THEME: All "Hands" on deck ... — theme clues are commands that contain the word "HANDS": "Hands up!" / "Hands down!" / "Hands off!"
Not a lot of fun here. Puzzle has a very, very loose theme, but the up / down / off progression has a certain charm, I guess. REACH FOR THE SKY (20A: "Hands up!") and LEAVE THAT ALONE (55A: "Hands off!") are good (though I had trouble getting "THAT" quickly - wanted "IT"), but (and this is a big but) NO MORE QUESTIONS ... who says "Hands down!" to mean that (39A)? Do you really say "Hands down!" to mean "NO MORE QUESTIONS?" In class? At a press conference? What's most irking (to me) about this answer is that, if the clue were not supposed to be a command, the clear best possible answer (in 15 letters) is WITHOUT QUESTION. As in "He is, hands down, WITHOUT QUESTION, the best hitter in Major League Baseball." PENCILS DOWN! is a command I can hear someone saying. Who barks at people to put their hands down when they want to ask questions?
Crosswordese 101: FAQS (28D: Web pages with basic site info) — internet terminology gives constructors another handy way to use "Q" without having to use a "U." For those who don't know, FAQ stands for "Frequently Asked Questions." It is my experience that FAQS frequently go unnoticed and unread. At least once a week someone sends me an email asking me the #1 question on my website's FAQ ("Why is there always one highlighted answer / one blue square in your posted grid?"). I have learned that lots of people who find their way to my website (now sites, plural) are not used to dwelling in the virtual world. Fundamentally paper and pencil/pen people, and so you (I) have to have a ton of patience for people who want to participate and enjoy your site but are just learning to figure out how to navigate websites effectively. Half my mail involves some technical question, and sometimes those questions lead me to redesign the site to make something more intuitive / easier to understand. Anyhoo — FAQ. If you ever consider writing a site owner with a question, check to see if s/he has a FAQ first.
Long Downs in this one are good, and provide an entertainment value that the theme itself really doesn't have (except REACH FOR THE SKY, which I really like). I like that all the long Downs remind me of being in junior high and high school, when I would play VIDEO GAMEs incessantly (3D: Purchase for your Xbox), when I still ate (from time to time) in a CAFETERIA (10D: Food fight site), and when I could eat DOUGHNUTS (36D: Dunked snacks) with impunity because the matter of my own LONGEVITY (32D: Years on the job) was really not a pressing concern.
Oh boy, my internet connection seems to have left the planet. Better wrap this up and hope that things are back in order quickly.
- 14A: _____ Litella: Gilda Radner's "Never mind!" character (Emily) — One of many SNL characters I knew about as a kid without ever having watched the show. See also Mr. Bill. Apparently my peers had late-night TV access that I didn't.
- 61A: Old-time drummer Gene (Krupa) — A great name for crosswords.
[Gary Cooper takes notes on hepcat slang ... awesome]
- 4D: Gonzalez in 2000 news (Elian) — Oh man, that was some drama. The kind of stuff that kept 24 hr. news networks busy before 9/11.
- 34D: 1990s-2000s host of "The Tonight Show" (Leno) — Timely, as he just ended his stint as host on Friday. Conan starts tonight.
- 57D: Corrida critter (toro) — I'm on a one-man campaign (as yet, largely unsuccessful) to get anything that comes up higher than your knee and / or is not wild declassified as a "critter." Won't you please join my cause?
Everything Else — 1A: Covers with asphalt (PAVES); 6A: Deer little one (FAWN); 10A: Little cow (CALF); 15A: "That's clear now" (I SEE); 16A: One illegally off base (AWOL); 17A: "The Thinker" sculptor (RODIN); 18A: Expected landing hrs. (ETAS); 19A: Payroll tax that funds Soc. Sec. (FICA); 23A: Fit for the military (ONE-A); 24A: Do a slow burn (SEETHE); 25A: Use a shovel (DIG); 27A: Backside (DUFF); 30A: Pub pint (ALE); 31A: Like a childhood stage, to Freud (ORAL); 33A: Like fantastic tales (TALL); 35A: Do-__: desperate (OR-DIE); 42A: Public disturbance (SCENE); 43A: Right triangle ratio (SINE); 44A: Razor-billed birds (AUKS); 45A: Diamond or ruby (GEM); 47A: Doofus (DOLT); 49A: Fed. auditing agency (GAO); 50A: "Pet" sources of irritation (PEEVES); 53A: Speed-of-sound word (MACH); 59A: Not in favor of (ANTI); 60A: Two-thirds of Santa's laugh (HO HO); 63A: Refreshing rapper/actor? (ICE-T); 64A: Lead-in for sees or seas (OVER); 65A: Pentium maker (INTEL); 66A: Say it isn't so (DENY); 67A: Floor model (DEMO); 68A: Letters before tees (ESSES); 1D: Part of mph (PER); 2D: Señorita's love (AMOR); 5D: Matched, as dubbed dialogue to mouth movements (SYNCED); 6D: Feudal estate (FIEF); 7D: Regarding (AS TO); 8D: Has on (WEARS); 9D: Summer refresher with a three-leaf logo (NESTEA); 11D: Make-__ Foundation (A-WISH); 12D: English philosopher John (LOCKE); 13D: Chef Bobby (FLAY); 21D: Terre __, Indiana (HAUTE); 22D: Serf of ancient Sparta (HELOT); 25D: Puts on (DONS); 26D: Camaro __-Z: muscle car (IROC); 29D: Lighter __: Zippo filler (FLUID); 37D: Durante's "__ Dinka Doo" (INKA); 38D: "Happy motoring" gas (ESSO); 40D: Christopher who played Superman (REEVE); 41D: Alabama march city (SELMA); 46D: Way of doing things (METHOD); 48D: Nonsilent film (TALKIE); 50D: London change (PENCE); 51D: Gone from one's plate (EATEN); 52D: Push hard (SHOVE); 54D: Preserves, as beef (CORNS); 55D: Let go, with "off" (LAID); 56D: Attention getter (AHEM); 58D: Fencing sword (EPEE); 62D: Capp and Gore (ALS).