Some time during the night, a nasty little bug crept up and hit me...or maybe it hadn't been allergies these past few days. Whatever the cause, I feel like crud (also appearing at 20A: "Darn it!").
It's true that I love a pun more than most, but I wasn't enamored with this theme. In order to get the theme answers...takes on once-popular (poplar) songs, as they relate to trees...you had to know the song before you could figure out the pun.
24A: 1977 Dolly Parton song for tree fanciers? (Here You Gum Again). "Here You Come Again" was a catchy tune and certainly fit a relationship I was in at the time. The only problem I had with it was the use of "filling up my senses" in the lyrics. That line belongs to "Annie's Song" by John Denver...and it always will.
33A: 1965 Yardbirds song for tree fanciers? (Fir Your Love). It took me forever to remember "For Your Love" but only a second to guess how that one would be punned.
50A: 1957 Jerry Lee Lewis song for tree fanciers? (Great Balsa Fire). In this case, I knew the song, but couldn't think of a tree that would fit. Funny...I think of balsa as wood (remember the old airplanes?) but for some reason don't associate it with a tree.
61A: 1964 Bobby Goldsboro song for tree fanciers? (Cedar Funny Little Clown). I could only remember "Honey," so I had to get a good bit of crosses before this one revealed itself. It would help tremendously if I could remember how to spell 47D: Musical Rimes (LeAnn). It looks so easy.
79A: 1982 Joan Jett and the Blackhearts song for tree fanciers? (Olive Rock 'n Roll). I don't know where I was in 1982, but I don't remember "I Love Rock 'n Roll"...I'll head to YouTube after I finish this post to jog my memory.
90A: 1959 Chuck Berry song for tree fanciers? (Elmost Grown). Don't recall "Almost Grown" either.
107A: 1978 Linda Ronstadt song for tree fanciers? (Pawpaw Pitiful Me). This one holds special memories. When Leslie would start with one of her (then quite frequent) pity parties, one or another member of the family would break into the first line of the song "Well, I laid my head on the railroad tracks waitin' on the Double E." That's about as much as it took to get Leslie laughing, and she'd join in on the song. As time went on, she would often start it herself...and to use it on others of us who deserved it. I'll be sure to tell her it was in today's puzzle, and that she was featured in the blog.
I put much more effort into the theme answers than I had planned...coughing all the while...and now I'm exhausted. But much of the non-theme fill was so good, and I can't leave out my favorites.
1A: Craving, slangily (Jones).
21A: Mountain chain (cordillera). I was trying to think of a particular chain that began with C.
26A: Bridal collection (trousseau). One of only a few gimmes of any real substance.
29A: Nominal promotion of a military officer (brevet). I didn't know that...got it from crosses, then Don confirmed it.
32A: Inner circles (cadres)...I've always loved the look and sound of that word.
41A: Nirvana seeker (Yogi).
42A: World capital, founded in 1538, formerly known as Chuquisaca (Sucre).
44A: Suffix with myth (ical)...just because it looked so funny every time I saw it later in the grid.
89A: Flight formation (vee). I read the clue as flight information, so I entered ET*. The cross at 72D: Chick on the piano (Corea)...great clue...fixed that one.
110A: Palate part (uvula).
2D: "A Jug of Wine..." poet (Omar). This was the site of another stupid mistake. I had the O and the R and knew the answer, but what I wrote ended up as OMRR. Try to find the answer to 23A: Nick name? (Santa) with R as the second letter...another very clever clue.
6D: Key fort? (McHenry).
8D: Ashram leader (Guru). Ashram appears again...yesterday it was an answer.
14D: Tito Puente played them (timbales). When I'm hungry, that looks like it should be something to eat.
51D: Place for an easel (atelier).
63D: Ledger entry (debit). Don loved this answer...I don't think that debits and credits make it to the New York Times all that often.
65D: __-Poo of "The Mikado" (Nanki).
66D: 1970s-'80s baseball All-Star Manny (Trillo).
78D: Laura of "Blue Velvet" (Dern). That was one of the movies I was forced to sit through during a World's Greatest Films class. I'm sure it was only included because that particular professor liked something about it...it's certainly not a classic, and I didn't see anything great about it.
96D: Words before bed or rest (put to). I had everything except the first letter and was sure I had something wrong. I did...I was trying to read it as one word.
I'm failing fast, so I need to wrap this up. A couple of favorite clues:
30A: Sugar substitute? (hon).
68A: It's spotted in the wild (ocelot).
72A: Tippy transport (canoe).
74A: Bank deposit? (silt).
101A: Do police work (keep order).
111A: Sing "Bye Bye Birdie," e.g. (alliterate).
116A: Red army? (ants).
43D: Nut holder (U-bolt).
52D: One way to be taken (aback).
73D: Rough condition to face? (acne).
105D: Salmon tail? (ella).
Don is off doing a 50K bike ride to raise money for our local equivalent of the Ronald McDonald house. For many reasons, I'm glad I didn't sign up for it...but I don't think I'll get much done while he's gone.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.