It was nice to finish a puzzle after yesterday's disaster. The title...Forward Thinking...wasn't much help to me. I ended up with a few theme answers that made absolutely no sense...
...like 1A: Offer for an R.J. Reynolds brand? (Kool-Bid). I had all of the downs, and I knew they were right...so that answer had to be right. But WTF? After getting another couple theme answers, it finally dawned on me...we were to replace one letter in an in-the-language phrase with the next letter in the alphabet. So, Kool-Aid became Kool-Bid...and so on.
The other theme answers:
29A: Papa pad? (Daddyshack)...Caddyshack before the forward thinking.
38A: Canola and sunflower oil? (good fats). It took me forever to see that the original phrase was good eats.
41A: Best fraternity pledge tormentor? (star hazer)...stargazer. At this point, I began to guess part of the answer...in this case, hazer.
52A: Not the most exciting school athletes? (JV drips). Another one I didn't get immediately...IV drips. In retrospect, this was one of the funniest answers.
56A: Social gathering with the Rockettes? (leg party). Party was easy enough to guess, and it wasn't long before leg took the place of keg.
68A: Got sober? (nixed drinks). I filled in drinks immediately, and nixed (rather than mixed) was right behind.
83A: C.I.A. noggins? (spy beans). Soy beans...jeez, I just saw that.
85A: Hit boxer John with a haymaker? (pop Ruiz). Okay, I get pop quiz...but I don't get the rest of it.
93A: Fog in Zurich? (Swiss mist). Swiss Miss...got it.
96A: How-to films for a dairy farm? (milk DVDs). Milk Duds...too funny.
104A: Side view of salmon? (lox profile)...for low profile.
126A: Transcribe some Dickens? (copy Boz). Copy boy? I guess so.
I just checked out The New York Times Crossword in Gothic to see what Donald had to say about the theme. Looks like I missed something big...the swapped letters are in alphabetical order. We started with changing A to B...and ended up changing Y to Z.
Patrick and Tony, you two are just too clever for me.
I sure enjoyed having so many gimmes in the nontheme answers. 12A: 1970 Simon & Garfunkel hit (Cecilia), 19A: Away from a teaching post (on leave), 28A: Top of a platter (Side A)...didn't catch me on it this time, 37A: Sporty Mazda (Miata)...my friend Bev has one, 45A: Jack who said "Just the facts, ma'am" (Webb), 59A: "Like a Rock" singer Bob (Seger), 61A: Cosmetician Lauder and others (Estees), 76A: The lion in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Aslan), 89A: "Damien" subtitle (Omen II), 116A: Facial growths (goatees), 10D: Nabber's cry (gotcha), 11D: Rather, informally (sorta), 78D: Canned meat brand (SPAM), 98D: Bread for tacos? (dinero) and 99D: Plywood layer (veneer).
Favorite clues include 23A: Cube holder (ice tray), 24A: IUD part (intra), 32A: Composes (calms), 63A: Waste maker (haste), 91A: Head set (eyes), 2D: Enough, for some (once), 16D: The King's "princess" (Lisa Marie), 45D: Locks on a dome (wig), 58D: Plane part (Y axis), 86D: Zoo feature, in England (zed) and 97D: Fife player (Knotts).
There were some things I didn't know...got them from crosses...25A: Realm of Otto von Bismarck (Prussia), 122A: Ice Cube né __ Jackson (O'Shea), 123A: It started around 1100 B.C. (Iron Age), 43D: Lukas of "Witness" (Haas), 80D: Christina in the 2005 revival of "Sweet Charity" (Applegate)...actually guessed that with only a couple letters in place, so I must have heard of her, 106D: Mandela's native tongue (Xhosa) and 107D: Hijacked cruise ship Achille _ (Lauro).
Elaine is hanging in there. Thanks again for all of the good wishes. We disconnected our home phone because of unwanted calls, and I never answer unknown calls on my cell phone. I hope that will do the trick. It looks as though she won't be getting any of her personal belongings back...fortunately, she didn't leave anything really valuable behind. But she's looking for work here, and she needed some suitable clothes. Our shopping day was fun...and a huge success.
[Update: Keep your fingers crossed. As of last night, Howard Barkin, a guest blogger and commenter here at Madness, is in second place at ACPT. Howard is an all-around nice guy...and an ace solver to boot. Way to go, Howard!]
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.