Theme: TWO CUBED. Or is that a CRAZY idea? Three theme answers contain anagrams of the word EIGHT, straddling two words of the answer. In crossword jargon, such mixing up of letters can be clued as CRAZY, so, CRAZY or not, this is a good, solid theme.
17 A. Michael Jackson memorabilia : WHITE GLOVES. Everyone needs a trademark.
28 A. Line-drawing tool : STRAIGHT EDGE. Here is a three-sided one. Also doubles as a ruler.
45. Conversational skill : THE GIFT OF GAB. The ability to talk at any length on any topic with no preparation. My grandson Ryan has this gift - he can make friends in the line at the grocery store. The other theme answers have two words, this one has four = two squared.
And the unifier. 61A. Uno ancestor, and, in a way, what are hidden in 17-, 28- and 45-Across : CRAZY EIGHTS. Uno is game played with a special, and quite colorful deck. I must have played CRAZY EIGHTS as a kid, but don't remember anything about it.
Hi gang, JazzBumpa here to guide you on this colorful flight through some great and possibly crazy eights.
1. Singer Bryant : ANITA. Famous for orange juice commercials, among other things
6. Tooted in a Revolutionary band : FIFED.
11. Jacques, e.g. : NOM. "Name" in French - a French answer for a French name.
14. Common java hr. : TEN A. M. Coffee break time. N.B. abrv in cl & ans.
15. "__ of Two Cities" : A TALE. Charles Dickens novel set in London and Paris around the time of the French revolution.
16. Be in the red : OWE. Slang. To be in the black is to have a positive cash balance. This comes from the old accounting practice of noting debts in red ink.
19. Coal container : BIN. Historically also used for dust.
20. Met display : ART. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
21. Met supporter: Abbr. : NEA. National Endowment for the Arts. Semi-clecho.
22. Completely drained : EMPTIED. Exhausted didn't fit.
24. Cold War concerns : RUSSIANS. Well, this probably would depend on who you were asking.
27. Web address ending : ORG. It stands for organization, as opposed to COM, which is intended for commerce. These ideas were the original intent in 1985, but now both domain types are unrestricted.
33. Fruity : BATTY. Crazy, like an eight. By why go half way, when you can have fruit bats?
36. Aristotelian pair? : TAUS. Tau is the "T" equivalent in the Ancient Greek alphabet. Aristotle was an ancient Greek. My philosophy does not favor self-referential clues, but I will be stoic about it.
37. Cauliflower __: boxing injury : EAR. A condition caused by trauma to the external portion of the ear that separates cartilage from the adjoining tissue, so that it degenerates and fibrous tissue forms in the skin. Per Wikipedia, "The condition is most common among boxers, wrestlers, mixed martial artists, and forwards in rugby union."
38. "Exodus" author : URIS. Leon.
39. Heavy curtain : DRAPE.
41. Head of a family? : CAPO. Mafia slang.
42. Channel for film buffs : TCM. Turner Classic Movies, where you might find a flick about a CAPO.
43. Jalapeño rating characteristic : HEAT. Hot peppers.
44. Nemo creator Verne : JULES. This clue is about fictional submarine Captain Nemo, aka Prince Dakkar in the novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870,) and The Mysterious Island (1874.) Not to be confused with a certain lost fish.
49. Info source, with "the" : WEB. The infamous internet, source of all sorts of good and bad information.
50. Like early life forms : PRIMEVAL. Derived from Latin words meaning early age. In those halcyon days, neither prime time nor evil had yet been invented.
54. Shakespearean actor Kenneth : BRANAGH. He has directed or starred in several movie adaptations of Shakespeare's plays.
58. SALT subject : ABM. Topics for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks included Anti-Ballistic Missiles.
59. Worker who handles returns, briefly : CPA. A Certified Public Accountant handles tax returns and also can tell you if you're in the red.
60. Tune : AIR. Here is a wonderful example.
64. Prune : LOP.
65. New worker : HIREE. If you are a hirer
66. Pick of the litter : ELITE. This doesn't quote seem to fit.
67. Sot's symptoms : DT'S. Delerium Tremens. This is a syndrome resulting from alcohol withdrawal that can include body tremors, mood swings, hallucinations and several other symptoms. "DT's" is in the language, and doesn't require an abrv. hint in the clue.
68. Readied, as the presses : INKED. Ready to print.
69. Deep sleep : SOPOR. Another possible symptom of the DT's, that can last for a day or longer.
1. Engaged in armed conflict : AT WAR.
2. Beatles jacket style : NEHRU. This is a hip length tailored coat somewhat loosely modled on the much longer sherwani, which was worn by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India from 1947 to 1964. It is unlikely that he ever wore a Nehru jacket.
3. Contract change approvals: Abbr. : INITS. Initials - cuz' who wants to take the time to sign their whole NOM?
4. Tit for __ : TAT. Equivalent retaliation, similar to an eye for an eye. Probably derived from the Dutch tip for tap - blow for blow.
5. Motel Wi-Fi, for one : AMENITY. Something that provides comfort, convenience or enjoyment.
6. Singer-dancer Lola : FALANA. An American singer and dancer born in 1942.
7. Jurist Lance : ITO. He presided over events that gave murder trials a bad name
8. Top choice, slangily : FAVE. Short for favorite, I assume.
9. Type of sch. with low grades? : ELEM. Clever clue. Elementary school, my dear Watson, for the PRIMEVAL part of your educational experience.
10. Iron-fisted rulers : DESPOTS. Historically, a ruling individual or oligarchy with absolute power. In modern usage, there is an implication of oppression and abuse of power. Game of Thrones fans will probably think of King Joffrey.
11. "Don't sweat it" : NO BIG DEAL. It's a piece of cake.
12. Baby's boo-boo : OWIE. Until you get hurt
13. Convalesce : MEND. Then you might have take time to get better.
18. First in a car, say : GEAR. This had me stalled for a while, but I'm in 2nd gear now.
23. Uno e due : TRE. One plus two = three. Is this French or Italian?
25. Retired fliers : SSTS. Super Sonic Transports. They have been out of commercial service since Oct. 2003.
26. Straddle : SIT ATOP. This is imprecise. You can SIT ATOP something without having your legs dangled on either side, which is what is required for it to be a straddle.
29. Spark plug measurement : GAP. This distance is critical for proper performance.
30. Color : HUE. For some reason, red comes to mind.
31. Look open-mouthed : GAPE.
32. Valentine's Day deity : EROS. Aka Cupid.
33. Target of a joke : BUTT. This expresson goes back to at least 1775. It is probably derived from the use of the word butt meaning a target for archery practice, and then the target of the joke.
34. St. Louis symbol : ARCH. Someone who hates St. Louis would be it's ARCH enemy.
35. Sci-fi travel conveniences : TIME WARPS. The Free Dictionary tell us a TIME WARP is "A hypothetical discontinuity or distortion occurring in the flow of time that would move events from one time period to another or suspend the passage of time." But since I played an all Brubeck concert last night, I'll go with this.
39. Dict. feature : DEF. Dictionaries feature definitions.
40. Dirty one in a memorable Cagney line : RAT.
41. Sugar shape : CUBE.
43. Terrace cooker : HIBACHI. A charcoal brazier.
44. Night-night clothes? : JAMMIES. Kiddie talk for bed time and pajamas.
46. DDE, in WWII : GEN. General Dwight David Eisenhower.
47. Worn at the edges : FRAYED. Like a puzzle with too many abrvs.
48. Sarcastic remark : GIBE. Did I just make one?
51. TV monitoring device : V-CHIP. So your kiddies can't sneak down in their JAMMIES after you go night-night and watch soft core porn on Skinimax.
52. Most likely will, after "is" : APT TO. Are they likely to?
53. Surgery beam : LASER.
54. Not in need of a barber : BALD. I just had my remaining hairs cut today, and discussed with my similarly unendowed barber the dangers of sunburn on the pate.
55. Mob action : RIOT. Not in a good way
56. It may run from cheek to cheek : GRIN. Wouldn't "ear to ear" be more n the language? My lips go cheek to cheek even when I frown.
57. Carol opening : HARK. Some angel named Harold is singing.
62. Zip code start? : ZEE. O G - a spelt out letter.
63. Day-__: pigment brand : GLO. Color, only better.
Well, that wraps up our CRAZY EIGHT tour. Pretty good ride, with only a couple of clunkers. Hope you had fun with it.