THEME: "Foreplay"—The last word of the five starred answers can follow FORE.
- 17A: *"Unbelievable!" ("OUTTA SIGHT!"). Retro slanginess! Foresight is the resulting thematic word.
- 25A: *Knitting aid, in a way (PLASTER CAST). You wear a cast to immobilize a fracture while the bones knit themselves back together. The cast in a forecast is entirely different in meaning.
- 37A: *Office component (MICROSOFT WORD). My favorite new Word toy is changing the case with shift-F3 when editing a manuscript. Not a new feature, but one I only learned a few months ago. The foreword appears at the beginning of a book and is decidedly not a "forward."
- 52A: *Legendary archer (WILLIAM TELL). Foretell. You like Rossini's "William Tell Overture" even when it's removed from a "Lone Ranger" setting, don't you?
- 61A: *Cartoon beeper (ROAD RUNNER). Meep-meep! Forerunner.
- 71A: Links warning, and a prefix with the second word of the answers to starred clues (FORE). Speaking of the links and golf, I hear Tiger Woods will play the Masters in April. We'll see if he still has that preternatural ability to focus on his game.
With 19 non-theme answers of 6 to 8 letters, this is a meaty puzzle. I especially like those corners with 4x6 blocks of fill intersecting theme entries.
All right, I didn't get to this puzzle as early as I'd hoped to, so let's get right to the rest of the fill:
- 10A: Part of C.W. Post: Abbr. (INIT.). Were you worried we were being quizzed on what the C. and W. are short for? Thankfully not.
- 14A: BCS org. (NCAA). Hey, we've moved on from college football, people. It's time for March Madness! The big basketball tournament starts tomorrow, so if you haven't filled out your bracket yet, get cracking!
- 20A: What you can't have success without? (ESSES). As in "multiples of the letter S."
- 43A: Like angry bees (ASWARM). I want each of you to use this word in conversation today. I plan to apply the word to the hordes of schoolchildren leaving the building after school tomorrow. Seriously, there are about 1,500 students at my son's school. SWARMS OF CHILDREN, people. SWARMS.
- 45A: Highway with a terminus at Dawson Creek, British Columbia (ALCAN). Dawson's Creek took place in the Carolinas.
- 58A: Japanese-American (NISEI). Nisei refers to one born in North America to parents who immigrated from Japan. Issei is an immigrant from Japan. Sansei (now, I've never seen this one in a crossword) is someone born here with grandparents who immigrated. When I see a clue like this, I fill in **SEI and wait for the crossings to tell me if I need NISEI or ISSEI.
- 60A: Almond __: crunchy candy (ROCA). Yum! I love Almond Roca. NYT constructor Matt Ginsberg's wife sometimes makes a big batch of roca before the ACPT, and I can't get enough of it. (Literally. Matt shares it with so many people that I only get a little bit.) Crunchy toffee coated with chocolate, plus almonds? That's a winner right there.
- 3D: Wakeboard relative (WATERSKI). Cool answer, that.
- 29D: Cold War agcy. (AEC). That's the Atomic Energy Commission, I believe. Superseded by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Crosswordese 101:—I had one French 3-letter word picked out for XW101, and then another leapt out at me. Quick two-fer: MER (23A: La Méditerranée, e.g.) and ECU (2D: Old French coin). ECU is most often clued exactly this way, but it's got another currency meaning: the erstwhile European currency unit abbreviated as ECU, which preceded the euro. MER is French for "sea," and you'll see a lot of fill-in-the-blank clues like Mal de ___ (seasickness) and Debussy's "La ___."
Everything Else — 1A: Repairs with thread (SEWS); 5A: Burning (AFIRE); 10A: Part of C.W. Post: Abbr. (INIT.); 14A: BCS org. (NCAA); 15A: Tot watchers' nicknames (NANAS); 16A: Muscle quality (TONE); 17A: *"Unbelievable!" ("OUTTA SIGHT!"); 19A: Radio toggle switch (AM/FM); 20A: What you can't have success without? (ESSES); 21A: Abate (EASE UP); 23A: La Méditerranée, e.g. (MER); 25A: *Knitting aid, in a way (PLASTER CAST); 28A: "Born Free" lioness (ELSA); 30A: Record book (LOG); 31A: Evaluates (RATES); 32A: Adopt, as a stray (TAKE IN); 35A: Cosmetic surgery, for short (LIPO); 37A: *Office component (MICROSOFT WORD); 42A: R.E.M.'s "The __ Love" (ONE I); 43A: Like angry bees (ASWARM); 45A: Highway with a terminus at Dawson Creek, British Columbia (ALCAN); 49A: Night sch. course (ESL); 51A: Give off (EMIT); 52A: *Legendary archer (WILLIAM TELL); 56A: Évian, for one (SPA); 57A: Each (APIECE); 58A: Japanese-American (NISEI); 60A: Almond __: crunchy candy (ROCA); 61A: *Cartoon beeper (ROAD RUNNER); 66A: Reactions to no-brainers (DUHS); 67A: "Coffee __?" (OR TEA); 68A: Nevada neighbor (UTAH); 69A: Renege on a dele? (STET); 70A: Oracles (SEERS); 71A: Links warning, and a prefix with the second word of the answers to starred clues (FORE); 1D: __-Cat (SNO); 2D: Old French coin (ECU); 3D: Wakeboard relative (WATERSKI); 4D: Exams for srs. (SATS); 5D: Yosemite photographer Adams (ANSEL); 6D: '60s-'70s Saudi king (FAISAL); 7D: Having one sharp, musically (IN G); 8D: Cry of support (RAH); 9D: Competitor of Helena and Coco (ESTEE); 10D: Mississippi River source (ITASCA); 11D: Vegan's credo (NO MEAT); 12D: Add, as if by pouring (INFUSE); 13D: Plays the siren (TEMPTS); 18D: Cleopatra's undoing (ASP); 22D: Equipment for 52-Across (ARROWS); 23D: Came across (MET); 24D: Jack of Westerns (ELAM); 26D: Recital performer (SOLOIST); 27D: Pre-weekend "Phew!" ("TGIF!"); 29D: Cold War agcy. (AEC); 33D: Like some unexpected endings (IRONIC); 34D: Lille denial (NON); 36D: Home-school link: Abbr. (PTA); 38D: Appear to be (SEEM); 39D: Have debts (OWE); 40D: Collides with (RAMS INTO); 41D: Leak (DRIP); 44D: Beantown transit syst. (MTA); 45D: Oscars and such (AWARDS); 46D: Curl around the edge of the hole without going in, in golf (LIP OUT); 47D: Stale expression (CLICHE); 48D: Blue Jays' div. (AL EAST); 50D: Bank, often (LENDER); 53D: Houston hockey team (AEROS); 54D: Turkish money (LIRAS); 55D: Sch. with a Shreveport campus (LSU); 59D: Ample, slangily (ENUF); 62D: Pay dirt (ORE); 63D: Had (ATE); 64D: Auditory organ (EAR); 65D: Scoreboard letters (RHE).