Theme: YOUR SPYING EYES. The first part of each theme answer [identified with an *] is a word from the title of a recent movie based on a classic spy novel from 1974. These four words, in order, each representing a line of work, complete the title: TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY. In the story, the British secret agent called out of retirement for this adventure is George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman in the movie. Spying is a dangerous business, but it's his *.
18. A *"Peter Pan" pixie : TINKERBELL. Of course, the tiny winged lady from Neverland. Once upon a time, a TINKER plied the now obsolete trade of mending household utensils. This lost itinerant profession dates back to at least the 13th century. Hence the verb "tinker" meaning to fiddle around with something. This is the only clue in which the root word has a different meaning in the answer and the title, in case you give a tinker's dam.
24. A *Not mass-produced : TAILORMADE. What does a TAILOR make? Clothing. But the phrase is loosely applied to anything not off-the-shelf.
52. A *1962 Shirelles hit : SOLDIER BOY. A soldier is a trained professional killer, prepared to go to war, any time, anywhere. Here is the song - twelve years older than the novel. It sounds pretty awful now.
61. A *Hand-held telescopes : SPYGLASSES. These aren't used exclusively by spies, and are unlikely to give you x-ray vision, but do allow you to espy something at a distance. So maybe the root word is a little different in answer and title. Hmmm.
And the centrally-placed unifier -
39. A Author of the 1974 novel found in the starts of the starred answers : LECARRE. British novelist David John Moore Cornwell uses the pen name John le Carré. I don't know why.
Hi gang, JazzBumpa here. I've never been good at espionage, but I do enjoy a good story. Let's see where this one takes us.
1. It's found in bars : SOAP. Clever, and not the kind of bar I was imagining. But I'm indulging myself with a little Ole George Rye whiskey from right here in MI.
5. Bear in a kid's tale : PAPA. Along with mama, baby, orts, broken furniture, and some annoying little girl.
9. Savory gelatin : ASPIC. Tasty!
14. Troubadour's instrument : LUTE. Also capable of some serious music. Here is my favorite example.
15. Chapters in time : ERAS. The LUTE'S ERA was the 16th century.
16. In sorrier shape : WORSE.
17. French political unit : ETAT. A state. I was expecting a party or movement.
20. Charles Schwab competitor : E-TRADE. It's a fool's game.
22. Like morning grass : DEWY. But not if the overnight low is above the dew point. We are having a drought.
23. Belfry dweller : BAT.
26. Rips off : CONS. Purveys a fool's game.
27. "Leave me alone!" : SHOO. Away, thou perveyor!
28. Sturdy : SOLID.
30. Bookie's venue, briefly : O T B. Off Track Betting. An even bigger fool's game.
33. Den seating : SOFA. I'm sitting on one now, with my lap top on top of my lap.
36. Indian megalopolis : DELHI. Probably not the best place to go for salami.
38. California's Marina __ Rey : DEL. Wikipedia tells me this is a seaside unincorporated area in Los Angeles County, with a population of almost 9000.
41. Lengthy time : EON.
42. Treats with disdain : SNUBS.
44. Web page button : HOME. There's no place like web page button.
45. They often involve three infielders: Abbr. : DP'S. Baseball! A Double Play results when a ball in play leads to two outs, usually involving the batter and a runner already on base. We won't talk about tonight's Tigers game.
46. "I __ hug!" : NEED A. Not quite a cure all, but it helps. Especially after a 13-0 loss.
48. Island off Tuscany : ELBA. Able was I when I sussed this fill.
51. Take digs at : GIBE.
58. Drunk-skunk link : AS A. A hazard of over-indulging in Ole George, perhaps.
59. Evening in Roma : SERA. I did not know this. So - does Que sera sera mean "What happens in the evening stays in the evening"
60. From A to Z : ENTIRE. A little roll reversal with "A to Z" in the clue instead of the fill.
64. Brainchild : IDEA.
65. Most writing : PROSE. Or, in my case, illegible.
66. Capital on a fjord : OSLO.
67. Religious faction : SECT.
68. Logical : SOUND. That's reasonable.
69. Lunch time, often : NOON.
70. Clucks of disapproval : TSKS. Comic book style.
1. Wintry fall : SLEET. Sounds like calendar confusion, but it's frozen rain fall.
2. "__ my way!" : OUTTA. No easy way to indicate this irregular slangy variant. Required some perp help.
3. Arcade pioneer : ATARI. And X-word stalwart.
4. Potpourri pieces : PETALS. Flower detritus.
5. Ballplayer with the autobiography "My Prison Without Bars" : PETE ROSE. Great player with a bit of a problem.
6. Onassis, familiarly : ARI. Aristotle to you and me.
7. "Giant" bear : PANDA. Big and cute. Actually not a bear. But watch out, 'cuz he eats, shoots and leaves.
8. Did something appealing? : ASKED. Now this is a bit twee. A request is an appeal. Do you find it appealing?
9. Off the mark : AWRY. "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." Would it be wry or AWRY of me to again refer to rye?
10. Weep and wail : SOB. Listen to that S O B whine!
11. Like packaged kielbasa : PRE-BOILED. This seems like something made up, since PARBOILED was AWRY. We have BOILED lots of kielbasa in our kitchen over the years.
12. Explore all of Hawaii, say : ISLAND HOP. Make a stop on each island. Strangely, I googled "Hawaiian Island Hopping"and found this. Go figure. I think her name is Sandy.
13. Old Irish : CELTS. The ancient Greeks called them the Keltoi, but this was probably before they wandered over to Ireland. Keltic peoples inhabited a great swatch of Europe in the late centuries B.C.
19. Flock mothers : EWES. You should feel sheepish if you didn't suss this one.
21. Slap-on-the-head cry : DOH! I believe this originated with Homer Simpson.
25. Freeloader : MOOCH. One who wants something for nothing, or borrows with no intention of paying back. You know the type.
26. Indians, scoreboard-style : CLE. The Cleveland-based American League team. Yep - more baseball.
29. Keats verse : ODE. To a Nightingale, To Autumn, On a Grecian Urn - take your pick, and Cf. 57D.
30. Pigs out (on), briefly : OD'S. Over-Doses. Trivializing something seriously dangerous.
31. One involved with rackets : TENNIS PRO. True in a strictly literal sense. I wanted bankers and brokers.
32. "Where the folks are fine / And the world is mine," in a Linda Ronstadt hit : BLUE BAYOU. It's OK by me if it's OK by you.
34. Toy store __ Schwarz : F.A.O. Or did they go out of business?
35. Piece-keeping? : ARMED. Clever. A weapon is called a "piece." Keep one and your armed. And arms were sometimes called peace-keepers. Pretty convoluted.
37. Personal connections : INS. I've always been an outsider.
39. '60s hallucinogen : LSD. LySergic Acid Diethylamide. Dangerous stuff.
40. Has confidence in : RELIES ON.
43. Spelling contest : BEE.
47. Far from land : ASEA. A dreaded A-word, here used in its literal sense.
49. London's Big __ : BEN. It's a really big clock. Does anybody really know what time it is?
50. Gallery exhibitor : ARTIST.
51. Short breaths : GASPS.
53. Hollywood's Welles : ORSON. He brought us The War of the Worlds.
54. Wrangler's gear : LASSO. Aka lariat, AKA riata Anyway - it's a rope.
55. Waits : BIDES. Just bidin' my time.
56. Electrolux rival : ORECK. Our old Hoover is a wreck.
57. Nobel-winning Irish poet : YEATS. Just one letter away from Keats, but I don't think he wrote many odes.
59. Winter coaster : SLED
62. "Deal or No Deal" channel : GSN. Game Show Network. I had to look this up, and now will studiously avoid it.
63. "Xanadu" rock gp. : ELO Electric Light Orchestra. Well, I guess we have time to espy one more link. [No, not kielbasa.]
OK, gang - we're back from our mission, safe and SOUND. But I'd still be on the lookout for moles.
Cross-posted at The Corner