Theme: "Mum's the Word" — Theme answers are phrases a person might say to explain their silence.
- 17A: Non-speaking line? (MY LIPS ARE SEALED).
- 22A: Non-speaking line? (I'M ALL EARS).
- 34A: Non-speaking line? (WORDS ESCAPE ME).
- 50A: Non-speaking line? (NO COMMENT).
- 57A: Apt adage for this puzzle (SILENCE IS GOLDEN).
Awesome puzzle today. I really enjoyed this one. The theme is clever and the theme answers are all perfectly smooth, nothing forced. I can imagine someone saying every one of these "non-speaking lines." The only clunkers that jumped out at me were UNARM and CASER (14A: Render weaponless / 52D: Crime planner). Other than that, the fill is pleasantly diverse. We're spanning the pop culture spectrum from Li'l ABNER to The "BIONIC Woman" to and AMELIE (66A: "Li'l" guy / 46A: Jaime Sommers, TV's "__ Woman" / 12D: 2001 French film starring Audrey Tautou). For food, you have a choice of SPICY Thai or ORE-IDA Tater Tots (25D: Like much Thai cuisine / 44D: Tater Tots maker). With the colloquial SO AND SO and "I'M GONE" (43A: Blankety-blank type / 47D: "Later, bro"), really the only other thing you could ask for is a really cool constructor's name. Oh wait! We've got that too!
- 1A: Thumper's buddy (BAMBI). Pop quiz. Who's Bambi's aunt?
- 40A: Vital anatomical passage (AIRWAY). I was thinking "I'm sure there are a lot of vital anatomical passages ... Oh vital vital!"
- 49A: The Phantom of the Opera (ERIK). Other Erik-with-a-Ks to watch out for: composer Satie and CHiPs actor Estrada.
- 6D: President with a Grammy (OBAMA). He won a 2008 Best Spoken Word Album Grammy for the audio version of his The Audacity of Hope.
- 24D: Lhasa __: Tibetan dog (APSO). I can never remember this one. I think "Ipso? ... Apsa? ..." and wait for the crosses.
- 33D: Country where Hägen-Dazs H.Q. is (USA). Very tricky!
- 35D: Continue to irritate (RANKLE). We saw this word in a puzzle not too long ago. Liked it then; like it now.
- 46D: Five-time Wimbledon champ (BORG). Sigh.
- 59D: "How could I miss that?!" ("DUH!"). I was going to expound upon the differences between D'OH and DUH but decided to give my Inner Nerd the day off. I'll just say that, to me, DUH is not properly clued here.
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Everything Else — 6A: La Scala production (OPERA); 11A: Cap seen on a brae (TAM); 15A: Ad target (BUYER); 16A: "If you ask me," in chat room shorthand (IMO); 20A: "__ at 'em!" (LEMME); 21A: Spill the beans (TATTLE); 26A: Word after pig or pony (TAIL); 27A: State of rest (REPOSE); 28A: Little women (PETITES); 31A: Aurora's Greek counterpart (EOS); 32A: Romantic hopeful (SUITOR); 41A: George Gershwin's brother (IRA); 53A: Magnetic inductivity units (TESLAS); 56A: Soda size (LARGE); 62A: Summer drink (ADE); 63A: Too trusting (NAIVE); 64A: Prefix with surgery (NEURO-); 65A: Smidgen (TAD); 67A: Bygone anesthetic (ETHER); 1D: Mooch, as a ride (BUM); 2D: "__ questions?" (ANY); 3D: Start to practice? (MAL-); 4D: Under-the-sink brand (BRILLO); 5D: Gets moving (IMPELS); 7D: Not as diluted (PURER); 8D: Look over (EYE); 9D: Remaining part (REST); 10D: .17 square miles, for Vatican City (AREA); 11D: Attack à la Don Quixote (TILT AT); 13D: Cover girls, e.g. (MODELS); 19D: Worn things (ATTIRE); 22D: Fury (IRE); 23D: Cat call (MEOW); 29D: Greek "H" (ETA); 30D: High point (TOP); 32D: Attach, as a patch (SEW ON); 36D: Accomplished (DID); 37D: Some coll. students (SRS.); 38D: Diamond source (MINE); 39D: Celtic land (ERIN); 42D: Behave (ACT); 43D: Goes after (SETS AT); 45D: Like theaters (AISLED); 48D: Brunch staple (OMELET); 51D: Source of edible oil (OLIVE); 54D: "Happy tune" whistler of Broadway (ANNA); 55D: Picketer's bane (SCAB); 58D: "Ich bin __ Berliner!" (EIN); 60D: Before, before (ERE); 61D: Negative conjunction (NOR).