Henry Hook is a man after my own heart. His Sunday puzzle, Political Leaders, was full of anagrams...one of my favorite things.
Trouble is...I didn't get it.
Even after I finished the puzzle, with some help from Dogpile, I couldn't figure out the significance of the theme...revealed at 19A: With 105-Across, what the answer to each starred clue starts with (scrambled / president).
The starred clues...all good, as were the answers:
21A: Again (one more time)
23A: Baseball's Willie Mays, with "the" (Say Hey Kid).
24A: Fiancé (husband-to-be).
58A: Symbol of rejoicing for someone's long-awaited return (fatted calf). Maybe not so much in this day and age.
61A: Brownish-orange (terra cotta).
68A: Kind of ratio (price earnings).
100A: Decelerating (slowing down).
102A: Composer's due (royalties).
104A: Whatever happens (rain or shine).
After I finished solving the puzzle, I spent a good twenty minutes trying to figure out how the start of each starred answer made a scrambled president. I took that quite literally, though, and just had the first letter of each answer. O, S, H, D, F, T, S, R, R...meant zero.
I know that Donald at The New York Times Crossword in Gothic generally solves and posts early, so I checked him out. I was right in a sense, but much more wrong than right. Check out his blog for his explanation of the anagrams...the only one I caught as I was writing this was Taylor from the first six letters of royalties.
I didn't have too many gimmes in this. The noteworthy ones were 1A: Words "beautifully marked in currants" in "Alice in Wonderland" (Eat Me), 13A: Destination in Genesis 8 (Ararat), 34A: Bigwig (nabob)...thanks to its previous appearances, 106A: Cantankerous (ornery), 8D: All the parts of a column except the bottom (addends), 16D: Laugh-a-minute (riot), 41D: Passing remark? ('scuse me)...makes me think about "while I kiss this guy," and 83D: Creator of "Hägar the Horrible" (Browne).
Best clues in the puzzle include 45A: Crunch's title (Cap'n), 46A: Rod holders (retinae), 75A: Supermarket lines? (UPC code), 99A: Like wiping one's dirty mouth on one's sleeve (gauche), 1D: Mississippi quartet (esses), 13D: Ball handler? (Arnaz), 31D: Bar personnel (bouncers), 86D: Noble partner (Barnes) and 90D: Dots on a map (towns).
Some of my favorite answers...because of their Scrabbly letters or just how they looked in the grid:
28A: Home of Faa'a International Airport (Tahiti).
30A: Jury pool (venire)...short for venire facias.
31A: Watch-crystal holder (bezel).
67A: West Coast wine city (Ukiah)...have never heard of it, but I know where it is because of 91D: Home of 67-Across: Abbr. (Calif).
88A: Indy champ Bobby (Rahal).
91A: __ of vantage (good position for viewing) (coign). Totally unknown to me...and I was sure it was wrong.
96A: Split (cloven)...and the same clue for 98A (forked).
4D: "Real Time" moderator (Maher).
33D: Rears (keisters)...used often by my father when we were kids.
39D: Tourist mecca near Venezuela (Aruba).
46D: Schumacher of auto racing (Ralf).
80D: Muse of music (Euterpe). Yesterday it was Clio.
There are so many more good ones, but I want to go spend some time with Don and Elaine.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.