The Sunday New York Times was a jewel...just the right mix of clever, difficult, fun, and tricky.
The theme was PUT IT IN WRITING. The addition of IT somewhere within the title of a fairly well-known book (or play) changed it to a new (and funny) title, which was then appropriately clued.
23A: Quentin Tarantino paperback about a minister's stories? (PULPIT FICTION). I'm fairly certain that was in a recent puzzle...possibly the Sun.
29A: Randy Shilts exposé of an outlaw musician? (AND THE BANDIT PLAYED ON).
57A: Susan Howatch novel about protesting clergy? (SITINS OF THE FATHER). I inserted IT in the wrong place here...SINITS...which meant the downs wouldn't cooperate. Finally figured it out.
82A: Marlo Thomas storybook for liberated vampires? (FREE TO BITE YOU AND ME). This one makes me laugh every time I read it.
107A: Grimm Brothers story about a sorry leader, with "The"? (PITIED PIPER OF HAMELIN). This was the one that finally gave me the theme. Things started making much more sense at that point.
121A: Shakespearean play about a monarch who writes bad checks? (KITING HENRY IV).
I set this aside for about an hour. When I came back, all kinds of answers popped into my head...things I'd been struggling with earlier. Things like:
1A: Heart of a bus. district (Main St.) Had the A and the N for the longest time, but nothing was coming to mind.
13A: Mexican state east of Veracruz (Tabasco). Had Jalisco, but then nothing made sense for 13D: Wreck (total). Actually, I had total, then erased it to enter Jalisco. When will I learn to go with my gut?
28A: Became fully evident (sank in). I had 17D: Doesn't just bad-mouth (slanders), so I knew it didn't end in -ed, but it took walking away to see it.
11D: Hunk (Adonis). I can't remember how many letters I had before I finally caught on.
41D: Deli order (tuna on rye). I knew it was on rye, but I couldn't figure out a sandwich ingredient that ended in A.
58D: Win in a children's game (OOO). Jeez! I had OOA, thinking that 67A: Mexican Indians was Otamis, rather than the correct Otomis.
There were quite a few things that were completely unknown to me:
20A: Squeezed at the ends, as leaves (oblate).
51A: Warning signal, once (alarum).
119A: Copycat (epigone).
109D: "Funny Face" director Stanley (Donen).
Favorite multi-word answers include: 55A: "Just because" (no reason), 127A: This second (at once), 131A: One way to live transsexually (as a man), 29D: Little League issue (age limit), 30D: "Don't sweat it" (no matter), and 64D: City served by Indira Gandhi International Airport (New Delhi)...got that off the LH.
Clues/answers that I just plain liked:
89A: Piddling (picayune). I think we've had the word before, because I remember commenting on it...or maybe that was just a comment I posted elsewhere.
99A: Saucy dance (salsa). That's a perfect clue for those of us who confuse samba, mambo, and other Latin dances.
128A: Second __ (banana).
130A: Crowds, it is said (threes). That's the best of the bunch.
6D: Peevish (tetchy). I don't remember the last time I've seen the word anywhere, but it's a great one.
10D: Rat race (grind).
91D: One whose work may suit you (clothier).
105D: Study in multiplication and division? (amoeba).
I didn't know 27A: State where Geo. W. Bush was born (Conn). I figured he was born in Texas. I was born in Connecticut, and I don't like sharing that with him.
I'm always proud to get the simplest sports-related clue. 18D: Oriole Ripken (Cal) was a gimme. I think that may be the only sports trivia in this puzzle.
Interesting that we have mop (1D: Big job for a barber), as well as mope (62A: Be down)...Abu (2D: __ Ghraib, Iraqi prison) and Sabu (70D: "Elephant Boy" boy)...86D: Leandro's love (Ero) and 100A: Love child? (Eros).
I spent a couple of hours lying poolside with a friend today, and that just wipes me out. I stupidly forgot my own advice about sunscreen...don't know what I was thinking. Anyway, I'm tired out and ready to call it a night.
Here's the grid. I started to check it and lost the whole thing when I was almost finished...didn't bother to do it over again. Let me know if you see any errors.
And if I didn't mention your favorite clues or answers, please share. I really enjoy reading what others thought of the puzzle. I already know what I thought ; )
Enjoy your Sunday...and I'll see you tomorrow.