Phrases containing the word "back" are treated literally, with the target word "backed up."
16. Deep-sea creature, literally : PMUH WHALE. Humpback whale.
20. Alternative strategies, literally : LLAF PLANS. Fallback plans.
40. Infomercial offers, literally : YENOM GUARANTEES. Money-back guarantees.
55. Toddler's transport, literally : YGGIP RIDE. Piggyback ride
65. Preflight purchase, literally : REPAP BOOK. Paperback book.
Marti here on an unusual Friday. I do not think we have seen Paulo in the LA Times before, so congratulations on your debut. Paolo did collaborate on one devilishly clever puzzle with Frank Longo in the Fireball crosswords earlier this month, and I understand that he is a high school freshman? Move over, David Steinberg!
I figured out the theme immediately with the first one, which helped me to zip through the rest of them. But I did get slowed down in several spots. Let's see what they were.
1. Ones calling the shots? : REFS. Waited for perps - could also have been "umps."
5. Rock blasters : AMPS. Waited for perps - could also have been "TNTs."
9. Californie, for one : ETAT. Solid.
13. Apple variety : iMAC. Yep, I'm typing on one right now.
14. Goal for a runner : SEAT.
15. Renaissance painter Veronese : PAOLO. Shoutout to himself? I have linked "The Wedding at Cana" before.
18. Mozart's "King of Instruments" : ORGAN. Gimme!
19. Seat of Dallas County, Alabama : SELMA. The small city that had a huge impact on the Civil Rights movement.
22. Churchill, for one : TORY.
24. "Who, me?" : MOI? and a clecho at 53-Across. "Who, me?" : NOT I !
25. 1,000 G's : MIL.lion. G's are short for "grand," or one thousand dollars.
27. Goes out for a bit? : NAPS.
30. Fusion, for one : ECOCAR. Ford Fusion.
35. Receptionist on "The Office" : ERIN. No clue - all perps.
37. It's frowned upon : NO NO.
39. Yellowish tone : OCHRE.
43. Time to say "¡Feliz año nuevo!" : ENERO. "Happy New Year!" is said in January.
44. Pioneers' journey, say : TREK. Like the Mormon migration from Illinois to the Rocky mountains.
45. Unpopular spots : ACNE.
46. Buck : RESIST.
48. 1980s surgeon general : KOOP.
50. Dennings of "Thor" : KAT.
51. __ lane : HOV.
61. Alley wanderers : MUTTS.
64. Certain Middle Easterner : IRANI.
67. Pirouette, essentially : PIVOT.
68. Settled down : ALIT.
69. "Truth in Engineering" automaker : AUDI.
70. First place? : EDEN.
71. Bothersome parasites : LICE.
72. Block (up) : STOP.
1. Steals, with "off" : RIPS.
2. Former "Fashion Emergency" host : EMME. She broke the mold of the model world.
3. Surface fractures : FAULT LINES. Hey, it wasn't my fault!
4. Blockhead : SCHMO. Love that word.
5. Fire proof : ASH.
6. Courses taken consecutively? : MEAL.
7. Depressing atmosphere : PALL.
8. Energy : STEAM.
9. "Downton Abbey" title : EARL. Had to wait on perps before deciding between "lord," "lady" or EARL.
10. Draped garment : TOGA.
11. The first "A" in A.A. Milne : ALAN. Sheesh...misspelled again! (^0^)
12. Piles : TONS.
15. Michael Jackson, e.g. : POP ICON. Had to wait on perps before deciding whether it would be ICON or Idol.
17. Tip off : WARN.
21. One on the other side : FOE.
23. Half a philosophical duality : YANG. The other half is, of course, "yin."
25. "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" author Nicholas : MEYER. Crap. I wanted Doyle. It's Dr. Watson's "lost manuscript" about Sherlock Holmes. Followed immediately by:
26. Adler of Sherlock Holmes lore : IRENE. Remember "Scandal in Bohemia"? She is the only character who ever outwitted Sherlock.
28. Look down : POUT.
29. Snideness : SNARK. Ohhhh-kaaaaay...
31. Numerical prefix : OCTA.
32. "Look at this!" : CHECK IT OUT.
33. Battleground : ARENA. The big one is on Sunday in Glendale, AZ. Our local supermarket is called "Big Bunny," and they outfitted the huge mascot on the roof with Gronk's # 87. Cute!
34. Start over, in a way : RESET.
36. Sushi seaweed : NORI.
38. Layered snack : OREO.
41. Venue involving a lot of body contact : MOSH PIT.
42. "Right Now (Na Na Na)" artist : AKON. All perps.
47. Rogers Centre team, on scoreboards : TOR.onto.
49. Majestic display : POMP.
52. Like some popular videos : VIRAL.
54. Big brass : TUBAS.
55. "Heavens to Betsy!" : YIPE.
56. Crossword component : GRID.
57. Collapsed : GAVE.
58. Aware of : IN ON.
59. Where many subs are assembled : DELI. Cute misdirection.
60. Really, really cool : EPIC. Really?
62. Stir : TO DO.
63. Pass over : SKIP.
66. Downed : ATE.
That's it for this week. Thanks for letting me walk in your shoes today, Lemony!