After more than 7 years of blogging puzzles, I do not often need the reveal to understand the theme. Mark got me, even though I knew the likely theme fill made no sense, I did not get what they had in common until the reveal. Telling us to break 58A into three words gave me DRAW TO WARD, and after a slow brain moment the light bulb went on - DRAW backwards is WARD. GAB becomes BAG and the rest fell into place. To maintain consistency, Mark has the second word reverse in the first two themers and and the first word reverses in the next two. The grid with many three and four letter fill makes this a fair test for Friday even before you deduce the reversal. Also it features many witty clue/fill combinations. Ringing organ? : EAR; Taking something badly? : THEFT - come to mind. That did not leave much room for other sparkle, but Mark did include SAPPORO, SATISFY, DYSTOPIAN and RAISE CAIN.
18A. Chat at the supermarket checkout? : GROCERY GAB (10). Grocery Bag jumped out at me as soon as I had the reveal.
24A. Marsh bird with uncontrollable urges? : COMPULSIVE RAIL (14). Compulsive is a word most often seen with Liar and Gambler.
38A. Way into Wayne Manor? : BAT KEYS (7). Tab Keys are very important when typing. The shortest fill, BAT to TAB.
51A. Work of a major opera house villain? : EVIL FROM THE MET (14). I watched this SHOW when it aired Live starting in 1977 trying to appreciate opera.
58A. Attract ... or, as three words, sequence change with a hint about 18-, 24-, 38- and 51-Across : DRAW TOWARD (10). If you suss this as DRAW to WARD, you see that this is a word reversal puzzle.
1. Alan of "Tower Heist" : ALDA. It is amazing how well he has played smarmy bad people in this and other projects. A Stiller connection.
5. Partridge family tree? : PEAR. Not sure which family this refers to, the TV series or the Christmas chant.
9. Eliot's Bede : ADAM. This was the first novel published by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). Silas Marner and Middlemarch were her best.
13. He shared the AP Driver of the Century award with Andretti : FOYT. A. J. was a major STAR. when I was growing up.
14. Consumed : EATEN.
16. Con __: tempo marking : MOTO. The word has the same stem as motion but what does it mean in MUSIC?
17. Museum figure : BUST. Tempting...
20. Bigelow offering : TEA.
22. "Utopia" author : MORE. Is this the first fantasy novel? Was his Utopia appealing? What about 3 Down?
23. Request on "ER" : MRI.
28. Oldest Japanese beer brand : SAPPORO.
29. Discounted by : LESS.
30. Cut out : OMIT.
31. Trivial amount : SOU. Although the French sou as a coin disappeared more than two centuries ago, it is still used to mean of little value. (various).
33. __ science : EARTH. Needed perps.
37. Paella veggie : PEA. Not a dish I cook, but here is a RECIPE.
41. "Eureka!" : AHA. Another made up word, but I guess they all are.
42. Legendary first name in skating : SONJA. The second name was HENIE. A reminder to some of us of Clear Ayes. 48D. 42-Across' homeland : NORWAY.
44. Northwest Passage explorer : RAE. A true PIONEER.
45. Cinco times dos : DIEZ. Purists would prefer "cinco veces dos."
46. Noodle bar order : UDON.
49. Fulfill : SATISFY.
55. Animal house : DEN.
56. Pertaining to : IN RE.
57. SHO-owned cinematic channel : TMC. The Movie Channel, not TCM or AMC.
62. Not at all tough : EASY.
65. Skye, for one : ISLE.
66. Card worth a fortune? : TAROT.
67. Stir up : RILE.
68. Slender swimmers : EELS.
69. Sweet tubers : YAMS. Can you pass the QUIZ?
70. Winter coat : SNOW. Another nice one.
1. Laughlin in Tex., e.g. : AFB. Air Force Base.
2. He often batted after Babe : LOU. Gehrig.
3. Like "The Hunger Games" society : DYSTOPIAN. Should this be included when you have 22A?
4. Tackle : ATTEMPT.
5. Wood fastener : PEG.
6. Ringing organ? : EAR. I like this clue, not the phenomenon.
7. Physics class topic : ATOMS.
8. Cringe : RECOIL.
9. Youngest of the "Little Women" : AMY. Meg. Margaret is the oldest of the March sisters, Jo. Josephine is the second oldest March sister, Beth. Elizabeth is the third eldest sister, Amy. The youngest, Amy is the pet of the family.
10. Article of faith : DOGMA. I liked the movie.
11. Arcade giant : ATARI.
12. Exxon follower? : MOBIL.
15. Guts : NERVE.
19. Giant in little candy : REESES. Pieces. Phone home.
21. GI's address : APO.
24. Typical Hitchcock role : CAMEO. Stan Lee has taken over as king of the Cameos.
25. Celestial bear : URSA.
26. Take from a job : LOOT. Oh, that kind of job.
27. Johannesburg's land: Abbr. : RSA. Republic of South Africa, home to constructor and blogger Gareth Bain.
28. Finishes (up) the gravy : SOPS.
32. Former SSR : UKRaine.
34. Go ballistic : RAISE CAIN. A THEORY.
35. Taking something badly? : THEFT. Not new but still witty.
36. Unclear : HAZY.
38. Mismatch : BAD FIT.
39. __ Coast : EAST. WEST?
40. Repeated word in the Beatles' "She Loves You" : YEAH. yeah, yeah.
43. National Ice Cream mo. : JULy. Y abbreviate?
45. Aids for romantic evenings : DIMMERS.
47. Hedger's last words : OR NOT. This fill is absolutely correct, or not.
50. Vietnamese holiday : TET.
51. __ Bauer : EDDIE. The STORY.
52. Part of a song : VERSE.
53. Collectively : IN ALL.
54. Anne of comedy : MEARA. Wife of Jerry, mother of Ben; sadly she died in 2015.
59. Director Craven : WES. Unlike Hitchcock and Stan Lee, Craven (who also died in 2015) often played himself in movies.
60. Danube Delta country: Abbr. : ROMania.
61. Drying-out hurdle : DTS. Delirium Tremens. I had a math teacher, first period, my junior year in high school who brought his coffee to class in a cup and saucer and the sound of his shaking was unnerving before 8 AM.
63. __-mo replay : SLO.
64. Taxus shrub : YEW. They look like junipers but the yew berry has a poisonous seed instead of the base for gin.
I am always curious when we have a theme like this one, as some of our crowd wants only clues and fill and no theme, while others love creativity. Thank you Mark; hope all are well. Lemonade out.
Note from C.C.:
Lemonade is safe and sound. His power was finally back last night. He also has a new grandson, who was born on Wednesday Sept 13, 2017. So sweet! You can click here to see more pictures of his beautiful grandkids.