- 17A: Flight from a heated argument? (CROSSFIRE ESCAPE).
- 27A: Talkative "King of Country"? (JABBERING STRAIT).
- 44A: Gene carrier responsible for truancy? (HOOKY CHROMOSOME).
- 59A: Liven up, with "to" (and a hint to how 17-, 27- and 44-Across were created) (ADD A LITTLE PUNCH).
After all that, I do want to say that I appreciate the grid's Scrabbliness and like quite a few of the medium-length down answers like LOSES BIG, WISEGUYS, KAYAKS, POP-UP, and even BANJO. Even though I'm not crazy about the theme, there's some good stuff in here.
- 1A: Knack (FEEL).
- 14A: Othello's confidant (IAGO). Shakespeare has a lot of characters with great names, but IAGO is the best of the best as far as I'm concerned. For some reason, I just love that name.
- 25A: Jack succeeded him (IKE). John F. Kennedy (Jack) succeded Dwight D. Eisenhower (IKE) to the U.S. presidency. (On a related note, JFK Jr. would have been 50 years old yesterday. Sniff.)
- 35A: Allegheny, as of 1979 (USAIR). I had forgotten that USAIR used to have a different name. I thought "A river changed its name? I wonder why!"
- 37A: A.L. Central team, on scoreboards (CLE). For the sporst-challenged, that's CLEveland.
- 39A: Word on the Great Seal of the U.S. (NOVUS). The front of the seal says E pluribus unum ("out of many, one"). The reverse has two phrases: Annuit coeptis (basically, "Providence has approved of our undertakings") and NOVUS ordo seclorum ("a new order of the ages").
- 41A: Gram. topic (ADJ.). You might discuss ADJectives in the context of GRAMmer.
- 62A: Idaho flower (SNAKE). If you're wondering why you've never heard of a SNAKE flower, that's because (like me) you were pronouncing that word wrong. This clue is actually asking for something that flows through Idaho. And that would be the SNAKE River.
- 63A: Cat's-paw (TOOL). I have never heard of this tool. I continue to amaze myself with the stuff I don't know.
- 8D: Company in Germany? (ZWEI). Playing on the phrase "Two's company, three's a crowd." ZWEI is German for "two."
- 9D: Signal callers: Abbr. (QB'S). Even the sports-challenged know this one means quarterbacks, right?
- 10D: Sportscaster Bob dubbed "Mr. Baseball" (UECKER). I actually knew who this clue was talking about, but I can enver remember how to spell his name.
- 26D: Chess jumpers: Abbr. (KTS.). Abbreviation of "knights."
- 50D: Bart Simpson's teacher __ Krabappel (EDNA). You're welcome.
- 56D: Pop's pal, at breakfast? (SNAP). Took me a while to decipher this clue. It's a reference to the Rice Krispies … what are they, elves? SNAP, Crackle, and Pop.
- 57D: 2006 NSA suer (ACLU). I assume this has something to do with wire-tapping, but I'm not going to look it up right now. There's much more family togetherness to be had today!! Enjoy your Friday. I hope you don't have to go shopping.
Everything Else — 5A: Big name in crackers (RITZ); 9A: Earthshaking news? (QUAKE); 15A: Not many (A FEW); 16A: Where to look out? (BELOW); 20A: Thumbs-up (ASSENT); 21A: Baking shortcut (MIX); 22A: Flamboyant band since the '70s (KISS); 23A: Ask for (SEEK); 36A: Karate skill symbols (BELTS); 38A: Minor damage (DING); 40A: Propeller sound (WHIR); 43A: Devout (PIOUS); 47A: Run a fever, perhaps (AIL); 48A: Informal rejection (NOPE); 49A: Big bunch (BEVY); 52A: Absorb, as a loss (EAT); 55A: Affects, as one's heartstrings (TUGS AT); 64A: Cole Porter's alma mater (YALE); 65A: Boss's privilege (SAY-SO); 66A: Office suites, e.g. (APPS); 67A: Like yarn (SPUN); 1D: Pay stub abbr. (FICA); 2D: "I'm all __" (EARS); 3D: Obstacles to quiet on the set? (EGOS); 4D: Takes a real beating (LOSES BIG); 5D: Roof support (RAFTER); 6D: "__ Had $1000000": Barenaked Ladies hit (IF I); 7D: Six years, for a senator (TERM); 11D: Kyrgyzstan range (ALAI); 12D: Keystone krew? (KOPS); 13D: Meadow mamas (EWES); 18D: Contemptuous look (SNEER); 19D: Isn't fiction (EXISTS); 24D: Put the __ on: end (KIBOSH); 27D: David's kingdom (JUDAH); 28D: "... say, not __" (AS I DO); 29D: Bela Fleck's instrument (BANJO); 30D: "Fat chance!" (NEVER); 31D: Fasten, in a way (GLUE ON); 32D: Blessing evoker (ACHOO); 33D: Pelvic bone (ILIUM); 34D: Like Coolidge, famously (TERSE); 39D: Proton sites (NUCLEI); 40D: Crackers? (WISE GUYS); 42D: "Thought you should know," on a memo (FYI); 43D: Like some children's books (POP-UP); 45D: Whitewater craft (KAYAKS); 46D: Sites of many affairs (MOTELS); 49D: Largemouth __ (BASS); 51D: End of the war (V-DAY); 53D: "__ girl!" (ATTA); 54D: Sporty car roof (T-TOP); 58D: Afterwards (THEN); 60D: MGM mascot (LEO); 61D: Cut (LOP).