Theme: Trick Shots. The first word of all the theme answers can precede "SHOT" to create a new phrase.
17A. *Tyke's dinnertime perch : BOOSTER SEAT. Just hearing "booster shot" as a kid was enough to strike fear into my heart. I didn't do well with needles.
25A. *Unfair deception : CHEAP TRICK. Floyd Mayweather notoriouly knocked out Victor Ortiz in 2011 with what was alleged to be a cheap shot. The referee looks as startled as Ortiz! This is a little different from the other theme entries as both words could be paired with "SHOT".
37A. *Insignificant amount : DROP IN THE BUCKET. Roger Federer is the master of the tennis version of the drop shot.
48A. *Numero uno : HEAD HONCHO. I live in the city of the head shot, and those of many an unknown actor adorn the walls of hairdressers and convenience stores.
And the reveal:
59A. Try, or a hint to the first words of the answers to starred clues : GIVE IT A SHOT
Hola, Amigos! Steve here with a nice Gareth Bain outing. Some very fun cluing and a tight theme adds up to a cheerful Wednesday.
1. Monarchy : REALM
6. Many a class reunion tune : OLDIE
11. "Captain Phillips" actor Hanks : TOM. I saw this movie recently - very intense. I was actually shaking at the end.
14. __ ink : INDIA
15. Fishing spots : PIERS. Hand up for HOLES first.
16. Title heartbreaker in a Three Dog Night song : ELI
19. "I'm not a crook" monogram : RMN. Richard Milhous Nixon, or more appropriately, "Tricky Dicky".
20. Rogue : RASCAL. Nice placement with the previous answer.
21. Plowing measure : ACRES. I wonder why this word escaped the US English spelling reform that transforms meter/metre and liter/litre amongst others.
23. Ad Council ad, briefly : P.S.A. Public Service Announcement. Crosses for me, I didn't know this abbreviation nor the connection with the Ad Council.
28. Energetic : ACTIVE
31. Obvious joy : GLEE
32. "Spider-Man" trilogy director Sam : RAIMI
33. Feel sorry about : RUE
34. Quipster : WIT
42. Weekend TV fare for nearly 40 yrs. : S.N.L.
43. Reading after resetting : OOO. I'm assuming this is referring to a car's mileage trip odometer? If so, what's the protocol for using letters to denote what are really numbers?
44. "Roots" hero __ Kinte : KUNTA
45. Scandinavian port : OSLO
47. Comeback : RETORT
53. Used to be : WAS
54. Lover of Euridice, in a Monteverdi work : ORFEO. I was scratching my head wondering why ORPHEUS wasn't going to fit and began pondering whether Euridice had more than one lover. Then the penny dropped with the reference to the Italian composer.
55. Decide not to ride : HOOF IT
58. Cambridge sch. : MIT
64. Rocks found in bars : ICE. Uh-Oh - don't look, Tinbeni.
65. Software buyers : USERS
66. Kevin of "Cry Freedom" : KLINE
67. Audio receiver : EAR
68. Tag cry : NOT IT
69. Loosened : EASED
1. Cage component : RIB
2. Ambient music innovator : ENO. Immensely talented gentleman. And for a man with a three-letter last name, he certainly makes up for it with what precedes it - his full name is Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno.
3. Worship : ADORATION
4. Brainy Simpson : LISA
5. Yoga class supply : MATS
6. Onetime rival of Sally Jessy : OPRAH. Sally Who? Before my (USA) time.
7. Stocking thread : LISLE
8. Mark of concern : DEE
9. Roth __ : IRA.
10. Collection of heir pieces? : ESTATE. Another fun clue.
11. Country singer Gibbs : TERRI
12. Ancient Mexican tribe known for carved stone heads : OLMEC
13. Capital WSW of Moscow : MINSK. The capital of Belarus. It looks quite pleasant from a distance.
18. "__ homo" : ECCE
22. Style reportedly named for Ivy League oarsmen : CREW CUT. The Germans call it a bürstenschnitt; I doubt we'll be seeing that in the crossword any time soon.
23. Western chum : PARD
24. Lasting marks : SCARS
26. Hot-and-cold fits : AGUE
27. Working class Roman : PLEB. I thought this was a slangy term for "plebeian" but as it's not clued that way I guess it's a word in itself.
29. Collapse inward : IMPLODE
30. Sundial hour : VII. One of my personal "Hall of Fame" words is "gnomon" - the shadow-caster on the sundial.
33. Greek consonant : RHO
35. "Don't tell me, don't tell me!" : I KNOW THIS. The puzzle-solver's mantra.
36. Neon swimmer : TETRA
38. Court plea, briefly : NOLO. Nolo Contendere, or a plea of "No Contest".
39. Multi-cel creature? : TOON
40. Commonly four-stringed instrument : UKE
41. Bits of ankle art, say : TATS. I'm tattoo-free - more needle-phobia.
46. Former Japanese military ruler : SHOGUN
47. Horseradish, e.g. : ROOT. A lot of the wasabi served in Japanese restaurants outside Japan is likely to be a mixture of horseradish and mustard, dyed green. I've had the genuine stuff freshly grated using a piece of sharkskin and the flavor is more subtle than the substitute.
48. Pal, slangily : HOMIE
49. Novelist Jong : ERICA
50. "... happily ever __" : AFTER
51. Oteri of 42-Across : CHERI
52. Lift : HOIST
56. Knockoff : FAKE
57. Land surrounded by agua : ISLA
60. Prefix with metric : ISO
61. Doc who administers a pet scan? : VET
62. United : ONE
63. English poet Hughes : TED. This Poet Laureate was fond of writing odes to dead things. Charming chap!
I'm in Texas this week - the first time I've actually set foot in the state (I don't count changing planes as visiting a state or a country). I'm hoping to track down some famous barbecue tonight!
As a Texan might say "It's a wrap, and bigger than any wrap you've seen before".