Theme: "'Tis the Season" - Giving can precede 5 of the theme entries.
23A. Event that kicks off shopping for 119-Across : BLACK FRIDAY
39A. *Space mission team : GROUND CONTROL. Giving ground.
51A. *2003 romantic comedy with multiple story lines : LOVE ACTUALLY. Bill G's favorite movie. Giving love.
67A. *Amy Dickinson, for one : ADVICE COLUMNIST. Giving advice. Her column "Ask Amy" appears in our Star Tribune, and I read it often. Also like her in "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me".
86A. *Botticelli on display in the Uffizi : BIRTH OF VENUS. With "The". Giving birth.
96A. *Friends for life : BLOOD BROTHERS. Giving blood.
119. Festive time : THE HOLIDAYS
101D. Important theme for 119-Across, and a word that can be used with the starts of the answers to the starred clues : GIVING. Great placement, crossing the last theme entry.
Sweet puzzle to kick off our Thanksgiving celebrations.
This puzzle is very clean, Patti's hallmark, no obscure abbrs. or weird words. She's another constructor who won't dazzle you hot debut entries. Just solid entries one after another.
1. Unnerving sound on a hiking trail : RATTLE. And 66. Nile cobras : ASPS. My grandma told me to turn my shirt inside out after seeing a snake to avoid bad luck.
7. GI on the run : AWOL
11. Saturate : SOAK. I put in SATE first. Nuts.
15. Passé players, briefly : VCRs. I was thinking has-been ballplayers.
19. On __ basis : A TRIAL. A rare 6-letter partial. Rich allows it occasionally.
20. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" lyricist : CARA
21. Year in Italy : ANNO. And 49. Sicily, to Sicilians : ISOLA. And 11D. City near the Amalfi Coast : SALERNO
22. "Not so fast!" : WHOA!
25. Bygone Fords : LTDs
26. Island east of Java : BALI. There are girls who go to Bali to find love. "Eat, Pray, Love" style.
27. Low voice : BASSO
28. Polish writing : EDIT
29. Verbal shrug : MEH
30. "Desire Under the Elms" playwright : O'NEILL (Eugene)
32. Qualifying suffix : ISH
33. They're often grad students : TAs
35. "Stop" : NO MORE. And 119D. 35-Across, briefly : TMI
37. Fight (for) : VIE
38. Iron-rich cabbage : KALE. How do you normally prepare kale?
44. Tight-knit group : CLAN
47. End-of-letter letters : ENC
50. Colleague of Ruth and Sonia : ELENA
55. Folks : PARENTS
57. Less cordial : ICIER
58. Cycle beginning : TRI. So is UNI.
59. Goblet parts : STEMS
61. Art in a parlor : TAT (Tattoo)
62. Giraffe kin : OKAPI
63. Unlikely lawyer in a 1992 film title : VINNY. I bet many of you nailed it. "My Cousin Vinny".
65. "Ta ta!" : CIAO
71. Calendar list, briefly : SKED (Schedule)
74. Blowups: Abbr. : ENLS
75. Pink hue : MELON
76. Potala Palace city : LHASA. Gimme for me. Dalai Lama used to live in the Potala Palace, which sounds very romantic in Chinese.
80. Christiane Amanpour's network : CNN
81. Super Bowl XLIV MVP : BREES. I have BR??? in place, so BRADY went in first.
82. Well-chosen : APT
83. Knock for __ : A LOOP
84. Danger sign : RED FLAG
90. Michelob beer : ULTRA
91. Strength : ASSET
94. Fashion monogram : YSL. I know who this girl is just by looking at her bag and cutout shirt.
95. Start to commute? : TELE. Telecommute.
100. Carry on : WAGE. As a war.
102. Large body of eau : MER
103. Keep mum : CLAM UP. Snazzy 6-letter entry.
104. Prefix with gram : EPI
105. Big initials in nutritional supplements : GNC
108. Westernmost Texas county : EL PASO
111. "__-Tiki" : KON
112. Layered cut : SHAG. Hard to pull it off.
114. Vice __ : VERSA
116. Fertilizer ingredient : PEAT
117. Interstate H-1 locale : OAHU
121. Emilia's husband : IAGO
122. 2012 U.S. Women's Open winner Na Yeon __ : CHOI. I forgot her name completely.
K. J. Choi is more familiar. CHOI is the same as Cui in Chinese.
123. Nothing but : MERE
124. Driving force? : ENGINE. Nice clue.
125. Stylish eatery word : CHEZ. Don't you want to be in Chez Lucina's?
126. Spots for holsters : HIPS
127. Footnote word : IDEM
128. Insurance __ : AGENCY
1. Hebrew for "my master" : RABBI. ADONAI is "my Lord".
2. Map collection : ATLAS
3. Refuse : TRASH. Noun "Refuse"
4. Personal quirks : TICs
5. Sioux language featured in "Dances With Wolves" : LAKOTA
6. Seasonal worker? : ELF
7. Sharp : ACID
8. Getting one's feet wet : WADING
9. Loud speaker : ORATOR. Loud indeed.
10. Nonexpert : LAY
12. Temporarily out, in baseball lingo : ON THE DL. And 42. Coming up soon : ON TAP. Patti normally does not allow these little "On", "Up", "The" dupes.
13. Far-away connection? : AND. Far and away.
14. State that declared its independence in 2008 : KOSOVO. From Serbia.
15. "Punch buggy" in a car trip game : VW BEETLE. And 85. Skipping nothing : FROM A TO Z. Two nice 8's.
16. Indian tea : CHAI
17. Bakery purchase : ROLL
18. Put out to sea : SAIL
24. Harbor a grudge against : RESENT
29. Unlikely to speak up : MOUSY
31. Frisco squad : NINERS. Never heard my sisters-in-law call their city "Friso".
34. Novelist Waugh : ALEC
36. Work hard : MOIL. Did you try TOIL again?
38. Bit of inline skating gear : KNEE PAD
40. Massachusetts resort : CAPE ANN
41. Pays to stay : RENTS
43. Stands the test of time : LASTS. Like my Shanghai Tang skirt. I bought it in 1998. I've been wearing that pair of shoes to death too. Lovers come and go, my taste in clothes stays the same, thankfully.
44. Ad writer's award : CLIO
45. Sure bet : LOCK
46. Sports shoe with a Cantilever heel : AVIA
48. Manicurist's concern : CUTICLE. My heart sank after reading Gary's pedi venture.
52. Drought-prone : ARID
53. "Gunsmoke" star : ARNESS (James)
54. "The Mod Squad" role : LINC
56. Not yours, in Tours : A MOI
59. Work on a bust : SCULPT
60. Addressee of two New Testament epistles : TIMOTHY. Got via crosses.
63. Salad dressing ingredient : VINEGAR
64. __ Kippur : YOM
66. Player : ATHLETE
68. Designer Wang : VERA
69. "O, that way madness lies" speaker : LEAR
70. Many a Balkan : SLAV
71. Hit the dirt? : SCRUB. Great clue.
72. Funereal ring : KNELL
73. Put an __: terminate : END TO
77. Super : A-ONE
78. Focus of some searching? : SOUL. Nice clue also.
79. Basilica area : APSE
81. Grass units : BLADES
86. "Borstal Boy" author Brendan : BEHAN. Unknown to me.
87. Particular : ITEM. Not en easy clue.
88. SUNY city on Lake Ontario : OSWEGO. Famous for what?
89. Book jacket part : FLAP
92. Rock 'n' roll era dance : SOCK HOP
93. Rams' home : ST. LOUIS
97. Scarf securer : BROOCH. So pretty.
98. Acted hastily : RUSHED
99. __ of influence : SPHERE
105. Wood pattern : GRAIN
106. Timberlake's old band : NSYNC. I like Justin Timberlake. Extremely talented and down to earth.
107. Jones of song : CASEY
108. Grand-scale tale : EPIC
109. Genesis wife : LEAH. Shout out to our Chickie!
110. Leaf : PAGE
113. "Beg pardon ..." : AHEM
115. Fringe : EDGE
118. Sushi-grade tuna : AHI
120. Pasture : LEA
Indie 500 crossword tournament will be held on Saturday, May 30, 2015 in Washington D.C. The constructors are all indie crossword constructors: Andy Kravis, Evan Birnholz, Peter Broda, Neville Fogarty & Erik Agard, who made two of my favorite LAT Mondays last year. They're holding a contest for the sixth constructor spot. The payment is $500 and the deadline is January 15th, 2015. Click here for the rules and submission details. Good luck!