Theme: STNIOJ SDRAWKCAB
17A. Extra effort : WOBLE [ELBOW] GREASE.
21A. "That's rich!" evoker : EENK [KNEE] SLAPPER.
40A. Take on responsibility : REDLUOHS [SHOULDER] THE LOAD.
57A. It usually involves rapping : PIH [HIP] HOP MUSIC.
And the unifier:
64A. Filing option, or what can be found in four long answers? : JOINT RETURN. The first word of each phrase is a synonym for a body part (specifically: joint) that "returns," or goes backward. Nice theme, and appropriate as tax deadline day draws near!
Just missing a Z for a pangram. Thankfully, most of the fill was fairly easy, but I still had a huge blank swath going down the west side of this puzzle for the longest time. Every time I checked the down answers, it gave me jibberish for the beginnings of the theme entries. I bet I'm not the only one who did that.
Marti here, filling in for our fearless Friday fellow. Thanks for pinch-hitting for me yesterday, Lemony!
1. Least ancient : LATEST.
7. Some TVs : RCAS.
11. This second, briefly : PDQ. Pretty Da*n Quick.
14. Forward, to Fiorello : AVANTI. Italian. I am going to Italy this summer, and have been brushing up on my rusty Italian, so this was a gimme.
15. City SW of Buffalo : ERIE.
16. Christian sch. since 1963 : ORU. Oral Roberts University. And 61-Down. Kind of exam : ORAL.
19. Shoofly ___ : PIE. Really sweet southern dish made with molasses, and topped with a sugary crumble.
20. Skittish NBC show? : SNL. Saturday Night Live. Full of "skits."
23. Jellied item in British cuisine : EEL. I have linked this dish before. It's not a pretty sight.
25. "Days of Grace" memoirist : ASHE. Arthur finished it just a week before he died.
26. Relaxed : EASY.
27. GRE components : ESSAYS.
30. Doubter's question : IS IT?
32. Note promising notes : CHIT. Hands up for those who wanted IOUs? I read it first as "note-promising" notes, instead of "A" note that promises notes (money.)
33. Letter-routing letters : ATTN.
36. Big-eared flier of film : DUMBO.
43. Finish : USE UP.
44. It may be spare : ROOM.
45. "Progress through Technology" automaker : AUDI.
46. "Awesome!" : NICE. and 50-Across. Awesome, in a way : EPIC.
48. Original Speed Stick maker : MENNEN.
53. Used to be : WERE.
56. Giant of note : OTT (Mel)
60. Rock's ___ Fighters : FOO. THESE ARE MY FAMOUS LAST WOOORRRDS... 4:52
63. Maker of SteeL kitchen products : OXO. I have a lot of the Good Grips items, but didn't realize they also have other lines, including SteeL.
66. Beret, e.g. : CAP.
67. ___ Accords: 1993 agreement : OSLO.
68. Having trouble : IN A JAM.
69. Charles V's domain: Abbr. : HRE. Holy Roman Empire.
70. Light submachine gun : STEN.
71. Forgetful, maybe : SENILE. "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most..."
1. Murphy's and Godwin's, for two : LAWS. Murphy: "Whatever can go wrong, will." Godwin: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."
2. Shakespeare's flower? : AVON. Here's where I started suspecting something goofy at 17-Across. Of course we have seen "flow-er" referring to rivers many times, and I was sure this had to be AVON. But what the heck is WO*** GREASE??
3. Carving area : TABLESIDE. I am a sucker for Bananas Foster prepared TABLESIDE.
4. It's bigger than the neg. : ENL.argement.
5. Unwavering : STEELY.
6. Buster Brown's dog : TIGE.
7. Causes a stink : REEKS.
8. Collide with : CRASH INTO.
9. Where the slain roll? : AISLES. Hahahahahahahaaaaa...you slay me, Julian!
10. "I ___ beautiful city...": Dickens : SEE A. You may be more familiar with the ending of this quote: "It is a far, far better thing that I do..."
11. Dad : POPPA.
12. Preserves, in a way : DRIES. Think "dried fruit."
13. Editor's request : QUERY. Rich only accepts theme queries for Sunday puzzles. For the rest of the the week, he requires a completed grid with clues.
18. Genetic letters : RNA. I really wanted to enter this, but EEN* SLAPPER just didn't seem plausible for 21-Across.
22. Prone to snits : PETULANT. I was getting into a snit by this time...
24. Grab a sandwich, perhaps : EAT LUNCH. This one beat me up and stole my lunch money, so I had nothing left to buy a sandwich with.
27. 65-Down shade : ECRU. And 65-Down. Darken in a salon : TAN.
28. Women : SHES. meh.
29. ___ Miguel: Azores island : SAO. In the North Atlantic. Map.
31. Suffix with ox- : IDE.
34. Like many a brisk 45-minute walk : THREE MILE. I usually do two miles on the treadmill in 1/2 hour. So this is just about right.
35. General on a menu : TSO. Hello, ol' friend!
37. View from Tokyo : MOUNT FUJI. Nice view, with a hat made of lenticular clouds..
38. Wished : BADE. Past tense of "bid."
39. Valhalla chief : ODIN.
41. Reuters competitor : UPI. United Press International.
42. "I wonder..." : HMM.
47. Breakfast cereal magnate : C.W. POST.
49. With 50-Down, when modern mammals emerged : EOCENE. And 50-Down. See 49-Down : EPOCH.
51. "Brave" studio : PIXAR. I vaguely remembered seeing commercials for this movie, so knew it was an animated film.
52. "Fingers crossed" : I HOPE. By this time, I was hoping I would be able to finish the puzzle!
54. Bad sentence : RUN ON. Because "life" is too short.
55. Round no. : EST.imate.
58. Parts of la cara : OJOS. La cara = "face" in Spanish. Ojos = "eyes." Al Martino got it right.
59. 1978 Booker Prize recipient Murdoch : IRIS. Dame Iris Murdoch, for her book "The Sea, the Sea."
62. "I got it" : ON ME. (Sorry, not today. Someone stole my lunch money...)
See you next week in my usual Thursday seat!