Theme: KKKKKKKKKK. marti and Jerome strike us out swinging.
Avoiding any politically incorrect references, I had lots of fun with my Friday friend, collaborating with our very own Jerome Gunderson and producing their punishing puzzle; this is clearly their MAJOR METIER. A refreshing and rather less difficult Friday, filled with humor (dark and otherwise) and NOT a definition puzzle. I also have to thank Jerome for all the "J" words, because I am pretty sure they did not come from miss m. While add a letter is not a new theme, the pictures painted from merely adding a "K" to the end of the three letter word ending in "UN", the last word in an in the language phrase is well done. The symmetry of each lastword being _UNK elevates this from a mere add a letter. It entertains me that unk also means unknown....
20A. Buff ancient ruler? : ATTILA THE HUNK. (13). By far my favorite theme answer, Revealed the theme early on; great visual.
28A. Own a few James Brown albums? : HAVE SOME FUNK. (12). Not my favorite tune from JB, but it FITS. (4:52).
49A. Leaps over an oily mud puddle? : JUMPS THE GUNK. (12). Reminds me of the classic Fonzie jumping the shark, and sharknado. and see 27D.
59A. Beef baloney? : HAMBURGER BUNK. (13). Not a bed made from meat, but a bunch of hooey.
1. Auto club offering : TOW. Not being a great typist, I often type TOW when I mean TWO. These days the car insurance policy and the credit card have eliminated my need for AAA.
4. Gregory Peck role : AHAB. Not my first thought; he starred in the 1956 version, WATCH (3:11). Two interesting things about that version, first Orson Welles as Rev. Mapple and second, Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay. After seeing the theme, with Attila, I wanted this to be ATTICUS, but it did not fit. And do not forget to Call me...45D. Crewman for 4-Across : ISHMAEL.
8. Foster on a screen : JODIE. I remember her from The Courtship of Eddie's Father.
13. Stretches of history : ERAS.
15. He actually played the lyre : NERO. Yes, but it would ruin the "he fiddled while Rome burned" pun. Lyre jokes are saved for lawyers.
16. Amherst sch. : UMASS. An old rival from my UConn days. The institution where Bill Cosby earned his PhD.
17. Two-time NBA MVP Steve : NASH. The Canadian passing wizard now with the Lakers. CLIP. (2:50).
18. Component of ocean H2O : NACL. Aye, the salt please.
19. Lawn game using lobbed missiles : JARTS. They are no longer pointed javelins.
23. Attorney general before Thornburgh : MEESE. Did you all miss Ed?
24. Yank's foe : REB.
25. Dudes : HES.
33. Fez, e.g. : HAT. I could not fit in WILMER. Do you think Raj is the 21st century version?
36. Bankruptcy factor : DEBT.
37. Polynesian island nation : SAMOA. If you ever visit Fort Lauderdale, whether you look me up or not, go to the MAI KAI restaurant and watch their Polynesian show. People always go back for the show, the drinks and because...they want SAMOA.
38. "Break __!" : A LEG. An old Theater SUPERSTITION of unknown origin, or maybe too many origins.
40. Fare named for its shape : T-BONE. Steak.
43. Fabric quantity : BOLT. My grandfather was a retired tailor, so we grew up with many bolts of cloth around the house.
44. Mother of three French kings : JOAN I. My big UNKNOWN, though perped easily.
46. Shiny fabric : LAMÉ. Not a lame answer,
48. Arctic coast explorer : RAE. We have had this explorer with the nice vowels before. LINK. I think in a Sunday puzzle in March or May of this year. On Mondays and Tuesdays we get Charlotte.
53. DSL user's need : ISP. Internet Service Provider.
54. Mao's successor : HUA. GUOFENG. Mao supposedly wrote: "With you in charge, I'm at ease" (Ni ban shi, wo fang xin 你办事我放心).
55. Sticky-footed lizard : GECKO.
64. Botanist's category : FLORA. This actress was unique, while her little sister was one of a bunch. Who are they?
66. Dweeb : NERD.
67. Size measure : AREA.
68. Competitor's dream : TITLE. To win the title of ....the Open Championship?
69. A bit off the ground, "up" : TEED. Golf, as opposed to ____off.
70. Sound like an ass : BRAY. Oh this is so tempting...
71. Bobbin : SPOOL. Like I said, my grandfather was a tailor.
72. Ketel One competitor : SKYY. Never tried this brand.
73. NFL stats : YDS. Yards.
1. Common break hr. : TEN AM.
2. Speak : ORATE. See 70 across.
3. Refuse : WASTE. Tricky, do not refuse to consider refuse.
4. "Pitch Perfect" co-star Kendrick : ANNA.
5. Summer phenomenon : HEAT. in Miami, we consider the HEAT a year round phenomenon; right LeBron?
6. Curved support : ARCH.
7. Short jacket : BOLERO.
8. Concession stand candy : JUJUBES. My nickname as a small child; my mother would give me a handful and I would hold on tight, and fall asleep. I loved how they made the extra effort to make the candy fruit shaped. LINK.
9. Easternmost Arabian Peninsula country : OMAN.
10. "Dr. Strangelove" feature : DARK HUMOR. Really awesome satire for the TIME. And the ironic inclusion of 26D. __ Gay : ENOLA.
11. Adherent's suffix : IST.
12. Start to stop? : ESS. Nice word play. First letter in "stop".
14. With 52-Down, grilled fare : SHISH. 52D. See 14-Down : KEBAB. Some reason reminds me of the boys from New Zealand. Notice the entries are symmetrical.
21. Take control : LEAD.
22. Bottom line? : HEM. Not last week's A LINE.
27. Ray in the ocean : SKATE. Hmm, they are cousins to each other and sharks. Next to....
29. Boxer's attendant : VET. Not Ali, but your woof woof. Another Gareth B. reference.
30. Fall back : EBB.
31. It's a wrap : STOLE. Oh my, the combined wit of these two professionals...I am sure they each contributed half to this puzzle. I guess I can say that this is marti a 50% wit, then.
32. "Terrif!" : FAB. Back in the 60s.
33. Pilgrim to Mecca : HAJJI.
34. Diamond clan : ALOUS. Felipe, Matty, Jesus and Moises. Baseball.
35. Trophy case memento : TEAM PHOTO.
39. Econ. measure : GNP. Gross National Product.
41. Bug : NAG.
42. Earthbound bird : EMU.
47. Tech sch. grad : ENGR. Engineer.
50. Slow boat : TUB. They are named from the shape, and boat came before the bath.
51. Hangs around the house? : HAUNTS. Loved this clue. And this VERSION. (7:48).
56. Pungent Thai dish : CURRY. Yum.
57. Play with, as clay : KNEAD. Most kids need to knead.
58. Gives the go-ahead : OKAYS.
60. First name in folk : ARLO. You newbies have not heard my Arlo at Woodstock rant, but....
61. Cause wrinkles, in a way : REEK. The clue should have been " Tortured servant in service to House Bolton"
62. Joel of "Wicked" : GREY. Son of Catskills legend Mickey Katz and father of Jennifer, who is married to Clark Gregg, now in the new Shield TV series.
63. Water whirled : EDDY.
64. Some mil. bases : FTS. Forts.
65. Edge : LIP. A familiar usage for golfers, who are forever leaving putts on the lip.
Well, I am on the edge of getting out of here for the long holiday weekend after a really entertaining joint effort from two of our wittiest, wisest word warriors. Lemonade wishing you all a great Columbus weekend and clear sailing. Thanks Jerome and Marti.