Theme: Let's Go to the Theater! — Theme answers end with words associated with the theater.
- 18A: Homemade radio (CRYSTAL SET).
- 59A: Last part (FINAL STAGE).
- 3D: Baseball play that may be "suicide" (SQUEEZE PLAY).
- 27D: Common autograph site (PLASTER CAST).
Crosswordese 101: Not much to choose from today, which is nice. We've already covered ERTÉ (4D: One-named Deco artist) and SST (13D: Bygone British Airways plane, briefly), so today we'll focus on OP-ART (2D: Eyeball-bending genre). The first several times I saw this in a puzzle, I couldn't parse it to save my life. Then the next few times, it took a few seconds but I had my "aha!" moment. Now, it's pretty much a gimme. OP-ART is generally described in clues as dizzying, eye-popping, or psychedelic.
I had a heckuva time down in the Texas area where I first entered AMFM for 68A: Car radio button. When I realized it had to start with an S, I changed it to scan, giving me Marcia for 48D: "My Little __": 1950s Gale Storm sitcom, which sounded fine to me. When it was obvious Marcia was wrong, I tried Marcie and — eventually! — found my way to the correct MARGIE.
- 1A: Canseco of baseball fame (JOSÉ). I love to start off with a big, fat gimme at 1-Across!
- 9A: Diving ducks (SMEWS). I'm sure I've seen this before, but I couldn't come up with it without a few crosses. As a matter of fact, I entered the W off of WEE (12D: Quite small) and thought it was wrong.
- 17A: Ship-related: Abbr. (NAUT.). Lots of abbreviations today, which is never a good thing. See also AGT. (37A: CIA operative), LTS. (36D: Grads of 31-Down), and that's not even counting the slew of acronyms. Yikes!
- 26A: Lhasa __ (APSO). I got it right today! I was just commenting on a puzzle recently that I always get mixed up on this one because I think of the phrase ipso facto.
- 43A: Seashore fliers (ERNS). Another candidate for CW101. I think Orange once explained to me the difference between ERNS and ERNES, but I don't remember now.
- 7D: Turntable needles (STYLI). Plural of stylus.
- 21D: North Carolina athlete (TARHEEL). Shout-out to my girl Stardust who taught me this: Whose House? Heels' House!
- 31D: Mil. training inst. (OCS). Officer Candidate (or Cadet) School. This is a generic term for this type of institution, unlike USMA (66A: DDE's alma mater), which specifically refers to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
- 34D: Ticker (CLOCK).
- 56D: Mike Doonesbury's daughter, in comics (ALEX). This seems like a pretty obscure clue for a Tuesday.
- 62D: "Benevolent" fellow (ELK). That's what the B stands for in BPOE (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks).
Everything Else — 5A: Screen material (MESH); 14A: Quartet before S (OPQR); 15A: Introductory drawing class (ART I); 16A: Gives a ticket to (CITES); 20A: Say "Howdy!" to (GREET); 22A: Settings for weddings (ALTARS); 23A: Co. that merged into Verizon (GTE); 24A: Director's directive (ACTION); 30A: Greek played by Anthony Quinn (ZORBA); 32A: Small waves (RIPPLES); 34A: Moravians, e.g. (CZECHS); 36A: Polygraph flunker, probably (LIAR); 38A: Terminate, as an insurance policy (LAPSE); 39A: Mail Boxes ___ (ETC.); 40A: Follow (ENSUE); 42A: Source of Rockefeller's wealth (OIL); 45A: Nag (PESTER); 46A: Held protectively, as an infant (CRADLED); 48A: Chop up (MINCE); 49A: Actor __ Luke who played Chan's Number One Son in old films (KEYE); 50A: Off one's rocker (INSANE); 52A: Nutrition letters (RDA); 55A: Louis who wrote Western novels (LAMOUR); 57A: Chops up (DICES); 63A: "The War of the Worlds" enemy (MARS); 64A: Atmospheric layer (OZONE); 65A: Villain's forte (EVIL); (USMA); 67A: Office copy (XEROX); 69A: Stick around (STAY); 1D: Mah-__ (JONGG); 5D: Brit's raincoat (MAC); 6D: Printing slip-ups (ERRATA); 8D: Like chronicles of the past (HISTORIC); 9D: Capone feature (SCAR); 10D: Grammy-winning country singer Ronnie (MILSAP); 11D: Sci-fi staples (ETS); 19D: Patty Hearst's SLA alias (TANIA); 25D: "Numb3rs" network (CBS); 28D: Smooth transition (SEGUE); 29D: Big name in blenders (OSTER); 33D: Primped (PREENED); 35D: Congo, formerly (ZAIRE); 39D: Back-of-the-book listings (ENDNOTES); 41D: Pres. advisory team (NSC); 44D: Champagne-producing city (REIMS); 45D: Jewelry box item (PIN); 47D: The "D" in FDR (DELANO); 51D: Sophisticated (SUAVE); 53D: Skin layer (DERMA); 54D: Test one's metal (ASSAY); 58D: Don of talk radio (IMUS); 59D: Henhouse raider (FOX); 60D: Suffix with civil (-IZE); 61D: Here-there link (NOR).