THEME: "TIME" (71A: Given moment, which can begin both parts of the answer to starred clues)
Yes, BOTH parts, not just the first part. That's the (ideal) way to do a "Word that can follow" or "Word that can precede"-type puzzle. At first I blazed through the puzzle and thought only the first words of each answer were implicated in the TIME theme. Then I did what one should probably do routinely, which is read the clue closely. Before that, I was imagining all the different words that might have been used (WARP, TRAVEL, etc.). But he managed to get eight different example to make four perfectly good two-word phrases. Really nice work. With so many negative words in the grid (e.g. AWFUL, SCARY, LOSER), I'm glad I don't feel inclined to use any of them to describe the puzzle. Instead, only happy thoughts. GAMS! (1A: Shapely legs, slangily)
- 17A: *Like secret military facilities, to civilians (OFF LIMITS)
- 10D: *One-armed bandit (SLOT MACHINE)
- 24D: *Movie that evokes prior times (PERIOD PIECE)
- 64A: *Furniture with folding legs, usually (CARD TABLE)
The theme answers seem oddly unified for a random assortment of two-word phrases that happen to fit the theme. Two are terms from the world of gambling. If you made a movie today about Monte Carlo in the 1960s and had some of it take place in a back room that was OFF LIMITS to anyone but high rollers ... well, there you go. Thematic unity.
Crosswordese 101: RHEA (15A: Flightless South American bird) — the Rodney Dangerfield of non-extinct flightless birds. Everyone knows the OSTRICH and EMU and PENGUIN and KIWI, but to most of the U.S. I'm guessing RHEA is that lady who played Carla on "Cheers" (RHEA Perlman). That, or the titaness known as the "mother of gods," after whom the birds were named (for reasons that Wikipedia doesn't understand). RHEAs are omnivorous, polygamous, and have three toes.
- 50A: "The Avengers" heroine, to Steed (MRS. PEEL) — mmm hmm. Yes. More please. MRS. PEEL was not DITSY (21A: Scatterbrained). She was smart and smoking hot. Here is some VIDEO (45A: Part of VCR) [side note, our VCR is currently sitting curbside with our former TV table — come and get it!]
See you Friday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: Shapely legs, slangily (GAMS); 5A: Peak (ACME); 9A: Makeup maven Lauder (ESTEE); 14A: Actor McGregor (EWAN); 15A: Flightless South American bird (RHEA); 16A: Not cloudy (CLEAR); 17A: *Like secret military facilities, to civilians (OFF LIMITS); 19A: "Lucy, you got a __ 'splainin' to do!" (LOTTA); 20A: High on the hwy. (DUI); 21A: Scatterbrained (DITSY); 22A: Gillette razors (ATRAS); 23A: Slip by (ELAPSE); 25A: Give life to (ANIMATE); 27A: Artist's support (EASEL); 30A: 401(k) cousin, briefly (IRA); 31A: Like horror films (SCARY); 34A: Not worth debating (MOOT); 36A: Chowder ingredient (CLAM); 40A: Actress Spelling (TORI); 41A: Moisten the bird (BASTE); 42A: One who saves the day (HERO); 43A: Screwy (LOCO); 44A: Golden __: senior citizen (AGER); 45A: Part of VCR (VIDEO); 46A: Souse's affliction, for short (DTS); 48A: Red-breasted bird (ROBIN); 50A: "The Avengers" heroine, to Steed (MRS. PEEL); 54A: Log-on need (USER ID); 58A: Old photo tint (SEPIA); 59A: Muscat resident (OMANI); 62A: Suffix in enzyme names (-ASE); 63A: Towels (off) (DRIES); 64A: *Furniture with folding legs, usually (CARD TABLE); 66A: 1/16 of a pound (OUNCE); 67A: Cancel, as a newspaper story (KILL); 68A: Ski slope lift (T-BAR); 69A: Villainous look (SNEER); 70A: __ gin fizz (SLOE); 71A: Given moment, which can begin both parts of the answers to starred clues (TIME); 1D: Crystalline stone (GEODE); 2D: Beyond bad (AWFUL); 3D: Cosa Nostra (MAFIA); 4D: NBC show with Baba Wawa skits (SNL); 5D: Military forces (ARMIES); 6D: IOU (CHIT); 7D: Queens ball team (METS); 8D: Unchallenging college course (EASY A); 9D: Oblong cream puff (ECLAIR); 10D: *One-armed bandit (SLOT MACHINE); 11D: Prefix with -cycline (TETRA); 12D: Trouble greatly (EAT AT); 13D: Clear, as a tape (ERASE); 18D: "My guess is ..." ("I'D SAY ..."); 24D: *Novel that evokes prior times (PERIOD PIECE); 26D: TV's Nick at __ (NITE); 28D: 'Zine on the Net (EMAG); 29D: Runner-up (LOSER); 31D: Initials on a Cardinal's cap (STL); 32D: Dove sound (COO); 33D: Golf ball path (ARC); 35D: Other, in Mexico (OTRO); 37D: Had followers (LED); 38D: "__ you kidding?" (ARE); 39D: Cow sound (MOO); 41D: Military command center (BASE); 45D: Stop in on (VISIT); 47D: Ad to lure you in (TEASER); 49D: __ of joy: new baby (BUNDLE); 50D: Popular PC interface before Windows (MS-DOS); 51D: Second showing (RERUN); 52D: Chiropractor's target (SPINE); 53D: Secures using a key (LOCKS); 55D: Synagogue leader (RABBI); 56D: Muslim's faith (ISLAM); 57D: Tractor maker John (DEERE); 60D: Letters in a box (MAIL); 61D: Singer Guthrie (ARLO); 65D: Lawyer: Abbr. (ATT.).