THEME: Run Away! — theme answers end with RETREAT, WITHDRAWAL, and FLIGHT, respectively
Interesting choice of theme combined with very solid fill. Sadly, it was so easy that it was barely there. Almost utterly insubstantial. Never saw the theme, and barely saw half the clues, before I was done. When you deprive your grid of any (non-theme) answer longer than 6 letters (and precious few answers that are even that long), your grid is bound to lack compelling fill. The longer your answers, the more interesting you can be (and the harder the grid is to fill). We have 42 black squares today, chopping the grid into tiny sections of mostly 4-letter words. Kind of a snooze. Again, to the constructor's credit, there is very, very little bad fill (esp. tough when there is so much short fill to take care of — most bad fill is short fill). Only NAMER makes me wince even a little bit (65A: Christener). But then only CYPRUS gives me even a little bit of pleasure (28A: Mediterranean island republic).
[Cypress Hill, "Insane in the Membrane" — PROFANITY warning]
Interestingly, NAMER and CYPRUS were about the only places where my pace slowed at all. Went in a straight line from NW to SE, then cut over to SW, then up to W, over to E, and finally up to NE and N, with ESTES being the last thing I filled in. Speaking of ESTES...
Crosswordese 101: ESTES (8D: Colorado's _____ Park) — my sister lives very near here. One time my mom's ... boyfriend? (guy she has now lived with for well over a decade, whatever you call *that* guy ... I call him "Keith") ... was driving me to my sister's wedding in the foothills of the Rockies and overshot the turnoff and he and I ended up at ESTES Park. That is what ESTES Park means to me. And my sister. There is also an opera singer named ESTES — [Bass-baritone Simon] — and an actor named Rob (from the original "Melrose Place"). Apparently Adlai Stevenson's running mate was named ESTES as well. ESTES Kefauver. With a name like that, how in the world did he lose!? The letters in ESTES are ultra-common, even if no particular ESTES is, and so you will see ESTES in xwords from now 'til eternity.
- 20A: Corporate-sponsored vacation (COMPANY RETREAT)
- 40A: Retirement account transaction that may incur a penalty (EARLY WITHDRAWAL)
- 59A: Local airline trip (COMMUTER FLIGHT)
See you Friday
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Everything Else — 1A: A little batty (DAFT); 5A: Fills completely (SATES); 10A: Skips, as ads on a taped show (ZAPS); 14A: "Garfield" dog (ODIE); 15A: What an ump's protector protects (CHEST); 16A: Approximately (OR SO); 17A: Former Italian coins (LIRE); 18A: Main blood line (AORTA); 19A: Loch with a legend (NESS); 20A: Corporate-sponsored vacation (COMPANY RETREAT); 23A: Ruhr valley city (ESSEN); 24A: Largest continent (ASIA); 25A: Sicilian volcano (ETNA); 28A: Mediterranean island republic (CYPRUS); 33A: Place to retire to? (BED); 36A: Tournament matches before finals, briefly (SEMIS); 39A: Matador's foe (TORO); 40A: Retirement account transaction that may incur a penalty (EARLY WITHDRAWAL); 44A: "Iliad" setting (TROY); 45A: Big name in tractors (DEERE); 46A: __-mo replay (SLO); 47A: Challenge a verdict in a higher court (APPEAL); 50A: Money you owe (DEBT); 52A: Follow, as a suspect (TAIL); 55A: Love poetry Muse (ERATO); 59A: Local airline trip (COMMUTER FLIGHT); 64A: "A guy walks into a bar ..." may start one (JOKE); 65A: Christener (NAMER); 66A: Go-__: small racer (KART); 67A: Gets it wrong (ERRS); 68A: Dolly the sheep, for one (CLONE); 69A: Fencing blade (ÉPÉE); 70A: Herbal brews (TEAS); 71A: Sharpened (HONED); 72A: Crystal gazer (SEER); 1D: "La __ Vita" (DOLCE); 2D: "Later, amigo" (ADIOS); 3D: Law corporations, e.g. (FIRMS); 4D: Conical abode (TEEPEE); 5D: CAT procedure (SCAN); 6D: Greeting at sea (AHOY); 7D: __ cotta (TERRA); 8D: Colorado's __ Park (ESTES); 9D: Unwanted radio noise (STATIC); 10D: No-fly __ (ZONE); 11D: Locale (AREA); 12D: Sibilant attention getter (PSST); 13D: Brillo rival (SOS); 21D: Unable to sit still (ANTSY); 22D: Jamie Foxx biopic about singer Charles (RAY); 26D: Previously unseen (NEW); 27D: In the thick of (AMID); 29D: School org. (PTA); 30D: Lines of seats (ROWS); 31D: River through southern Russia (URAL); 32D: Unaccompanied performance (SOLO); 33D: Alpha, __, gamma (BETA); 34D: Wyatt of the Old West (EARP); 35D: Bit of medicine for the eye or ear (DROP); 37D: Suffix with meteor (-ITE); 38D: Tool house (SHED); 41D: Caustic potash (LYE); 42D: Dr. of rap (DRE); 43D: Insurrectionist (REBEL); 48D: 24-hr. cash dispenser (ATM); 49D: Cape Canaveral event (LAUNCH); 51D: Tots' rides (TRIKES); 53D: "Boot" country prefix (ITALO); 54D: Iced tea flavor (LEMON); 56D: Wide open (AGAPE); 57D: Crowd quota? (THREE); 58D: Playful river critter (OTTER); 59D: Planetary center (CORE); 60D: Cajun vegetable (OKRA); 61D: Army meal (MESS); 62D: Actress Russo (RENE); 63D: Barney's Bedrock pal (FRED); 64D: "Jumbo" flier (JET).