Theme: What - the H? or The H you say! When you see a strikingly unusual grid, that's a strong hint that something out of the ordinary is up, and we got it today in spades. I guess the big block H in the center of the grid, surrounded by horizontal and vertical brackets, serves as a unifier, of a sort. Instead of a conceptual theme, today every horizontal and vertical entry contains the letter H. I can't even imagine what was involved in putting this together. For most of the fill, it's exactly exactly one time, but there are a few two H words.
Hi Gang, JazzBumpa at the helm. No Hemming and Hawing, let's have at it.
1. Scale on which diamond is assigned a "10" : MOHS. Hardness of minerals. Talc is softest.
5. Owl's question? : WHO. How should I know?
8. "Music __ charms ..." : HATH. To soothe a savage breast. The actual quote has the word "HAS" not "HATH." This is the first line of the play The Mourning Bride by William Congreve, spoken by Almeria in Act I, Scene 1.
12. The sego lily is its state flower : UTAH. Hibiscus is Hawaii's
13. Map out : CHART. Here are some of my charts [graphs, actually], if you're interested. Six Decades of U. S. Population Growth.
15. Nymph rejected by Narcissus : ECHO. He loved his image. She loved her voice. Unhappy ending
16. Actress Elisabeth : SHUE. Heroine?
17. Deck opening : HATCH. For loading cargo.
18. Work on jerky : CHEW. Holy mouthful, Batman.
19. WWII aircraft carrier plane : HELLCAT. High performing flyer.
21. Iowa native : HAWKEYE.
23. Tax-sheltered nest egg : ROTH IRA.
25. Hippy dance : HULA. Hips in motion, not from the Haight-Ashbury hangout
28. 1963 Newman film : HUD. Anti-hero.
29. Ousted Iranian : SHAH. Horrible despot.
33. Arctic "snowshoe" critters : HARES.
34. Quizzical sounds : EHS.
35. Bears owner/coach who won eight NFL titles in four different decades : HALAS. Highly successful.
37. Singer Piaf : EDITH. Huge in France.
38. Soup base : BROTH.
39. Luxury craft : YACHT.
40. Quiet "Quiet!" : SHH. Hush.
43. "Ulysses" actor Milo : O'SHEA.
44. Quaint pronoun : THEE.
45. "Isn't __ bit like you and me?": Beatles lyric : HE A. Where is he?
46. Solvers' cries : AHAS. Having that AHA moment.
47. Tremulous glow : SHIMMER.
50. Except : SHORT OF.
54. Beeline : MAD DASH. Hurrying.
59. "Hava Nagila" dance : HORA. Hold hands; dance in a circle.
60. Different : OTHER. Who are you?
62. Worker welfare org. : Occupational Safety and Health Adminitration.
63. Progress slowly : INCH.
64. Organ with chambers : HEART. Has auricles and ventricles.
65. Son of Odin : THOR. Hammer guy.
66. Sinister chuckles : HEHS.
67. "Revenge is __ best served cold" : A DISH. Has uncertain origin.
68. Seven: Pref. : HEPT-. Is a member of a cool HEPTet a HEPT cat?
1. Soft stuff : MUSH.
2. Will-wisp link : O' THE. Hinkypunk - per Wikipedia, atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travelers from the safe paths.
3. Truck : HAUL.
4. Poet Silverstein : SHEL. He wrote Where the Sidewalk Ends.
5. Words said with a double take : WHAT THE. Often followed by H . . .
6. Fez, e.g. : HAT. Head cover.
7. Corsage flowers : ORCHIDS.
8. "Consarn it!" : HECK. Not the H . . . word I had in mind.
9. Motrin target : ACHE. Hurts!
10. Those folks : THEY.
11. Suffragette Julia Ward __ : HOWE. (1819-1910) Also abolitionist and poet, she wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
13. Former Labor secretary Elaine : CHAO. Only cabinet member to serve under President George W. Bush for his entire administration; Wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
14. Where she blows : THAR. Whale.
20. Vehicle safety measure : CRASH TEST.
22. Jug band percussion instrument : WASH BOARD. Here's how it's done.
24. "Say what?" : HUH.
25. Tackled : HAD AT. Attempted
26. "Vega$" actor : URICH. Robert.
27. Mythical river of forgetfulness : LETHE. Hades river, flowing around the cave of Hypnos and through the underworld.
30. Grating : HARSH.
31. "Hello, wahine!" : ALOHA. Hi. Howaya?
32. Can't stand : HATES.
33. "You, there!" : HEY.
36. Doo-wop syllable : SHA.
40. Went from first to second, say : SHIFTED. Ha - gears. I wanted a stolen base.
41. Jeans bottom : HEM. Stitchery.
42. Pounds : HAMMERS. Like THOR.
48. Ado : HOOHA. Or Brouhaha.
49. Mars neighbor : EARTH. Heavenly orbs.
50. __ Tzu : SHIH. Hairy hound
51. Fine-tune : HONE.
52. B'way seating area : ORCHestra.
53. Sounds from the stands : RAHS. Hooray!
55. Shakespearean verb : DOTH. How DOTH the little crocodile?
56. 1975 Wimbledon winner : ASHE. Tennis star Arthur.
57. Hit the mall : SHOP.
58. Antlered deer : HART.
61. Ginza agreement : HAI. はい "Yes" in Japanese.
How did you like this puzzle by Messrs. Horne and Chen ? Has a couple of force-fit entries, but over-all pretty smooth construction, and quite an original concept. Did anybody else think of Hard and soft G's?