Not a tall, but A↠ TO↠ LL. Well, we continue adjusting, and I am comforted by the task of unraveling one of our dear leader's creations. I do not get to blog C.C. often, but this puzzle is a perfect example of why C.C. has become an Icon of modern crossword construction. While seeing the great reveal, ATOLL being reparsed as A TO LL was impressive; finding four meaningful phrases that would make sense when the ending "A" in the first word of the phrase was replaced with "LL" was awesome. The rest of the fill was chock full of sparkle - ARSENAL EDAMAME, SALT COD, SPUMONI, TROTSKY, VERTIGO, DESOLATE, GET ANTSY, IDRIS ELBA, and LET ME KNOW. And the cultural references for a non-US born person highlights how much C.C. has incorporated into her mental database. "Nuff said, enjoy.
18A. Spread served in concave pasta?: SHELL BUTTER (11). SHEA Butter has nothing to do with the Mets old ballpark.
32A. Laid-back cats and dogs?: CHILL PETS (9). CHIA pets are hanging in as an absurd gift.
44A. Revealing sweat remover at the poker table?: TELL TOWEL (9). TEA Towel may not be a phrase to which you are familiar; mine are all linen.
59A. What Royal Caribbean reps do?: SELL CRUISES (11). SEA cruises can be distinguished from river cruises.
And the reveal:
53D. Island ring ... or, in three parts, a hint to 18-, 32-, 44- and 59-Across: ATOLL.(5).
1. Cow, for one: SHE. The old simple misdirection. DUH!
4. Cancel, in a way: ABORT. The space race gave this old word new meaning.
9. Food fight noise: SPLAT.
14. "U R 2 funny!": LOL. Textspeak Laugh Out Loud (or Lagh ot lod?).
15. "On the Media" medium: RADIO. A podcast from our friends at NPR.
16. Michelangelo carved it from a single slab of marble: PIETA. I did not know this fact. I am in...
17. Circus reaction: AWE.
20. Statuette site: NICHE.
22. Sushi bar appetizer: EDAMAME.
23. Start to pace, say: GET ANTSY. This word has followed me recently.
26. Stood: ROSE.
27. Polite address: MA'AM.
28. "We'll Meet Again" host Curry: ANN.
29. Documentarian Burns: KEN. A very prolific and important documentary filmmaker. His body of WORK.
36. Ancient Aegean region: IONIA. You should brush up on this HISTORY.
38. Teased: RODE.
39. Word of welcome: ALOHA. Where did all of our Hawaiian cornerites go?
41. 1993 Literature Nobelist Morrison: TONI.
42. Law school subject: TORTS. One of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries was solved when Wolfe asked a suspect who was talking about his experience in law school if he had learned drafting torts.
46. Sliding runner: SKI.
47. Sounds of contentment: AHS.
49. Name associated with the Gateway Arch: EERO. We see this DESIGNER often thanks to the three vowels.
50. Only: SOLE. I think these two words may have a common bond.
52. Like ghost towns: DESOLATE.
56. Hitchcock classic set in San Francisco: VERTIGO. The inspiration for Mel Brooks' High Anxiety.
58. Colorful tank addition: TETRA. Sometimes called neon this is a small tropical freshwater fish that is typically brightly colored. Native to Africa and America, many tetras are popular in aquariums.
62. Move on a lake: OAR. ?
63. Forbidden: TABOO.
64. For fun, with "on": A LARK. Or an old cigarette brand.
65. "Hamilton" creator __-Manuel Miranda: LIN. He is very busy these days.
66. Spiral-horned creature: ELAND.
67. Sinatra standard: MY WAY. This VERSION.
68. Sgt.'s superiors: LTS.
1. Urban Dictionary focus: SLANG.
3. Give a seat to: ELECT.
4. Premier League powerhouse: ARSENAL. the FOOTBALL CLUB.
5. "Humph!": BAH.
6. Celebratory work: ODE.
7. One with an easy life: RILEY. A memory from my early years, this SITCOM was Mr. Bendix' starring role.
8. Spilled the beans: TOLD.
9. Layered ice cream: SPUMONI.
10. Deli pockets: PITAS.
11. "I'll be waiting to hear from you": LET ME KNOW. LMK, a favorite phrase.
12. Suit to __: A TEE.
13. Street cover: TAR.
19. Raised building?: BARN. A New England TRADITION.
21. Play with a ghost: HAMLET. Ah, play WITH, not play with.
24. Taberna tidbit: TAPA. Simple Spanish.
25. Refines, as ore: SMELTS.
28. "Pieces of Me" singer Simpson: ASHLEE. Jessica's sister.
30. Bonn article: EINE.
31. Polish target: NAIL.
32. Older PC screens: CRTS. Cathode Ray Tubes.
33. Errant golf shot, usually: HOOK.
34. "Luther" star: IDRIS ELBA. I know the actor, but not the SERIES.
35. Golf club part: TOE.
37. "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969) star: O'TOOLE. Peter.
40. Taproom array: ALES.
43. Dried fish used in brandade: SALT COD. Not familiar with this DISH or Portuguese cooking in general.
45. October Revolution leader: TROTSKY. Do you know this HISTORY?
48. Next in line: HEIR.
51. Wrinkle-resistant fabric: ORLON.
52. Lacy table mat: DOILY. Hmm, a small ornamental mat made of lace or paper with a lace pattern, typically placed on a plate under a cake or other sweet foods.
54. Black hair, e.g.: TRAIT.
55. Deserves: EARNS.
56. Saltimbocca meat: VEAL. This is Italian for jumps in the mouth, and you can make it at HOME.
57. Largest of the Mariana Islands: GUAM.
59. Sault __ Marie: STE.
60. Tool with teeth: SAW.
61. Cy Young Award stat: ERA. The award for best major league pitcher.
Wow, that was fun. I am bit worn out from all the links I followed, inspired by this puzzle. Thank you Zhouqin and all of you who read, write and make the Corner strong with words and love. Lemonade out.