Theme: T Party; the letter "T" is inserted into the the first word of a common two-word phrase to create a new and humorous phrase. Each of the first words begin with "S." There is no unifier and no other relationship among the theme answers, but some of the images are creative and amusing.
17A. "Oklahoma!" prop?: STAGE BRUSH. Oklahoma is one of the earliest and most successful American musicals, and I guess there may be a BRUSH used on stage at some point; and SAGEBRUSH (also sage brush) is a shrub which grows freely in the Western US, including Oklahoma, and Canada, but should not be confused with tumbleweed.
21A. Time off spent with Rover?: STICK DAY. A SICK DAY is a day off, and playing STICK (also known as Fetch) with your dog can pass the time.
34A. Undercover operations where agents can bring guests?: STING ALONGS. We all known SING ALONGS, but if you turn them into a trap for someone where you invite a guest...Did anyone else think of Mitch Miller?
42A. Dance for louses?: STINKER BALL. A SINKER BALL is a type of pitch used in baseball to induce a ground ball, and a BALL for STINKERS sounds pretty silly.
52A. Taser switch?: STUN DIAL. My favorite of the theme, SUN DIAL becomes the control to a taser. Don't tase me bro!
61A. Fancy shoes for the campaign trail?: STUMP PUMPS. A SUMP PUMP is a common electric pump used to drain basements or other low lying areas. I think it comes from the German SUMPF, which means swamp. The picture of a politician in nice pumps is an appealing image.
Happy Friday, all. Lemonade here and lets go on with the rest of the story, a fun puzzle from our erudite classical constructor, who intertwines Latin and wit, to test ours.
1. In development, as software: BETA. BETA testing comes after ALPHA testing; seriously, the testing of SOFTWARE is very important in our computer driven world.
5. Ancient meeting place: AGORA. The Greek open assembly areas which became the marketplace, and it is the root word for AGORAPHOBIA, the fear of leaving your home.
10. Bloke: CHAP. The first four letters of last name are CHAP, so in the puzzle I work on and never finish, 1 across is always CHAP, with the last 4 letters the answer to 65 across.
14. School since 1440: ETON. I seem to get this school almost every week; Harrowing.
15. Really enjoy: LAP UP. Which is what Rover does with the attention he gets on Stick Day.
16. Symbolic ring: HALO. This comes from the Latin word for the ring that appears around the sun, which became symbolic of the aura of majesty or glory surrounding a person or thing that is regarded with reverence. Or a very popular video game. Which leads perfectly to 19. Heavenly bodies: ORBS, which is also is from the Latin used to describe the sun and other celestial bodies.
20. Subject of a 2009 national tournament cheating scandal: SUDOKU. I missed this SCANDAL but it dates back to a cheater at a chess tournament.
23. Star car: LIMO. Is anyone else watching the new Showtime series Episodes? I think it is really cute.
25. Downsizing event?: DIET. I am getting used to Mr. Sessa's cluing; he uses many visual misdirections like this where he makes you think about work cuts, and 28A. Fingers: IDS, where you need to relate to the word as verb not a noun. .
26. Extend across: SPAN. Reminds me of the old ABC Wild World of Sports, "Spanning the Globe..."
31. Fumble (for): GROPE. Two images, young man encountering a bra, and old man looking for his glasses in the night. The cycle of life.
37. Tampa NFLer: BUC. A mini-shout out for our left-coast Floridians.
38. Jobs, idiomatically: HATS. This one was tricky, as the phrase "Wearing Many Hats" has gone the way of people actually wearing hats. IMAGE .
39. Tesla, by birth: CROAT. Our friend is back; he was born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan (now part of Gospić), of the Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia). Tesla was a subject of the Austrian Empire by birth, so this answer while correct is also misleading.
40. Sol lead-in: AERO. Spray cans, and bad for the ozone layer.
41. Creative output: ART.
44. "Beau __": Gary Cooper film: GESTE. The phrase "beau geste" is from the French, meaning "a gracious (or fine) gesture, and the protagonist's name is a foreshadowing of his fate. This movie has been remade many times, first with Ronald Colman, then Gary cooper, with the last one a parody by Mel Brooks starring the incomparable Marty Feldman, who played IGOR in Young Frankenstein, which segues to 63. "Young Frankenstein" lab assistant: INGA, who was played by TERRI GARR who should not be confused with
6D. Needle-nosed fish: GAR.
46. Head of government?: GEE. Another, sleight of hand, Government begins with the letter "G."
47. Body shop figs.: ESTS. Estimates, and abbr like figs.
48. Close connection: BOND. Not to be confused with James Bond.
50. Water carrier: DUCT. Another Latin concept, DUCTS are the anatomical descriptions of the channels of the body through which much passes, like tear ducts, lactiferous ducts with the Roman creation of the AQUEDUCT to transport water to allow the irrigation of dry lands, one their greatest achievements.
56. Mickey's "The Wrestler" co-star: MARISA. This was a wonderful MOVIE in which the 40+ Ms. Tomei plays a stripper.
60. "Young" reformer: TURK. There was an actual early 20th century reformer in the Ottoman Empire known as Young Turk.
64. Small thicket: COPSE. If you threw some crackers in the bushes, would you say "Cheese It, the Copse!"
65. Lollipop, for one: SHIP. Some images are FOREVER .
66. Cheers: RAHS. Very literal.
67. Exhaust: SPEND. Not the first word that came to mind, but when you have exhausted your resources, they are spent.
68. A long, long time: EONS. Crosswordese, with or without the A.
Okay, relax , we are getting down now.
1. "Summertime" singer: BESS. From the Gershwin opera PORGY & BESS .
2. Caeserian rebuke: ET TU. Brute. I love the miniseries Rome on HBO.
3. Warty hopper: TOAD.
4. Luanda natives: ANGOLANS. Luanda is the capital city of Angola, and has been since the Portuguese settled the area in the 1500's, and was the center of the slave trade to Brazil, the largest Portuguese colony.
5. Rock collection?: ALBUM. Fooled me again, as I collected rocks as child, polished them and made jewelry.
7. Numbered piece: OPUS. Well, last Friday I linked to the cartoon, so I am not sure why this word is here again, but it is.
8. Sign of age: RUST. Interesting visual, though why people are said to be rusty, which comes from oxidation not age, I do not know.
9. Garden pest: APHID. If I had a nickel for every aphid I plucked from my father's flowers as a child, I would be a nickelonaire.
10. Round jewelry item: CHOKER. How about a nice Heart NECKLACE for V-Day.
11. Not easily topped: HARD TO BEAT.
12. Jessica of "Sin City": ALBA. We seem to have a mini-theme of STRIPPERS ; no nudity, I promise.
13. Bridal accessory: POSY. A different word for bouquet.
18. Scratching (out): EKING. We cannot go two days without some version of this crossword staple, I am ready to scream EEEEEKKKK.
22. Butts: CIGS. With smoking on the decline this will become a difficult clue one day.
24. Deepwater Horizon, for one: OIL RIG. This was the name of the ill fated rig which was the BP Oil spill. It was built in in South Korea by Hyundai.
26. Disconcerting look: STARE. Well sometimes, stares are nice.
27. Penguins' home: PITTSBURGH. The hockey team lead now by Sidney Crosby.
29. Blackmore heiress: DOONE. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor was an early historical romance.
30. Took a sinuous path: SNAKED. And, 59D. Slithery threats: ASPS.
32. Knitting stitches: PURLS. When I was little I heard a joke where the punch line was Knit 1, Purl 2 and there was an old song, but no one ever explained either, but I think it has to do with reversing the knitting action.
33. Sci. concerned with biodiversity: ECOL. Ecology,
34. Thick carpet: SHAG. Does anyone have any left in their homes? I wonder if this pair was an homage to Austin Powers who loved to SHAG , and to tell people to 35D. Behave: ACT.
36. Co. that merged into Verizon: GTE. General Telephone and Electric, one of the baby bells.
40. Clear as mud: ABSTRUSE. Oh what a wonderful word, also from Latin.
42. Texting button: SEND.
43. Newscast segment: RECAP.
45. Mighty Dump Trucks, e.g.: TONKAS. Hasbro's biggest seller still, trucks and trains.
49. Saucers and such: DISCS. Yes, especially the flying kind of UFOs.
51. Made lots of calls, in a way: UMPED. Tricky, an umpire calls balls and strikes, safe or out; I told you Ed uses visual deception.
52. Mix: STIR.
53. Hip Charlie, in ads: TUNA. Who does not love a wise guy talking FISH .
54. At the peak of: ATOP. On top of old smokie...
55. "Kick, Push" rapper __ Fiasco: LUPE. No clue, don't listen if you are offended by these LYRICS .
57. "As I see it," online: IMHO. In My Humble Opinion, really why humble? Not likely.
58. Go a few rounds?: SPIN. The wheels on the bus go round and round...
62. Co. with a butterfly logo: MSN. Microsoft Network; they want to take over the world.
Note from C.C.:
The overall length of recent posts is getting too long. I'd like to limit each post to about 20 lines on blog Comments section. Try to shorten your posts, sweet & succinct. Thanks.