When I can't make sense of several answers in the puzzle, I should immediately think it's a rebus...or a cram-a-lot according to a favorite blogger friend.
I definitely should have thought something was up when the four corners just wouldn't come together.
And I can't believe I didn't get it even when I was sure the answer to 1D ["You sure said it!"] was AMEN to that...but I didn't fill that in. It wasn't until I had ***TOTHAT that it finally hit me.
The word AMEN is in the outermost corners of the puzzle, and it's all wrapped up with 55A: It ends with something found four times in this puzzle (prayer).
In addition to 1-Down, the other seven AMEN answers are:
1A: Parts of churches appropriate to this puzzle (AMEN corners). I've never heard the expression...maybe they weren't in Catholic or Episcopal churches.
9A: TV news crew (camerA MEN), crossing with 14D: Adds to or subtracts from (AMENds). I had been content with camera, even though that gave me add for 14D...which didn't make sense.
65A: Factor in a hotel rating (AMENities), crossing with 60D: Filament holder (stAMEN). Again, I actually thought of amenities, but it wouldn't fit...or so I thought.
66A: Egyptian royal (TuthankhAMEN), crossing with 46D: Citizen soldiers (militiAMEN). Again, I was satisfied with militia, and I couldn't remember King Tut's full name...so it looked fine.
In addition to the mighty fine theme, this was chock (9D: Wood block for holding an object steady)...okay, wrong definition...full of great fill, including my favorites...multiword answers: 17A: Really bizarre (out there), 36A: Consequence (end result), 61A: Graphic in a business report (pie chart), 44D: D, for one (low mark), and...my personal favorite...45D: Where "Thy will" will be done, in part (on earth).
A few things I didn't know and had to rely on crosses to get: 18A: Loads (onuses)...still doesn't sound right, 30A: Italian leaders (duces), 5D: It meant nothing to Nero (nihil), 25D: Imitative (mimetic)...not familiar with the word, but it seems to make sense, 29D: Mahler's "Das Lied von der __" (Erde)...which means The Song of the Earth, 50D: Tony winner for "Sweeney Todd," 1979 (Cariou)...I want to see Johnny Depp's performance, and 53D: Edvard __, Czech president and patriot (Benes).
I never saw Gilmore Girls, so had no idea about 56D: Setting for many episodes of TV's "Gilmore Girls" (Yale). To make things worse, I was picturing "The Golden Girls" in my mind...and Miami Beach wouldn't fit.
Once I realized that, and with *AL* in place, I confidently entered mall...it seemed to work. I guess Gilmore Girls must have been a little older than middle schoolers. Who knew?
Favorite clues include 19A: Angular opening? (tri), 21A: Ones with cool jobs? (icemen), 31A: Quick change artist? (teller), 63A: Rare play (triple), 7D: Like favorite books, often (reread) and 37D: Buzz (rumor). The jury's still out of 34D: Sitting spot (tush)...seems kind of iffy for the New York Times, but I kind of liked it.
I'm often confused by identical clues appearing in a puzzle...and today it happens twice. At 11D: Roomy dress is muumuu...great Hawaiian word, to tie in with 38D: Hawaiian root (taro)...and at 58D it's tent. I actually remember tent dresses being popular when I was in junior high. I don't remember that they were all that roomy. Then again, I was tiny, so there wasn't much fabric. The second set of clues...Trattoria order...appears at 40D (Campari) and 48D (scampi).
Other answers I liked include 15A: Decks (topsides), 22A: Veronica of "Hill Street Blues" (Hamel), 43A: Winter Olympics event (slalom), 47: "Midnight Cowboy" role (Ratso)...although I had Rizzo at first, 60A: Writer Rushdie (Salman), 3D: Best (optimal) and 12D: Perfume (essence).
I had planned to make this a short post, but the puzzle was just too good. I had a second cortisone shot in my shoulder today and will start a second round of physical therapy next week. If that doesn't do it, then we're looking at surgery. I officially feel old...high cholesterol that continued to climb (despite a healthy lowfat diet) plus a coronary scan that showed mild atherosclerosis = Lipitor...now a part of my daily routine. After three weeks on blood pressure meds, I'm happy to say that it's working...I was 120/80 for the first time in forever.
The good part of being old is that today was senior day at Kohl's, so I got an additional 15% off everything I bought...a tow truck and Thomas the Train flannel pajamas for grandson Franklin, both already at 50% off. Some days they have to pay me to take stuff out of the store.
That's it for today. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.