THEME: Doing something to a significant degree (?), OR, "verbING adjective-as-adverb"
A barely coherent theme, but a nicely filled grid, so no major complaints. Why AIMING HIGH? RIDING or FLYING seem sooooo much better. All the other theme answers are about DOING something, not TRYING to do it. WALKING, TALKING, LIVING ... AIMING? Boo. Unless there is something uniting all these answers that I just don't see, which is always possible. Is ACES WILD really a game unto itself? Sounds like a variation of poker or some other card game rather than a self-standing game (39D: Game in which "bullets" can be whatever card you decide). Clue on MAKE TIME (a nice phrase) is rather dull, and does not convey the sense of fitting something in where there might not (officially) be time for it (4D: Provide a schedule slot (for)). If there is a slot to provide, then you aren't really "making" anything. Also, I'm partial to the old-fashioned slang meaning of MAKE TIME, i.e. to flirt with or court someone. Lost most of my time (and I didn't lose much) at WAS ON, which is just horrible as an answer (53A: Aired, as a TV show). Otherwise, a fine, if forgettable, puzzle.
- 17A: Striding self-confidently (WALKING TALL)
- 11D: Shooting for the stars (AIMING HIGH)
- 29D: Carrying on conceitedly (TALKING BIG)
- 60A: Enjoying an extravagant existence (LIVING LARGE)
Crosswordese 101: AVIA (36D: Nike competitor) — should read Nike's Far Less Famous competitor. AVIA make athletic apparel, primarily footwear. Their website is weirdly fancy / animated. I sometimes get AVIA confused with ASICS. Also, with the late 90's Sarah McLachlan hit "ADIA," which is itself crosswordese.
What else? — the stuff I liked
- 48A: Team supporters, collectively (FAN BASE) — wonderful, in-the-language phrase I've never seen in a grid before (as far as I remember).
- 46A: Words while delivering a blow ("TAKE THAT!") — wow, violent. Sweet.
- 34D: Six-sided (HEXAGONAL) — double your HEXES fun (13D: Whammies).
- 6D: Crop yielding a common sweetener (SUGAR CANE) — I went for something CORN at first (thinking "high fructose CORN syrup") but made it back to the more obvious answer pretty easily.
See you Friday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: Heats a bit (WARMS); 6A: Movie music (SCORE); 11A: Cigar residue (ASH); 14A: Like loud crowds (AROAR); 15A: "Family Matters" nerd Steve (URKEL); 16A: "I like __": '50s campaign slogan (IKE); 17A: Striding self-confidently (WALKING TALL); 19A: Blender setting (MIX); 20A: Having sufficient skill (ABLE); 21A: No-brainer college course (EASY A); 22A: Lamp-to-plug link (WIRE); 23A: God of thunder (THOR); 25A: Short races (SPRINTS); 27A: It's a virtue, so they say (PATIENCE); 31A: iTunes download (SONG); 32A: Midterms, e.g. (EXAMS); 33A: Emitted a delighted sigh (AAHED); 35A: Beaver or boater (HAT); 38A: Tick off (RILE); 39A: Paid to play (ANTED); 40A: Hepcat's jargon (JIVE); 41A: Condescending cluck (TSK); 42A: Climbing tool for frozen surfaces (ICE-AX); 43A: TV host Philbin (REGIS); 44A: About, in a memo (IN RE); 46A: Words while delivering a blow (TAKE THAT); 48A: Team supporters, collectively (FAN BASE); 51A: Hobbling gait (GIMP); 52A: Tiny pond plant (ALGA); 53A: Aired, as a TV show (WAS ON); 55A: Wolf's shelter (LAIR); 59A: Dry gently, as tears (DAB); 60A: Enjoying an extravagant existence (LIVING LARGE); 62A: Brit. record co. (EMI); 63A: "Maria __": 1940s song (ELENA); 64A: Kitchen tearjerker (ONION); 65A: Pooch (DOG); 66A: '50s Ford flop (EDSEL); 67A: Part of a Santa costume (BEARD); 1D: Muted trumpet sound (WAWA); 2D: Mideast native (ARAB); 3D: Dice throw (ROLL); 4D: Provide a schedule slot (for) (MAKE TIME); 5D: Indian title (SRI); 6D: Crop yielding a common sweetener (SUGAR CANE); 7D: PC monitors (CRTS); 8D: Gives the nod to (OKAYS); 9D: Went off the wagon, e.g. (RELAPSED); 10D: Right-angled pipe (ELL); 11D: Shooting for the stars (AIMING HIGH); 12D: Mini, midi or maxi (SKIRT); 13D: Whammies (HEXES); 18D: Casino sign gas (NEON); 22D: Finish in front (WIN); 24D: "For __ a jolly ..." (HE'S); 26D: Towel holder (ROD); 27D: Saucy (PERT); 28D: Graph's x or y (AXIS); 29D: Carrying on conceitedly (TALKING BIG); 30D: Bother big-time (EAT AT); 34D: Six-sided (HEXAGONAL); 36D: Nike competitor (AVIA); 37D: Try out (TEST); 39D: Game in which "bullets" can be whatever card you decide (ACES WILD); 40D: 747, for one (JET PLANE); 42D: Nest egg component, for short (IRA); 43D: Sleep lab acronym (REM); 45D: Org. with dribblers (NBA); 47D: Crowned checker (KING); 48D: Washed-out (FADED); 49D: San Antonio mission (ALAMO); 50D: Gutter sites (EAVES); 54D: Trig function (SINE); 56D: La Scala solo (ARIA); 57D: Operatic prince (IGOR); 58D: Tear apart (REND); 60D: Filmmaker Spike (LEE); 61D: Soft toss (LOB).