THEME: Lots of Ps — theme answers are two-word phrases where first word (2 syllables) starts with "P" and second word (two syllables) is some variant of P-P(P)ER.
I don't mind these sound-alike themes — they can be quite entertaining — but this one was just OK for me. Liked PARTY POOPER and PICKLED PEPPER (though not thrilled about the singular PEPPER, as they are plural in the tongue twister). Not so fond of POPCORN POPPER (with its repeat "POP") or POSTER PAPER (which is just dull). Also, look out for identical strings of four letters, especially very close to one another in the grid. Somehow PESTO's being just three up from ESTO was distracting today. Biggest downer of the day was the abundance of plural abbreviations (plurals and abbreviations being two kinds of answers you want to keep to a minimum in general — put them together, and well ... no, just don't, if you can help it). Some of these are more annoying than others. Today, I already had to deal with a lot of plurals in general, so AT NOS. and ICBMS and PDAS stood out, collectively, as a bit over-the-top. I'm letting KILOS slide, as it's not an initialism, and unlike AT. NOS., you say it like a word. In fact, it's the standard unit of measurement for drugs (esp. coke ... or so I hear).
- 20A: Piece of Peter Piper's peck (PICKLED PEPPER)
- 37A: School project medium in large rolls (POSTER PAPER)
- 44A: Killjoy (PARTY POOPER) — would love to see KILLJOY in the grid.
- 59A: Cinema counter fixture (POPCORN POPPER)
Had serious slowdowns all up and down the CHERRY PIE section of the puzzle (11D: Fruity dessert). APEX to XES (10A: Highest point / 13D: George Strait's "All My ___ Live in Texas") worked so nicely that I had trouble giving it up (for the correct ACME and EXS). Also had MAC for HAM (33D: Cheese go-with), and got stumped for a bit at RHYME (32A: What sips and nips do). Ended up a good 45 seconds to a minute slower than my normal Monday time on the LAT. Still under 4, though.
Crosswordese 101: PDAS (63D: Palmtop computers: Abbr.) — Personal Digital Assistants. This initialism will go (if it has not already gone) the way of the dodo, replaced by the now ubiquitous SmartPhones, which do what original "palmtops" (horrible word) do, and much much more. First time I ever heard the term "PDA," it referred to "public displays of affection." This is my favorite line from the Wikipedia page on "Public display of affection":
In most of Europe, Canada, and the United States it is normal to see people holding hands or kissing in public. In nightclubs it is also common for men and women to "grind" (a form of dancing) or dance closely.That's it.
See you Friday.
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Everything Else — 1A: Feds concerned with bogus bills (T-MEN); 5A: Drug bust finds (KILOS); 10A: Highest point (ACME); 14A: Like collectible coins (RARE); 15A: Sky color (AZURE); 16A: Wheat, corn or rice cereal (CHEX); 17A: Several (A FEW); 18A: __ plume: pen name (NOM DE); 19A: Whacks with an ax (HEWS); 20A: Piece of Peter Piper's peck (PICKLED PEPPER); 23A: Backyard hangout (PATIO); 24A: Whiskey grain (RYE); 25A: Fled the scene (RAN); 28A: Andrea __: ill-fated ship (DORIA); 32A: What sips and nips do (RHYME); 34A: +, on a batt. (POS.); 37A: School project medium in large rolls (POSTER PAPER); 40A: Italian wine city (ASTI); 42A: Minister's residence (MANSE); 43A: Heed (MIND); 44A: Killjoy (PARTY POOPER); 47A: Dreyer's partner in ice cream (EDY); 48A: Colorful quartz (AGATE); 49A: Comedian Wanda (SYKES); 51A: Stitch (SEW); 52A: Illuminated (LIT); 55A: Basil-and-pine-nuts sauce (PESTO); 59A: Cinema counter fixture (POPCORN POPPER); 64A: __ job: trickery (SNOW); 66A: Transfusion fluid (BLOOD); 67A: The sound of music (TONE); 68A: Handbasket rider's destination? (HELL); 69A: Brainy group (MENSA); 70A: This, in Tijuana (ESTO); 71A: Slippery fish (EELS); 72A: Collar stiffeners (STAYS); 73A: Dick Tracy's love (TESS); 1D: "The Sound of Music" family name (TRAPP); 2D: Sicilian secret society (MAFIA); 3D: Standing tall (ERECT); 4D: Recent block arrival (NEW KID); 5D: "Citizen __" (KANE); 6D: Former reptilian logo brand (IZOD); 7D: Sugar cube (LUMP); 8D: "__ in the court!" (ORDER); 9D: Oozy (SEEPY); 10D: Aspirin target (ACHE); 11D: Fruity dessert (CHERRY PIE); 12D: Bit of cat chitchat (MEW); 13D: George Strait's "All My __ Live in Texas" (EXS); 21D: Feature of a tied shoelace (LOOP); 22D: Cop's collar (PERP); 26D: Change, as a law (AMEND); 27D: Totally unhip (NERDY); 29D: Frolic (ROMP); 30D: World Golf Hall of Famer Aoki (ISAO); 31D: Periodic table figs. (AT. NOS.); 33D: Cheese go-with (HAM); 34D: Dads (PAPAS); 35D: Missouri River tributary (OSAGE); 36D: Informal opinion sampling (STRAW POLL); 38D: Lay eyes on (ESPY); 39D: Really stink (REEK); 41D: Addams family cousin (ITT); 45D: Canine cry (YELP); 46D: Result of an auto loan default, briefly (REPO); 50D: Trio plus four (SEPTET); 53D: Missiles in silos, for short (ICBMS); 54D: "Vacancy" ("TO LET"); 56D: Reckon, in the boonies (S'POSE); 57D: Revival structures (TENTS); 58D: Creme-filled cookies (OREOS); 60D: Avian symbols of wisdom (OWLS); 61D: Author Jaffe (RONA); 62D: Overly inquisitive (NOSY); 63D: Palmtop computers: Abbr. (PDAS); 64D: "Steady as __ goes" (SHE); 65D: Born, in marriage announcements (NÉE).