Theme: Suddenly it all becomes clear, or Bring on the V-8 can. Each two word theme entry starts with the letters A, and AH, respectively, and represents the unifier in a literal way. Without the unifier, there would have been no AHA MOMENT for me. I can't think of anything else these four entries might have in common.
17 A. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" collaborator : ALEX HALEY. More famous for ROOTS, perhaps.
24 A. "The helpful place" sloganeer : ACE HARDWARE. Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man.
36 A. Many a circus employee : ANIMAL HANDLER. Somebody has to clean up after the elephants.
53 A. Wayne Manor resident : AUNT HARRIET. I know nothing about this character. Do they keep her locked in the attic?
And the unifier - 62 A. Light-bulb-over-the-head instance, and a hint to 17-, 24-, 36- and 53-Across : AHA MOMENT.
Hi Gang, JzB reporting for duty. It's been over three months since the Christian Feast of the Epiphany, but that doesn't mean we can't have our own little experiences of sudden and striking realization. I had one once in a graduate level class on organic photochemistry. I was spinning my wheels for half the term, then suddenly one day I got it. Then I couldn't understand why I had ever thought it was hard. Baffling experience. Let's see if we can find any startling revelations in today's puzzle.
1. Spice organizer : RACK. You can alphabetize your spice jars on a wooden structure specifically defined for that purpose. Or you can randomly place them on a lazy susan, as I do, and hope for the best.
5. 48-Across brand : SOBE. An abbreviation of SOuth BEach, as in Miami's upscale area. They make teas, fruit-juice blends and enhanced water beverages, and are owned by PepsiCo. Along with 48. Iced drink : TEA.
9. Right-angled supports : L-BARS. Available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
14. K-12, to textbook publishers : EL-HI. ELementary and HIgh school.
15. Neck and neck : TIED. As in the score of an even game. Or this.
16. Slightly moisten : BEDEW. As if moistened by dew [or whatever.] Goes back to the 14th century.
19. Green hue : OLIVE. The only color I allow in a martini. When Bluto made off with Popeye's best girl, was he OLIVE with envy?
20. Camcorder button : RECord.
21. Google executive chairman Schmidt : ERIC. Alternate clue, JzB's son. I would have known it then.
22. Had too much, briefly : OD'ED. OverDosed, as on Easter candy.
23. Antlered animal : ELK. Cervus canadensis, one of the largest species in the deer family.
28. Mu followers : NUS. Mind your mus and NUS. It's all Greek alphabet to me. Is that news?
29. Pt. of a sentence : PHR. Phrase. Seems like an odd abrv.
30. Vote against : NAY.
31. Certain commuter's destination: Abbr. : STN Station.
32. Belmonts frontman : DION. DiMucci. Do you wonder why?
34. 1930s migrants : OKIES Escapees from the Oklahoma dust bowl. About 15% of the population of the state fled to California along Rt. 66.
42. Scheherazade's milieu : HAREM. The "forbidden place," home to the many wives [and concubines] of a polygynous household, off limits to men.
43. Designer St. Laurent : YVES.
45. Tech sch. overlooking the Hudson : RPI. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1824, it is the oldest technological university in the English speaking world
48. Iced drink : TEA. Our Tin Man can relax - this is no sacrilege.
49. "Just an update" letters : FYI. For Your Information.
52. Pipe bend : ELL.
56. Actress Peeples : NIA. AKA Virenia Gwendolyn Peeples. She was once young and restless.
57. Sasquatch cousin : YETI. Distant cousins, I presume.
58. "The Dukes of Hazzard" deputy : ENOS.
59. Mt. Sunflower is its highest point : KANsas
60. Antacid, briefly : BROMO Seltzer.
64. When many take morning breaks : AT TEN. TEN AM also fits.
65. Proofreading mark : DELE. Delete.
66. Winans of gospel : CECE. Not always, though. C.C. - can you sing like this?
67. Calf-roping loop : NOOSE. Greek cattle require NUS.
68. Sign : OMEN.
69. You might steer one with your feet : SLED. Downhill racer.
1. Behind, or hit from behind : REAR END Back side [noun] of a car, for example, or collide with one from the back [verb.]
2. Christian chant : ALLELUIA. Goes back to Middle English, via late Latin and Greek from Hebrew for a song of praise to God. Lots of these on Easter.
3. Inspects : CHECKS ON.
4. "Kid-tested" cereal : KIX. Puffed whole grain corn
5. Pasta or potato, e.g. : STARCH. Cereal, too, like KIX, Trix or Chex.
6. More slippery : OILIER.
7. Nut-bearing tree : BEECH.
8. Big name in ice cream : EDY. And a Crossword favorite.
9. Wall St. deal : LBO. Leveraged Buy Out. IPO also fits.
10. Subordinate to : BELOW.
11. Athletic brand founded by Adolf Dassler : ADIDAS. A new fact to quickly forget.
12. Backslide : REVERT. To a previous inferior condition. As in forgetting new facts?
13. Birthplace of Bergman and Garbo : SWEDEN. Ingrid and Greta.
18. Accumulation : HEAP. Pile up, not necessarily involving a rear end.
25. "Eso Beso" singer : ANKA. Paul. That kiss.
26. Picnic worry : RAIN. Ants, too.
27. Turned green, say : DYED. She dyed from envy, turning OLIVE.
33. Bethesda-based medical org. : NIH. National Institutes of Health. American medial research agency, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
34. Resistance unit : OHM. Electricity
35. Devious : SLY.
37. Field with roots and logs : MATH. Clever clue
38. __ rug : AREA.
39. King with three daughters : LEAR. Regan, Cordelia, and the unfortunately named Goneril.
40. Symbol of balance : EVEN KEEL.
41. Faith : RELIANCE.
44. Italicized : SLANTED. Some think I have Italicized political views.
45. Sunglass Hut brand : RAYBAN.
46. Mexico's __ Vallarta : PUERTO.
47. Altogether : IN TOTO. "What happened to the meat balls I was going to have for lunch," inquired the Wizard. "I believe they are all together IN TOTO," Dorothy replied.
49. Fireworks highlight : FINALE. A big end, not to be confused with REAR END
50. Naval petty officers : YEOMEN. Maybe Spitz can elaborate.
51. "Make __": Picard catchphrase : IT SO. Go get 'er done.
54. Movie listing listings : TIMES.
55. Bring up again? : REHEM. Another clever clue. A HEM is a narrow cloth edge folded over and sewn to provide a finished look and prevent unraveling. REHEMing a dress or skit would make it shorter.
61. What two heads are better than : ONE.
62. Disturbance : ADO.
63. Intro givers : MCS. Masters of Ceremonies.
That wraps up this nicely done puzzle. Hope your forehead got through it unscathed.