Theme: "Homophonic Letter Strings"
18. *Make it not hurt so much : EASE THE PAIN. "E E E E"
23. *Marching order : EYES FRONT. "I I I I"
36. *Has unfinished business with the IRS : OWES BACK TAXES. "O O O O"
51. *Entice with : USE AS BAIT. "U U U"
58. *Sagacious : WISE AS AN OWL. "Y Y Y Y"
53. MLB team, familiarly (and what's missing from the sequence found in the answers to starred clues?) : THE As.
I can't think of any common phrase that begins with Aze (with the "long A" sound), can you? So the unifier is the perfect cop-out, IMHO. Lots of fun clues with plenty of misdirection that kept the V8 can busy. Let me show you what I mean...
1. Moll's leg : GAM. Well, OK. This one was easy, but just wait...
4. Word after fire or power : DRILL.
9. Like some wedding dresses : LACY. Sexy was my go-to choice here.
13. Biblical priest who trained Samuel : ELI.
14. Zellweger et al. : RENEES.
16. Together, in music : A DUE.
17. Architect's add-on : ELL.
20. Tre times due : SEI. Italian "three times two." Bill G., can you help me with the answer here? (^0^)
21. Bark relative : YIP. Oh man, I was thinking tree bark.
22. IHOP array : SYRUPS. I wanted "stacks."
26. Type of cranial nerve : OPTIC.
28. Role for John Cho in "Star Trek" : SULU.
29. Jets and others : TEAMS. Because NFLers wouldn't fit...
31. __ nutshell : IN A.
32. Mex. neighbor : USA.
34. Motor extension? : OLA.
35. At any time : EVER.
40. Spot on the tube : TV AD.
41. Good buddy : BRO.
42. Play about Capote : TRU.man.
43. Ran across : MET.
44. Film critic Jeffrey : LYONS. Did not know him. All perps. He agrees with the Tomatometer 0% of the time on "Rotten Tomatoes"?
46. Long haul : TREK.
49. __ de Chine: light fabric : CREPE. This wedding dress doesn't look LACY or sexy!
54. Eggheads : BRAINS.
56. Govt. surveillance group : NSA. National Security Agency.
57. PTA meeting site : SCH.ool. Abbr. in the clue gave me the hint.
60. __ out: barely make : EKE.
61. Aleutian island : ATKA. Population 61 ! Map.
62. Faunae counterparts : FLORAE.
63. Grassy area : LEA.
64. Harness part : REIN.
65. Yeats' "The Wild __ at Coole" : SWANS. I did not know this poem, but it was a WAG…I didn't think Yeats would wax poetic over "geese" or "ducks."
66. Many AARP The Magazine readers: Abbr. : SRS. Seniors.
1. Silly sorts : GEESE. Ahh…here's our geese!
2. Strike zones? : ALLEYS. Boomer! (Bowling alleys.)
3. Social setting : MILIEU.
4. Mr. Holland portrayer : DREYFUSS. I thought Richard Dreyfuss was brilliant in "Mr. Holland's Opus."
5. Put on again : REAIR. I had "Re-don." D'oh!! TV, not clothes...
6. Hip joint : IN SPOT. Hip, meaning "cool" or "trendy." Great misdirection! I really wanted "pelvis" but it just wasn't working...
7. Author Harper : LEE. "To Kill a Mockingbird."
8. Conversation opener : LET'S TALK. "Come here often?" wouldn't fit.
9. Drink à la Fido : LAP UP. Anyone else for "slurp"? Show of hands?
10. Capable of change : ADAPTIVE.
11. Cookbook categories : CUISINES.
12. Nikkei Index currency : YEN.
15. Lacking the required funds : SHY. Tricky little clue for a three-letter answer.
19. Winged god : EROS.
24. Turned around : SLUED.
25. Opponents of the '60s-'70s New Left : NEOCONS. Neoconservatives. I won't get into politics...
27. Golf, for one : CAR. Another really tricky clue for a three-letter answer. VW model.
30. Simpsons creator Groening : MATT.
33. "Eight Is Enough" wife : ABBY.
35. Bedroom community : EXURB.
36. Orthodontic concern : OVERBITE.
37. Ride the wake, say : WATER SKI. Ya mean, they do it on water, too???
38. Awakenings : AROUSALS.
39. Some auction transactions : ART SALES.
40. "Movies for movie lovers" network : TMC. The Movie Channel. I always get TMC and TCM mixed up, and I watch them both.
44. "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?" speaker : LEIA. She was talking to Luke, and I think she probably regretted those words… 0:28
45. Isabel Allende title : SENORA.
47. Stands for things : EASELS. See? See? I told you there was tons of misdirection in the puzzle.
48. Any of the top 25 NFL career scoring leaders : KICKER.
50. Song of praise : PAEAN. Trivia fact: When the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea in 1968, they forced Captain Bucher to write a confession. He penned, "We paean DPRK, we paean their great leader Kim Il Sung." What the North Koreans didn't know, was that he was using "Paean" as a homophone of "pee on," instead of singing their praises!
52. Egyptian dam : ASWAN.
55. Bad check letters : NSF.
58. Card game for two, usually : WAR.
59. "What are you waiting for?!" : NOW! I am done…
Til next week!