THEME: THE POWER OF TEN (51A: Exponential measurement, and in way, what's demonstrated in how answers were formed in 20-, 34- and 41-Across?) — "IO" (which looks like Arabic number "10") is added to the ends of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued wackily
Really liked this. If you're going to add a letter (or letters) to create wackiness, at least give the addition (or subtraction, or whatever) a sense of purpose, a reason for being. Puzzle needs a hook. Raison d'être! THE POWER OF TEN is a great and unexpected exclamation point for a puzzle that seemed to be merely an ADDIO puzzle. As I was solving I was imagining a line of dolls or action figures featuring IO — priestess-turned-cow of classical mythology — in various unlikely scenarios, e.g. playing cards, running a lab maze, etc.
20A: Barbecue area without chairs? (STANDING PATIO)
34A: Relative value used in a scientific workplace? (LABORATORY RATIO)
41A: Small apartment for a comical septet? (SEVEN CARD STUDIO)
Best parts of the grid for me were ROMANNOSE (4D: Prominent facial feature) — because I don't think I've seen that in a grid before and it looks funny — and FINIS (32D: "Done!") — because I hear people say it but have never thought how to spell it (wanted "FINIT!" at first). FINIS looks like you wanted to put in FINISH but didn't have enough room left to, you know, FINISH. I had to deal with a couple of names I didn't know, namely (!) MOIRA (29D: Kelly of "One Tree Hill") — that show is still on the air!? How is that possible? — and EDEN (54D: 1950s British prime minister. It's 1950s day in puzzleworld today (see esp. the NYT). I did not get the memo.
Crosswordese 101: MT. IDA (31D: Highest peak on Crete: Abbr.) — can't believe we haven't even done IDA yet, let alone MTIDA. IDA and OSSA (in their MT-ed and unMT-ed versions) are crossword staples, ancient peaks that get a lot of grid play. IDA can also be a state abbrev., a Lupino, or a Morgenstern. Both peaks were sacred to gods. IDA is on Crete, whereas OSSA is well up the Peloponnesian peninusla in Thessaly.
- 1A: Sugar substitute? (DEAR) — very nice. Knew exactly what the clue was going for, trick-wise, but uncovering the pet name was still a pleasure.
- 15A: Rival rival (ALPO) — knew this was ALPO before I ever saw the clue, which is good, because ... I do not recognize "Rival" as a dog food at all.
- 17A: Hobart resident (TASMANIAN) — Tasmania also has a MT. OSSA.
- 46A: "O, gie me the ___ that has acres o' charms": Burns (LASS) — that doesn't rhyme. Saw it was Burns and wrote in LASS (had a cross or two in place). Really expected that when I looked at the clue carefully, I'd see an "ASS" rhyme.
- 66A: Chuck ___, only coach to win four Super Bowls (NOLL) — coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who used to play (under NOLL) in Three Rivers Stadium. One of the rivers that gave the stadium its name: the OHIO (63A: One of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers).
See you Monday,
Everything Else — 1A: Sugar substitute? (DEAR); 5A: Flirtation (PASS); 9A: Travel needs, perhaps (VISAS); 14A: End of an estimate (OR SO); 15A: Rival rival (ALPO); 16A: __ coffee (IRISH); 17A: Hobart resident (TASMANIAN); 19A: Lip-smacking (TASTY); 20A: Barbecue area without chairs? (STANDING PATIO); 22A: Certain mil. member (NCO); 23A: Gray head? (LEE); 24A: Cereal ingredient (BRAN); 27A: Stallone role (RAMBO); 31A: Plant activity: Abbr. (MFG.); 34A: Relative value used in a scientific workplace? (LABORATORY RATIO); 38A: Lost a lap? (AROSE); 39A: Padre's hermana (TIA); 40A: Snacking (on) to excess (OD'ING); 41A: Small apartment for a comical septet? (SEVEN-CARD STUDIO); 44A: Before, in verse (ERE); 45A: Backspace, often (ERASE); 46A: "O, gie me the __ that has acres o' charms": Burns (LASS); 47A: Word-word link (FOR); 49A: Pres. between JAG and GC (CAA); 51A: Exponential measurement, and in a way, what's demonstrated in how answers were formed in 20-, 34- and 41-Across? (THE POWER OF TEN); 58A: Bread (MOOLA); 59A: Like clones (IDENTICAL); 61A: What an X may indicate (ERROR); 62A: Supply, as paper to a copier (FEED); 63A: One of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers (OHIO); 64A: California baseballer (GIANT); 65A: Signs (INKS); 66A: Chuck __, only coach to win four Super Bowls (NOLL); 1D: Pointillism unit (DOT); 2D: Periods of interest (ERAS); 3D: __ mgr. (ASST.); 4D: Prominent facial feature (ROMAN NOSE); 5D: Ill-fated opener of myth (PANDORA); 6D: Et __: and others (ALII); 7D: Bridge (SPAN); 8D: Berlin number (SONG); 9D: Curriculum __ (VITAE); 10D: Fit to be tied (IRATE); 11D: Spanish ayes (SÍ SÍ); 12D: Reference words (AS TO); 13D: Unassuming (SHY); 18D: Mandela's gp. (ANC); 21D: Gamer's maneuver (PLOY); 24D: Apathetic (BLASE); 25D: Harder to dig up (RARER); 26D: Upstairs (ABOVE); 28D: Fragrant oil (ATTAR); 29D: Kelly of "One Tree Hill" (MOIRA); 30D: Wire fasteners (BRADS); 31D: Highest peak on Crete: Abbr. (MT. IDA); 32D: "Done!" ("FINIS!"); 33D: "We Got the Beat" singers (GO-GOS); 35D: TV Chihuahua (REN); 36D: Baloney (ROT); 37D: Excessive flattery (ADULATION); 42D: Uno minus uno (CERO); 43D: They can ruin diets (SECONDS); 47D: Pen resident (FELON); 48D: Illusionary genre (OP ART); 50D: Back on the water (AFT); 51D: Famous Amos (TORI); 52D: Joyful group dance (HORA); 53D: Coffeehouse connection (WIFI); 54D: 1950s British prime minister (EDEN); 55D: Offend the olfactories (REEK); 56D: Empty hall effect (ECHO); 57D: Pointed fastener (NAIL); 58D: Unit of RAM (MEG); 60D: Texter's tehee (LOL).