THEME: "NEWBIE" (49D: Tyro, and a hint to this puzzle's theme)— add-a-"B" to beginning of familiar phrases, get wacky phrases, clue appropriately
Add-a-letter puzzles, as you know, do little-to-nothing for me. But at least this one has a clever theme-revealer — one more interesting than "BIN" or "BON" or whatever other answer might have been used. NEWBIE is a bit misleading, as only one of the answers actually has an OLD "B," but I can deal with that. Today, 3/4 of the theme answers are actually reasonably interesting, with only BOLD TIMER just taking up space. I wish I had a BLOG CABIN. Nothing but books, food, a bed, my dogs, and a computer. I'd probably miss my family inside of 48 hours, but ... I don't know. They can visit.
- 17A: Daring track official? (BOLD TIMER)
- 10D: Clinton enjoying some R and R? (BILL AT EASE)
- 31D: Immortal comedian's donkey imitation? (BRAY OF HOPE)
- 63A: Online journalist's retreat? (BLOG CABIN)
Crosswordese 101: EMIL Zátopek (1A: Four-time Olympic gold-medal runner Zátopek) — Probably not the most common EMIL you'll run across in the grid, but common enough for me to have encountered him multiple times. If you've never heard of him before, just be glad you didn't encounter him the first time the way that I did — as a last name. Yeesh. Try figuring out the letters in ZATOPEK on a tough Friday. Nightmare. EMIL Jannings is probably the most common EMIL — he's an olde-timey actor. There's also the title character from "EMIL and the Detectives," pianist EMIL Gilels, and Expressionist painter EMIL Nolde.
- 47A: Matriarchal nickname (GRAN) — I call my GRAN "Grandma," so this took a long time. I actually had "-RAN" and thought "... FRAN?" I'm going to my Grandma's 90th birthday party in St. Maries, Idaho in just three weeks. Can't wait. I may or may not have created ... something ... for the occasion, which I may or may not share with you. Eventually. As longtime readers know, my Grandma is the first person I ever saw work a crossword puzzle.
- 7D: Jennyanydots's creator, initially (TSE) — my thoughts: "that name is so stupid that it must be one of those stupid cats from "Cats"; other thought: "just write TSE; it's the most common literary monogram in puzzledom."
- 40D: Juju or grigri (TALISMAN) — seriously, between this clue, and the GREBE clue, and the TSE clue, it's like Silly Word Day up in this puzzle. "Grigri!"
See you Monday,
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
Everything Else — 1A: Four-time Olympic gold-medal runner Z·topek (EMIL); 5A: Park way (PATH); 9A: Shame (ABASH); 14A: Hacking knife (BOLO); 15A: Rebel (RISE); 16A: Petulant mood (PIQUE); 17A: Daring track official? (BOLD TIMER); 19A: Zaftig (PLUMP); 20A: Trouser measurement (INSEAM); 21A: "Twilight" heroine (BELLA); 23A: Introduction to a former self? (NÉE); 24A: "The Mikado" baritone (KOKO); 27A: Give a hand to (DEAL IN); 30A: Dabchick, for one (GREBE); 32A: Cost an arm and __ (A LEG); 34A: Do a garage job (TUNE); 35A: Cannes's region (RIVIERA); 37A: __'acte (ENTR); 38A: They're usually in the 80s and 90s (OCTANES); 41A: Toon who played Scrooge (MR. MAGOO); 43A: Maker of Definity skin care products (OLAY); 44A: Works on, as a novel (REVISES); 46A: Sport with riders (POLO); 47A: Matriarchal nickname (GRAN); 48A: Core belief (TENET); 52A: Put the kibosh on (STIFLE); 54A: Suggestive look (LEER); 56A: Two-legged meat source (EMU); 57A: First name in puppetry (SHARI); 59A: Battles with bombers (AIRWAR); 61A: Stars travel in them (LIMOS); 63A: Online journalist's retreat? (BLOG CABIN); 66A: Get used (to) (ADAPT); 67A: __ Grey tea (EARL); 68A: Dam buildup (SILT); 69A: X-ray targets (BONES); 70A: Whitehall whitewall (TYRE); 71A: Tijuana tender (PESO); 1D: Flowing back (EBBING); 2D: One offering his seat? (MOONER); 3D: "Let me check" ("I'LL SEE"); 4D: Bonanza (LODE); 5D: A-one (PRIMO); 6D: End (AIM); 7D: Jennyanydots's creator, initially (TSE); 8D: Mint, say (HERB); 9D: User of the prefix "i-" (APPLE); 10D: Clinton enjoying some R and R? (BILL AT EASE); 11D: Inspiring apparatus (AQUALUNG); 12D: Result of considering the pluses? (SUM); 13D: With it (HEP); 18D: Consume (TAKE IN); 22D: Awards named for a writer (EDGARS); 25D: Kind of roll (KAISER); 26D: Fútbol game cheer (OLÉ); 28D: Intrigued with (INTO); 29D: Ruler from LIV to LXVIII (NERO); 31D: Immortal comedian's donkey imitation? (BRAY OF HOPE); 33D: Fur that's a symbol of royalty (ERMINE); 36D: Church caretaker, in Chelsea (VERGER); 38D: "__!...I Did It Again": Britney Spears album and hit song (OOPS); 39D: Blood __ (CLOT); 40D: Juju or grigri (TALISMAN); 42D: Like a tonne of bricks? (METRIC); 45D: Kilmer of "Top Gun" (VAL); 49D: Tyro, and a hint to this puzzle's theme (NEWBIE); 50D: Computer letters (EMAILS); 51D: Ask for help from (TURN TO); 53D: Keeps going (LASTS); 55D: Golfer's coup (EAGLE); 58D: Cynical response (I BET); 60D: Hoarse sound (RASP); 61D: Testing site (LAB); 62D: Phrase said before taking the stand (I DO); 64D: Not ordained (LAY); 65D: Two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner (ORR).