THEME: B to B — six theme answers start and end with letter "B"
Wow, lots of screw-ups today on my way to completion, started with MEAL for DISH (1A: Entrée) and continued throughout the puzzle. Never saw the theme until I was done with the puzzle. Seems a rather superficial premise for a theme, but the resulting answers are interesting enough. Like today's NYT puzzle, this one felt more wide-open than your typical Monday puzzle. Long Downs in the NE and SW, and big blocks of 5s and 6s in the NW and SE made this Monday less easy to chew up than others. Having no coherent theme added a bit to the difficulty as well, but in the end it was still Monday easy.
- 17A: Excellent performance (BANG-UP JOB)
- 29A: Sci. class where many an "Eeuw!" is heard (BIO LAB)
- 46A: Bill for what you drank (BAR TAB)
- 62A: Satan (BEELZEBUB)
- 11D: Betray by bad-mouthing (BACK STAB)
- 39D: Angels or Dodgers (BALL CLUB)
- 5A: Beatnik's "Understood" ("I DIG") — The puzzle loves its beatniks. Another common answer to a clue like this is "I'M HIP." Beatniks also wear BERETS and play BONGOS and recite poetry at cafes. I have a hard time believing they ever actually existed. They seem always to have been fictional / legendary. I have a movie poster on my living room wall of the movie "The Beat Generation." The tag line: "Behind the weird 'way-out' world of the BEATNIKS!" Mmmm, Mamie van Doren.
- 19A: Big name in precision blades (X ACTO) — Wanted ATRA or something shaving related.
- 21A: Perp's excuse (ALIBI) — I like the clue.
- 24A: Winter fisherman's tool (ICE SAW) — See also ICE AX, which shows up in puzzles an awful lot.
- 26A: Out of kilter (AMISS) — Went with ASKEW. Also went with BALL TEAM for BALL CLUB, BACK TALK for BACK STAB, and ADAGE for MAXIM (9D: "A stitch in time..." is one).
- 41A: Skewered meal (KABOB) — Weird. Two wrong answers I wanted elsewhere in the grid (ASKEW and MEAL) turn up in the same clue (ASKEW and "Skewered" are close enough). Beware alternative spellings of KABOB. I think the "A" can be an "E" and (if "Flight of the Conchords" is to be believed) the "O" can be an "A."
- 60A: Conger catcher (EELER) — Always be thinking eels. They're eeverywhere.
- 10D: Vocalist Sumac (YMA) — She is also everywhere. Someday she will be the topic of Crosswordese 101.
- 41D: Be a nuisance at the card game (KIBITZ) — For such a Scrabbly word, it shows up quite a bit in xwords.
- 44D: "Krazy" comics feline (KAT) — Perhaps the greatest newspaper comic of all time. Also, the second half of a delicious kandy bar.
Everything Else — 1A: EntrÈe (DISH); 5A: Beatnik's "Understood" (IDIG); 9A: "I goofed" (MYBAD); 14A: Jacob's biblical twin (ESAU); 15A: The Beatles' "Love __" (MEDO); 16A: Italian violin maker (AMATI); 17A: Excellent performance (BANGUPJOB); 19A: Big name in precision blades (XACTO); 20A: Dangerous household gas (RADON); 21A: Perp's excuse (ALIBI); 23A: Author Kesey (KEN); 24A: Winter fisherman's tool (ICESAW); 26A: Out of kilter (AMISS); 28A: Old map letters (SSR); 29A: Sci. class where many an "Eeuw!" is heard (BIOLAB); 33A: Germany's von Bismarck (OTTO); 35A: Payment to an ex (ALIMONY); 36A: Light bulb unit (WATT); 37A: "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" playwright Edward (ALBEE); 40A: Gardner of film (AVA); 41A: Skewered meal (KABOB); 42A: Honey (DEAR); 43A: Register at the hotel (CHECKIN); 45A: Spanish surrealist (DALI); 46A: Bill for what you drank (BARTAB); 47A: Concorde, e.g. (SST); 50A: Academy trainee (PLEBE); 52A: Musical ineptitude (TINEAR); 54A: The Big Apple, initially (NYC); 55A: Eurasian range (URALS); 59A: Flourless cake (TORTE); 60A: Conger catcher (EELER); 62A: Satan (BEELZEBUB); 64A: Handles roughly (MAULS); 65A: Showed up (CAME); 66A: Old Bologna bucks (LIRE); 67A: Round trip? (ORBIT); 68A: Revue component (SKIT); 69A: Went under (SANK); 1D: Rubble (DEBRIS); 2D: Newton and Stern (ISAACS); 3D: Smoothing tool (SANDER); 4D: Science fiction awards (HUGOS); 5D: Babysitter's handful (IMP); 6D: __ vu (DEJA); 7D: "American __" (IDOL); 8D: Desert largely in Mongolia (GOBI); 9D: "A stitch in time ..." is one (MAXIM); 10D: Vocalist Sumac (YMA); 11D: Betray by bad-mouthing (BACKSTAB); 12D: Vouch for (ATTESTTO); 13D: Singer Celine (DION); 18D: Lacking what it takes (UNABLE); 22D: Eater of purÈed peas (BABY); 25D: Nintendo game system (WII); 27D: Dubuque native (IOWAN); 30D: Nebraska city (OMAHA); 31D: Tryst participant (LOVER); 32D: Put on __: pretend (ANACT); 34D: Tout's hangout, briefly (OTB); 35D: Eagle's nest (AERIE); 37D: Say further (ADD); 38D: 2012 is the next one (LEAPYEAR); 39D: Angels or Dodgers (BALLCLUB); 41D: Be a nuisance at the card game (KIBITZ); 43D: "Ten-four" speaker (CBER); 44D: "Krazy" comics feline (KAT); 47D: Belgrade's country (SERBIA); 48D: Ringed planet (SATURN); 49D: Host who expects you to question his answer? (TREBEK); 51D: Explode (BURST); 53D: Carols (NOELS); 54D: Verne captain (NEMO); 56D: First grade basics (ABCS); 57D: Faucet problem (LEAK); 58D: 18-wheeler (SEMI); 61D: Connecticut Ivy Leaguer (ELI); 63D: Allow (LET).