Theme: Follow the waters
For those who attempted this without the circles the theme was most assuredly deeply submerged, but if you know your major world rivers and you understood 34A was the hint, it was a very fun paddle, though some white waters to avoid. JW has become a regular contributor to our entertainment, with this being his 17th publication in the 18 months or so since his first trip to the LAT stage. marti has done most of the explicating, but this will be my 5th, the first almost exactly one year ago. Each has been a very different type, as well from anagrams, to homonyms to definitions. This is the first with any "gimmick" as the theme answers crawl over both across and down fill, giving each name the "bend" which is the hidden treasure. I hope you enjoy this Friday freshness. Presenting the theme will be different, but here goes.
River one: PECOS running from 17A down the middle of 3D.
River two: GANGES running up from 5D though 4A.
River three: AMAZON running backwards in 19A and down 1D.
River four DANUBE running from 58A up 41D.
River five: NIGER running backwards in 62A and up 44D.
River six: THAMES running down the middle of 51D and backwards across 67A.
and the Hint/ reveal at 34A. Topographic feature represented in this puzzle's circles : RIVER BEND. This tells you the river names bend around the answers.
The rest of the puzzle does not exactly feel like a Friday with one nine letter fill the longest, but 22 of fill are 7 letter answers including some fun ones. Let's get going
1. __-de-sac : CUL. Well this dead end is our beginning.
4. Consumes : INGESTS.
11. Privately keep in the email loop, briefly : BCC. Blind Courtesy Copy.
14. New START signatory : USA. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Double your initial pleasure.
15. Unexpected result : FALLOUT. This was hard for me, I guess I was raised in too sheltered an environment.
16. Bit of cybermirth : LOL. My Romanian friend thought this was Lots of Love for a long time.
17. Upper-bod muscle : PECtoral. Like these...
18. With great energy, in music : AGITATO. The Italian influence, I will defer (yes I corrected it manually, not autocorrect) to JzB.
19. Gp. that declared obesity a disease : AMA. Once again we are seeing lots of initialisms.
20. Natives who met Lewis and Clark near modern-day Council Bluffs : OTOS. More natives, 64D. Cheyenne allies : ARAPAHO.
22. Scent : ODOR.
23. Puts one's feet up : LAZES. This is a word I never see outside of the crossword world, you? Do you laze about?
25. Go the distance : LAST. Why does this sound sexual to me? Followed immediately by...
26. Desire : YEN.
27. Stopper, with "the" : KIBOSH. I had better put the Kibosh on that line of thought.
28. Pretended to be : ACTED AS. Another toughie for me, that perped itself out.
30. Bow tie preference : AL DENTE. Love this clue, it was cooked just right!
31. Likely to tax one's budget : STEEP. Gee honey, the prices here are awfully steep.
32. Corrida cry : OLE.
33. Greenskeeper's supply : SOD. The seniors are back in Boca Raton playing this week; are you going Dennis? The ones I have met and played with are all very nice. 47A. Not good for a pro, usually : OVER PAR.
39. Inflate : PAD. The bill, not a balloon; tricky for three letters.
42. Hyde's birthplace? : LAB. Dr. Jekyll's of course, another wonderful clue.
43. Less furnished : BARER. Why furniture?
50. Traditional process for hammock making : MACRAME. How many crafty people are at the Corner?
52. "The Canterbury Tales" inn : TABARD. Oh the depths of memory, it has been so long since Chaucer. Interestingly according to wiki, it was built by the Abbot of Hyde. A Tabard is the tunic you see in the depictions of the crusades etc.
53. Geometric fig. : CIRcle.
54. Moderate pace : TROT.
55. Dimwit : STUPE. This does not seem very PC.
56. Small opening : PORE. I got that by the skin of my teeth.
57. Exobiologist's org. : SETI. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Acronym.
58. Voice actor Castellaneta of "The Simpsons" : DAN. Also he was not the father on The Wonder Years
59. Foolishness : FATUITY. I know fatuous, but not this incarnation; a very much Nero Wolfe word.
62. Cotton __ : GIN. As a kid this always puzzled me because I thought it came from juniper berries, and we had juniper bushes.
63. Storied vessel : ARK. I hope you Noah this one.
65. "Middle of Nowhere" director DuVernay : AVA. Indie movie.
66. Ed.'s pile : MSS. Manuscripts.
67. First, second or third person? : BASEMAN. Baseball, but you need the perps to get that.
68. Pinch for Pépin : SEL. French for salt.
1. Domelike structures : CUPOLAS. There are many kinds, reminds me of Ken Follett
2. Be diplomatic : USE TACT. Nice fill.
3. 1920s tennis great René : LACOSTE. Lives on through all the shirts.
4. "__ tree falls ..." : IF A. in the forest....
5. Noritake headquarters city : NAGOYA. Luckily ODOR and YEN were easy, which helped the section to fall.
6. Moves smoothly : GLIDES. Getting excited about the ice skaters and the Olympics?
7. John of pop : ELTON. As C.C. would say, nailed it!
8. Hang-glide, say : SOAR. Oh oh.
9. Word of disdain : TUT. Usually needs two but the clue does say 'word.'
10. Impassive : STOLID.
11. Displays publicly : BLAZONS. I am familiar with things being emblazoned, but not this verb.
12. Opens one's eyes : COMES TO.
13. Butted heads : CLASHED. My research shows this fill has never been in the LAT or NYT before.
21. Direct : STEER. Fits in with our earlier STEEP and STUPE?
24. First Japanese prime minister born after WWII : ABE. No clue about Shinzō Abe, born in 1954. I read it as the first prime minister after WWII, never seeing the word bord; coincidentally, also a man named ABE.
27. "The Goldfish" painter : KLEE. This WORK. So you think you could have done that?
29. Print resolution letters : DPI. Dots Per Inch, from our old dot matrix printers.
30. Clerical wear : ALB. It is the long white (the word is from Latin for white) dress like garment.
32. Moon, e.g. : ORB.
35. "The Impaler" who inspired Dracula : VLAD.
36. "Who hath a story ready for your __": Shak. : EAR. An obscure quote from Measure for Measure, but easily sussed.
37. 2014 Olympics airer : NBC. So many initials.
38. Moves quickly : DARTS.
39. 1945 Big Three city : POTSDAM. One of the meeting places for the allies, US, England and Russia.
40. Online game icons : AVATARS. If you did not know it before the movie should have taught you.
41. Proves fallacious : DEBUNKS. I myth the mythbusters.
44. Xenon, for one : RARE GAS.
45. Soul-stirring : EMOTIVE. Did the clue move you?
46. __ scan: ID method : RETINAL. Eye had no problem with this one.
48. Knock : RAP. Don't knock rap?
49. Assembly-ready : PREFABricated.
50. Sister of Moses and Aaron : MIRIAM. You need to know MORE?
51. Big name in soul : ARETHA. Finally, a musical INTERLUDE. (2:29)
53. Two-door vehicle : COUPE.
56. School gps. : PTAS. At least the initials are all familiar.
60. __ Pacis: altar of Peace : ARA. This is just Latin for an altar built during the time of Caesar Augustus for the goddess Pacis. It is from her name we get our word.
61. Thither : YON. Hither and yon, hither and thither, it all sounds silly to me.