The Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo this week is titled "Scrambling Sports Teams" and you might guess, as I did, that we are going to be creating wacky answers in the grid by rearranging the letters of team names. Well, you would be correct:
26a - CINCINNATI BANGLES (Football team whose members wear stiff bracelets?)
36a - HOUSTON ROASTS (Baseball team whose members love barbecues?)
53a - TORONTO PARROTS (Basketball team whose members have pet macaws?)
78a - ATLANTA FLACONS (Football team whose members collect perfume bottles?)
93a - INDIANA RECAPS (Basketball team whose members are always summarizing things?)
106a-PITTSBURGH PARTIES (Baseball team whose members attend lots of bashes?)
I'm not an avid sports fan and I didn't even know that Toronto had a basketball team, much less one called the Raptors (I guess - that's the only reasonable anagram I can make of "parrots"), so I needed a lot of help from the crosswords to get many of the theme answers. In the end I got through it OK but the clues seem to me to be a little off ("...love barbecues > ROASTS?) and the names don't quite work; I get that a flacon could be a perfume bottle but are collectors called by the same name? In the final analysis I would call this a cute theme idea that doesn't quite work - Frank's puns usually elicit at least a groan but my reaction upon solving a long answer today was more like, "Huh, that's strange" so it wasn't all that satisfying - certainly nothing to HOWL AT (20a - React to with loud laughter).
Wait - I just spotted the Brooklyn NETS (28d - Keeps after taxes) in the grid; they could have been a theme answer clued as "Basketball team whose members are all total hotties?" (TENS, get it?) Cover girl Cheryl TIEGS (7a) would certainly qualify for the team.
Miscellaneous thoughts on the rest of the puzzle:
-I did not know a "fruit-pitting device" is called a STONER (6d); the word has a completely different connotation to me.
-TO THE MAX crossing X GAMES is a neat touch.
-Is TANG (12d - Orange drink) still around? I remember the TV ads for it when I was a kid, something about the astronauts drinking it in space, maybe?
-"A triad" is THREE and it's at 33 across in the grid - accidental or clever, I wonder?
-WHODUNIT (86a - Suspenseful sleuth story) is a non-word but is so common in the language that I knew it right away.
-I am ashamed to say that I wrote in NSYNC (54a - Lance Bass; boy band) without any crosses. Likewise for Donny or Marie OSMOND (56d) but at least I know who they are from other than doing puzzles.
-On the other hand, Tony-winner BEBE Neuwirth went in totally on crosswords.
-M*A*S*H actor Jamie FARR (35a) played Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger and his buddy RADAR shows up a little later in the grid (92a - Storm-finding system).
-Makes "it" is a wonderful clue for TAGS (109d).
-ORWELL may have created Big Brother (48d) but it took google to figure out how to make commercial use of it.
-Alright, I'll DESIST (121a - Cease and __) and GO ABOUT (10d - Be busy with) my day.
TARA'S Theme (7d) or Lara's Theme? You be the judge: