THEME: from T's to D's — phrases containing words with double-Ts have those Ts changed to Ds, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
My feelings toward this puzzle are basically warm, but it's a weird one in a lot of ways. First, not only was it easy (much easier than yesterday's, even), but it may be the easiest Friday I've ever done. Under 4 1/2 minutes on a Friday = insanity. What's weirder - the grid does not look like one I should have been able to dash through. Those are some big chunks of white at the top and bottom of this grid. It's hard to dust a puzzle off that has considerable white space, and the NW and SE are pretty dang wide-open. Only two black squares in the first three lines (and again in the last three lines) of the puzzle. That's white. But in the middle, by contrast, the white space gets shattered into a bunch of little pieces, such that there is no Down answer longer than 6 letters in the whole grid. Black squares shelter the theme answers, so that no Downs run through more than two of them at a time. So your middle is full of 3- and 4-letter words, which means more common / familiar fill, which means (because cluing was not pitched at a very difficult level) hot knife met butter as I moved down the grid.
The fill seems mostly strong, though the middle is full of a lot of more UGLIness than I'd like (25D: Wrinkly fruit), and RESEEK = fail. More fail = SYL, TODS (name another TOD, right now ... too late, time's up), AT NINE (true enough, but boo to arbitrary AT [blank] answer), and HOERS. WHORES yes, HOERS no. L.A. LAKER (47A: Staples Center NBAer) and STAR TREK (66A: 2009 film based on a TV show that premiered in 1966) are nice (I like Ks) and the very literal translation IN ITSELF (1A: per se) works very well too. The theme — it was OK. First answer, I didn't know the original phrase: PUTTING ON THE DOG. I think I saw it in an NYT puzzle once, but I've already forgotten what it means. Apparently it means 'to make a display of wealth or importance, especially by dressing stylishly and flashily'. Dates from 1860s. Mmm, dated. Didn't care much for the last theme answer either. The middle ones were more entertaining.
- 17A: Evidence of a spilled dessert? (PUDDING ON THE DOG)
- 22A: Nervous ticks? (SHUDDER BUGS)
- 35A: Linens for jockeys? (OFF-TRACK BEDDING)
- 51A: Slope where sycophants hang out? (NODDING HILL)
- 57A: What a yenta exam does? (TEST ONE'S MEDDLE) — I really wish a "yenta exam" were something.
Word of the Day: ENOS (56A: 1961 space chimp) — ENOS comes in many types, the "space chimp" variety being one of the more popular. ENOS went up to make sure it was cool for John Glenn, who orbited earth a year later. ENOS Slaughter was a successful baseball player of the 40s-50s, and he shows up in the grid from time to time. ENOS is also a biblical name (from the genealogies of Adam) and the name of a short-lived "Dukes of Hazzard" spin-off.
- 30A: Sicily's capital? (ESS) — this clue has three possible answer: one geographical, one financial, and the last one (our answer) alphabetical.
- 55A: Playground assertion ("IS TOO") — the playground taunt / retort / assertion brand of clue is much-reviled. And yet it never goes away.
- 9D: Fried fare often served with applesauce (LATKES) — never sure about that "E." Wants to be an "A" thanks to "Taxi."
- 23D: Group dance done while holding hands (HORA) — downside of speed-solving: sometimes you don't read the clue completely. I had HULA.
- 38D: Site of the active volcano Mount Agung (BALI) — I did not know that.
- 49D: Exhibit Darwinism (EVOLVE) — I thought Darwinism was a theory of evolution, not evolution itself. I'm not sure what the distinction is, but it *feels* important.
That's all. Enjoy the weekend.
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Everything Else — 1A: Per se (IN ITSELF); 9A: Research, in a way (LOOKUP); 15A: Statue, perhaps (MEMORIAL); 16A: When some shifts start (AT NINE); 17A: Evidence of a spilled dessert? (PUDDING ON THE DOG); 19A: Symbol of love (EROS); 20A: Any of the Beverly Hillbillies (YOKEL); 21A: PC linkup (LAN); 22A: Nervous ticks? (SHUDDER BUGS); 28A: Consider overnight (SLEEP ON); 30A: Sicily's capital? (ESS); 31A: Figured out (GOT); 32A: They're usually rolled out (TARPS); 34A: Hipbones (ILIA); 35A: Linens for jockeys? (OFF-TRACK BEDDING); 41A: Miss equivalent? (MILE); 42A: W, once (YALIE); 43A: Sports drink suffix (-ADE); 44A: Pinch, so to speak (NAB); 47A: Staples Center NBAer (L.A. LAKER); 51A: Slope where sycophants hang out? (NODDING HILL); 54A: It may be added to impress (-IVE); 55A: Playground assertion (IS TOO); 56A: 1961 space chimp (ENOS); 57A: What a yenta exam does? (TESTS ONE'S MEDDLE); 63A: "The Joy Luck Club" author (AMY TAN); 64A: Fetch (RETRIEVE); 65A: Artist's home, perhaps (COLONY); 66A: 2009 film based on a TV show that premiered in 1966 (STAR TREK); 1D: Drives forward (IMPELS); 2D: __ network (NEURAL); 3D: "Finished!" ("I'M DONE!"); 4D: "Dracula" (1931) director Browning et al. (TODS); 5D: Hindu honorific (SRI); 6D: Cologne article (EIN); 7D: Jet problem? (LAG); 8D: Rock's Pink __ (FLOYD); 9D: Fried fare often served with applesauce (LATKES); 10D: Catchall column heading (OTHERS); 11D: Produce amt. (ONE LB.); 12D: Tease (KID); 13D: Game with Draw Two cards (UNO); 14D: Takedown unit? (PEG); 18D: Junction point (NODE); 22D: Bandy words (SPAR); 23D: Group dance done while holding hands (HORA); 24D: Offensive to some, briefly (UN-P.C.); 25D: Wrinkly fruit (UGLI); 26D: Cross the threshold (GO IN); 27D: Beast with a rack (STAG); 29D: Suffix which may be 24-Down (-ETTE); 33D: Shade of blue (SKY); 34D: Flash of sorts (IDEA); 35D: Arabian Sea nation (OMAN); 36D: Generic pooch (FIDO); 37D: Hightailed it (FLED); 38D: Site of the active volcano Mount Agung (BALI); 39D: Airline to Eilat (EL AL); 40D: Pickle flavoring (DILL); 44D: Xterra maker (NISSAN); 45D: "I come to bury Caesar" speaker (ANTONY); 46D: Weed __: lawn-care product (B GON); 48D: More caring (KINDER); 49D: Exhibit Darwinism (EVOLVE); 50D: Look for again (RESEEK); 52D: "Same here!" ("DITTO!"); 53D: Weed whackers (HOERS); 56D: Work for Money, maybe (EDIT); 57D: Part of a winning trio (TAC); 58D: Musical genre related to punk (EMO); 59D: Dict. division (SYL.); 60D: An hour's worth of tunes, maybe (SET); 61D: NYC subway inits. (MTA); 62D: Mess up (ERR).