We haven't had a Larry Shearer puzzle since November. My favorite was this one, where an across and its down shared more than just a first letter...they shared one clue. I recall having a good time solving it.
Today's theme: familiar phrases have the first letter changed...from F to H. The new phrases are then clued.
18A: Exec with no ideas? (hollow suit).
28A: Headhunter posses? (hiring squad). This is the one that tipped me off to the theme.
48A: First rule of lion taming? (heed the kitty).
61A: "Rapunzel" and others? (hairy tales).
All of this is wrapped up with the final across clue...70A: Angle (and a three-word hint to this puzzle's theme). FISH...for anyone who saw it and still doesn't get it...F is H.
I saw three-word hint and entered F TO H. Thought I was pretty clever until nothing worked in the downs. Then saw angle...and the error of my ways.
Favorite clues include 22A: Like Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 (in F), 24A: Next in line (heir), 39A: Flies off the handle (loses it), 42A: Flapper wrapper (boa), 69A: In-line item (skate), 8D: One's hands and knees (all fours), 27D: .45 or .22 (caliber) and 49D: Professor 'iggins ('enry).
I've gotten to really like identical clues for multiple answers. Today we have 66A: Cloud-nine state (bliss), and the same clue at 10D (ecstasy). I tried to write in euphoria before I realized there wasn't enough room. A similar thing happened with 54A: Mrs. Huxtable of 1980s-'90s TV (Clair)...I wanted an E at the end of her name. When that wouldn't fit, I tried to spell it Clare.
Some of my favorite answers:
15A: Detective Vance (Philo). I'm not familiar with him, but I like the name.
26A: Vast amounts (oceans).
43A: Flexible, electrically (AC/DC). According to Wikipedia, the Australian band of the same name chose it because of a sticker on the back of a sewing machine. Seriously. And while I'm on the subject of music, be sure to check out reader (and occasional guest blogger) Wendy's blog. See the link in the sidebar...or just click here. Wendy is a fellow baby boomer who was raised on rock and roll. Her musical insight makes for very enjoyable reading.
51A: Starbucks size (Grande). Small, medium and large become Tall (go figure), Grande and Venti®.
57A: Five Pillars faith (Islam).
11D: Quark-binding particle (gluon). Sounds like the name of a "Star Trek" character.
29D: Camaro __-Z (IROC). I had a chocolate brown Camaro...a 1975. It wasn't an IROC-Z, but it was a beauty.
31D: Adventurous expedition (quest).
41D: Sulu player on "Star Trek" (Takei). How in the world did Sulu get to be 70 years old?
47D: Dismissal, slangily (kiss-off).
I need to wrap this up for tonight. Serious eye strain caused, I'm sure, by my vision changing overnight. Fortunately, I can get in to see the optometrist tomorrow...with a little luck, I'll have new glasses in a couple of days.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.