this in bits and pieces over several hours and about a third of it was over my head. Thank you, Gary L., for the challenge and thank you, C.C., for filling in my blanks.

I did get the theme for a change.

HG, yes, I thought of the song but I went to this version by Manhattan Transfer,Chanson D'Amour

We are having some beautiful Spring weather. Unfortunately, it also brings on allergies.

I hope you all enjoy this day.

Jayce said...

Well I felt this puzzle was a little bit weird. For example, UNSERS as a plural. I know one can say "Meet the Unsers" but since "family" is in the clue, I expected "the Unser family". And can STET be plural? Has anyone seen a road sign that says SLO? And as C.C. notes, DNAS is iffy as a plural. And the note after "fa" is "sol" not "so." And finally PERIOD as a J.R.R. Tolkien feature; I would have thought now it should be plural, as there are three periods. And so on. Just weird.

I loved the clues for DOG SITTER and FISTS. ELYSIUM and TRACHEA are nifty fill.

Phone, gotta go. More later maybe.

Jayce said...

Oh, and I expected CORNET to be singular, since "trombone" was. "Cornets are related to trombones." "The cornet is related to the trombone." But not "Cornets are related to the trombone."

I liked the theme a lot and got some nice chuckles.

As for names, well, we obviously are going to continue to have them in puzzles. I suppose as long as one can fill an unknown name by means of perps, well okay then I guess. For example MOL and EMIL; I would be 100% unable to fill either of them were it not for the downs.

Oh, and I realized TAIWAN had to be limited down to TAIPEI when EELERS cam along. Actually, Ching ruled all of Taiwan, though I suppose you could say he ruled from his offices in Taipei.

Just weird.

Good wishes to you all.

Jayce said...

Sorry I misspelled Mr. Chiang's name.

Misty said...

Delightful Sunday puzzle, Gary--many thanks. And your commentary is always a gift, C.C.
The O addition theme is just so clever. My first theme answer was DRAWING NERO, which made perfect sense given the clue. But CHICKEN PATIO? No, something was going on here. Anyway, very funny and a real pleasure to check each of those theme answers for the O joke.

I loved seeing Mother TERESA in the puzzle, and glad to see she remains revered.
Especially in a puzzle with a TYRANT and TSARS. But the COW as a fire starter pretty much eluded me.

Hope you all had a good Sunday, and have a good week ahead.

Spitzboov said...

ISS sighting. I watched the ISS pass overhead starting at 1953 EDT and for 7 min until it disappeared in the NE. The last couple days have been absolutely clear with no haze so tonight was a good time to observe it.

Anon said...

Fun puzzle with some annoying clues. The worst clue is Brave opponent. Also, when have you ever used the word WHAP?

Big Easy said...

Lots of "O" additions that became apparent at APPPLE TRI-O. I got CHICKEN PATIO and that let me fill MOL & EMIL- the only other proper name I'd never heard of was ALFRE. And I can never remember if it's SANAA or SAANA but the perps took care of it. Fast fill for a Sunday.

Spitzboov- my last fill was the cross of FORKS & ALFRE.
Anon@7:42- I've never use the word WHAP.

HEAR SAY before SOME SAY and WHAM before WHAP.
GESTE- perps; only know it as following Beau
I'll drive my MERCury or MERCedes to the Mel OTT center tomorrow for the pickleball league.
Had to install a new mailbox today after drilling into the concrete; glad I could borrow a hammer-drill.

C.C.- yesterday DW and I were helping a friend who is selling his house pack and throw tons of things away. Pulling stuff out of his closet and sorting good from trash and came across some autographed baseballs. He definitely didn't throw away the ones signed by STAN MUSIAL and BROOKS ROBINSON. I asked how he managed to get them and he said his father went to elementary and high school with another HOF player- ALVIN DARK.

Malodorous Manatee said...

Very late to the party. I share both the kudos and the criticisms above regarding the puzzle. It's snowing here in Colorado on this first or second day of spring.

Wilbur Charles said...

This took p&p but paid off with FIR. I had slow start and had to come back to NW. sipsat/NURSES;atcost/APIECE;Sancho/SENOR were early mishits.

We fortunately just had SANAA even though a clue, Saturday

Wow, I had that card as did everybody. What I wanted was a Ted Williams card

I needed perps and each quarter had purchase eg TARA,ORT*,NCOS.

1D, Mercury of course wasn't(formerly) a Ford until it was and isn't anything now. I could LIU**

I misread and thought Gary was looking for a city IN Missouri. I did remember the Renault nickname. I recall Dauphine as the model(prior)

Gary got cute with John Ronald Reuel initials. So much for being a big Middle Earth fan. I see no one was interested in my Strider/Intrepid theory FLN. NtSo N.Ratschilde/Hari Selden. Alas.

Any vitamin C you get in an ADE you could get from a pill. For flavonoids you need an orange.

As a college Hitchhiker I told the NY couple "Go ahead a mile and when you come to the FORK'n the Road..

They glared and drove off. Didn't know Bostonese.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of solving and browsing is what people know and don't. fe RED for the elementary baseball clue and ALFRE the five perp pop clue(which Lucina immediately knew)

Began the solve at Breakfast Station and managed to finish but I fell asleep and was woken to go on a wild goose chase to the Villages.

I see my fellow cornerites have pretty much opted and have had the two vaccines. Jansen is hard to get. But Betsy wants me to wait for it.


* Classic xword clue along with eft,ena and, of course, OTT

** LIU, Wilbur's pal, Mr S is the one who got MERCury entirely wrong. He thought mercs were separate and only later acquired by Ford. I should have known Mr S isn't to be trusted. Here's what I found

Lucina said...

Wilbur Charles:
Yes, I know exactly who ALFRE Woodard is, a beautiful woman and as mentioned, a great actress.

Whew! My family just left after having a dinner of ribs and sides. My oldest granddaughter and her year-old son also came. I love seeing them all. Mark, of course and my daughter's good friend since high school who is like a part of the family came, too. He is like an adopted son to me. It's a joy to have the table filled with love and laughter.

TXMs said...

CED - Loved the backstory clip of Indian Hills and especially the husband/wife interviews. Thanks!