Sometimes it pays to be a random thinker. This was one of those times.
I knew something was up when I saw the clue for 40A: 1985 Michael J. Fox film. I knew it was Back to the Future. Since it wouldn't fit, I thought perhaps we'd been dealt a rebus.
The southeast corner fell pretty quickly for me. Once I had 55D: Missing word in 21-, 31-, 40- and 50-Across, applied literally (back), I returned to 40A. How would I apply the word back literally? I was fairly certain that 30D: Blocks in a healthful diet? was tofu (great clue, by the way), so that got me thinking. And then it hit me. The theme entries weren't just missing a word...they were written backwards!
21A: From the beginning again (enoerauqsot) -- back to square one
31A: Revived (daedehtmorf) -- back from the dead
40A: 1985 Michael J. Fox film (erutufehtot) -- Back to the Future
50A: Controlling things once more (elddasehtni) -- back in the saddle
A clever theme, and beautifully executed. The judges give it a 9.5!
Always love the appearance of X -- at 15A: Neuron part (axon) and 7D: Part of a gyroscope (axle). And again at 43D: Atone (expiate) and 45A: Truths (axioms).
Fun clues and answers include:
14A: A-one (primo). We see a-one as an answer from time to time. It was nice to see it as a clue...make the old brain drag that information to the forefront.
25A: 1960s greeting (V signs). I was thinking along the lines of Peace, Love, Happiness, but I got it without too much difficulty. Partly because of the G that resulted from:
11D: Chinese menu notation (no MSG). We've had that before, and I'm always pleased when I remember things for a future puzzle.
36A: Low joint (dive). Ooh...good one.
The very best name in Olympics was also cleverly clued. 46A: Street in the Winter Olympics (Picabo).
I'm not a whiz at geography, but it was pretty easy to guess that I-90 runs through Ohio (54D) and that it runs along Lake Erie (51D).
It really helped to nail 58A: Greeting that may precede "Pehea 'oe?" (aloha). Some time before our Hawaii trip, I'll do a post on the meaning of aloha.
On that note, I'll say Auf Wiedersehen (37A), and I'll see you tomorrow.