The theme is revealed at 58A: Hint to 17-, 28- and 43-Across (IT'S REVERSED)...and IT is.
17A: Wardrobe malfunction? (UNTIED FRONT)
28A: Mood after a military victory? (MARTIAL BLISS). This was the one that gave me the theme.
43A: Where porcine pilots arrive? (LANDING STIES). This was the last one to fall for me. I had landing, but I was thinking strip...as in a strip of bacon...until I cracked it with 28-Across.
Last Sunday's puzzle, PUT IT IN WRITING, added IT to the titles of various books, as well as a play. A recent New York Sun puzzle, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, added IT to half of the theme entries and removed IT from the other half. It's amazing how much you can do with IT.
I love seeing X in the puzzle, especially when we have a word like cineplex (9D: It has many pictures) and its cross at 39A: Ranges (extents)...a repeat of a recent NYT answer.
It's just as good to see J in the grid. 19A: Atlantic City hotel, informally, with "the" (Taj)...definitely a Thursday clue, crossing at 13D: Muslim honorific (Haji).
If I had to pick a favorite sport, it would be baseball. My brothers played, my dad coached, and they all loved the Yankees. That means that 15A: Wearer of the Yankees' retired #9 (Maris) was a gimme for me. I had this baseball card (scroll past the stats)...minus the autograph.
11D: Director Michelangelo (Antonioni). Does an Italian name get any better than that?
22D: Emmy-winning Phil was a tough one. Phil Donahue was the first answer to come to mind, but the crosses were telling me I was wrong. I didn't know that Phil Silvers (the correct answer) was an Emmy winner.
20A: "Blah blah blah blah blah" was a great clue for babble.
24A: Unit of punishment (lash) made me think along the lines of the wet noodle variety. The next clue (26A: Result of punishment) had me searching for a word to describe the result of that type of lashing. They were talking about real lashings, though, which would result in pain.
36A: Beastly (inhuman) and 40A: Akin (analogous) are words you don't often see in the grid.
There were a few things I didn't know. Many I got from crosses, but I did have to Google a couple of them.
51A: Early English actress Nell __ (Gwyn).
5D: Artist Frank __, pioneer in Minimalism (Stella).
33D: Eleanor Roosevelt's first name (Anna).Other things I liked:
28D: Late editorial cartoonist Bill (Mauldin). I'm not sure how I knew this, but I did.
34D: Certain notes (thank yous). I had the US before anything else was in place, but that sure gave it away.
38D: Doubter (agnostic). My first guess was Thomas. When that wasn't long enough, I thought maybe St. Thomas. They've pulled that kind of trick in the past, and I was ready for it. I hope I will be the next time it happens.
Here's the completed grid. I didn't check it, so let me know if you spot any errors. I pay big bucks if you find any.
Okay, I don't really.
These Monday holidays really confuse me. I left several voicemail messages today that were so garbled...I couldn't remember what day it was and I just stumbled all over the place. I'll be glad when this week is over.
See you tomorrow.