THEME: "Multi-level Clue Action"—Three theme clues lead to solid 15-letter entries, which in turn clue a fourth entry in a three-way literal play
That definition of the theme is as clear as much, isn't it? In this case, it's easier to show than to tell.
- 17A: *Nightly news show segment (WEATHER FORECAST). In Seattle, the forecast often includes rain.
- 27A: *Big Apple show (BROADWAY MUSICAL). One musical I've never seen is Cats.
- 49A: *1955 Disney animated film featuring Darling Dear (LADY AND THE TRAMP). Lady and Tramp are both dogs, cocker spaniels. (Edited to add: No, wait. Lady's a cocker spaniel and Tramp is something else altogether.)
- 65A: Come down in buckets; also, when applied in sequence to the answers to starred clues, this puzzle's theme (RAIN CATS AND DOGS). RAIN in the forecast, CATS on Broadway, AND DOGS in the cartoon.
Don't think I'm giving you a clip of Cats—not when there's Ella Fitzgerald and Ol' Blue Eyes on order.
What else? Here are my favorite answers and clues:
- 1A: Square after Connecticut Avenue on a Monopoly board is JAIL.
- 14A: Jessica of "Sin City" (ALBA).
- 57A: Pisa place kinda sounds like "pizza place." ITALY is where Pisa is, and where pizza's from.
- 71A: Ginger cookie (SNAP). Christmas is coming, and every year, my aunt and cousin bake a slew of festive cookies. I'm partial to their ginger snaps, teeny little crunchy nuggets less than an inch across.
- 1D: ___ of Life (JAWS. Isn't "Jaws of Life" one of the best brand names ever?
- 5D: One who'll be comin' round the mountain, in song (SHE). I almost made you watch this laughably bad "cartoon" of the song (if you click the link for the horrid cartoon, be prepared for bleeding ears and eyes), but then I considered 13D: Folk icon Seeger (PETE) and this video. (You're welcome.)
- 31D: Hall of Famer Robin of the Milwaukee Brewers (YOUNT). My husband grew up near Milwaukee, so I like this one on his behalf.
- 64D: "This just ___ my day" (ISN'T). Aw, I wanted it to be "this just MADE my day."
Everything Else — 5A: "Take a hike!" ("SCRAM!"); 10A: Wax remover (Q-TIP); 15A: Israeli seaport (HAIFA); 16A: Choice in a booth (VOTE); 20A: Match starter (SERVE); 21A: Danger (PERIL); 22A: Add color to (DYE); 23A: Veiled consent? (I DO); 25A: "__ Abner" (LI'L); 36A: Houston Aeros' org. (AHL); 37A: Brass or pewter (ALLOY); 38A: Overplay a part (EMOTE); 39A: Breakfast corner (NOOK); 41A: Long Island __ (SOUND); 43A: Poker Flat chronicler Harte (BRET); 44A: To the point, in law (AD REM); 46A: Author Nin (ANAÏS); 48A: Evian, par exemple (EAU); 52A: __-cone (SNO); 53A: Show about Capote (TRU); 54A: Candy in 12-piece dispensers (PEZ); 61A: Two-time opponent of Ike (ADLAI); 68A: Witty Bombeck (ERMA); 69A: Light refrain (TRALA); 70A: Equally divided (EVEN); 72A: Gobbled up (EATEN); 73A: Doctor's advice (REST); 2D: Not windward (ALEE); 3D: Construction beam (I-BAR); 4D: Baltic country (LATVIA); 6D: Bellyache (CARP); 7D: Teeming (with) (RIFE); 8D: Get an __ effort (A FOR); 9D: Henner of "Taxi" (MARILU); 10D: Home shopping channel (QVC); 11D: Small hopper (TOAD); 12D: __-bitsy (ITSY); 18D: Ibsen's "__ Gabler" (HEDDA); 19D: Beethoven's "Für __" (ELISE); 24D: Mice catchers (OWLS); 26D: Arm, e.g. (LIMB); 27D: ClichÈd (BANAL); 28D: Neighbor of Mary (RHODA); 29D: Prayer starter (O LORD); 30D: Tons (A LOAD); 32D: Mimicking bird (MYNAH); 33D: Chick of jazz (COREA); 34D: First-stringers (A TEAM); 35D: Ease off (LET UP); 40D: Piano's 88 (KEYS); 42D: Reduction plan (DIET); 45D: Frenzied (MANIC); 47D: Valuable violin, for short (STRAD); 50D: Write, as music (NOTATE); 51D: Steering device (RUDDER); 54D: Co. VIP (PRES.); 55D: Merit (EARN); 56D: Coors malt beverage (ZIMA); 59D: Exam for an aspiring D.A. (LSAT); 60D: It's a lock (YALE); 62D: Tennis score (LOVE); 63D: Important periods (AGES); 66D: Afternoon break (NAP); 67D: One of the Bobbsey twins (NAN).