This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: N/A (watching the new season of "Doc Martin")
THEME: SP-OUT ... all the them answers are common phrases with the beginning SP taken OUT
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
14. "Gladiator" setting : ROME
You might remember that in the 2000 film "Gladiator", veteran British actor Oliver Reed plays a gruff old gladiator trainer who befriends the main character, played by Russel Crowe. Sadly, Reed died during production of the film, without about half of scenes still to be shot. Director Ridley Scott and his crew were able to rescue the film by using a body double and seamless CGI graphics to create the impression of Reed's presence in remaining scenes. The film is dedicated to the memory of Oliver Reed.
16. Attila, for one? : ACE INVADER
(SP)ACE INVADER ...
Attila the Hun was the most feared enemy of the Roman Empire in his day, until he died in 453.
24. When said three times, a dance : CHA
The cha-cha-cha is a Latin dance with origins in Cuba, where it was introduced by composer Enrique Jorrin in 1953.
25. Cowardly boxer? : RING CHICKEN
31. Voice opposition : DEMUR
To demur is just that, to voice opposition, to object. It can also mean to delay, and has it roots in the Latin word "demorare", meaning to delay.
36. North Carolina's ___ University : ELON
Elon is a city in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, close to the city of Burlington. Elon University is a private, liberal arts school, founded in 1889.
37. Jefferson's religious belief : DEISM
Deism (from the Latin "deus" meaning god) is the belief that a supreme being created the universe, a belief based on observation and reason and without the need for faith. Further, a deist does not accept divine intervention, but rather believes that the supreme being having created the universe, leaves the world to it own devices. When Thomas Jefferson was campaigning for the presidency, he had to fight against a tide of criticism for his beliefs with were very much out of line with the general population.
39. "L'___ c'est moi" : ETAT
"L'Etat, c'est moi" is a French phrase, supposedly spoken by Louis XIV on his death bed. It translates to "I am the State", an would appear to mean that Louis considered himself to be "above his station" as it were. However, many dispute the quotation, and argue that Louis actually said on his death bed that even though he was dying, the State would live on.
40. Like a photon : MASSLESS
In the field of electromagnetic radiation, a photon is the basic unit of light, an elementary particle. The photon is believed to have no mass, but this fact does seem to create some theoretical inconsistencies ... which I just don't understand!
43. Where to find a genie? : IN THE BOTTLE
(SP)IN THE BOTTLE
52. The Destroyer, in Hinduism : SHIVA
The Hindu Trinity is Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva (also Siva) the destroyer or transformer. Shiva is a Sanskrit word meaning "auspicious, kind, gracious".
55. Relative of Bowser : FIDO
The name used for a dog, "Fido", is the Latin word for "I trust". I have no idea what Bowser means, if anything ...
57. Concerning : IN RE
The term "in re" is actually Latin, derived from "in" (in) and "res" (thing, matter). It literally means "in the matter", and is used as "in regard to", or "in the matter of".
59. Holders of some pipe joints? : ELL BINDERS
63. Nimbi : AURAE
Nimbus (plural nimbi) is another word for a halo, or an aura. Nimbus is Latin, and can also mean cloud.
64. Carry-on checkers: Abbr. : TSA
The Transportation Security Administration was of course created in 2001, soon after the 9/11 attacks.
66. Teapot part ... or a two-word hint to 16-, 25-, 43- and 59-Across : SPOUT
SP-OUT ... take the SP OUT of the theme answers ...
1. Early counters : ABACI
The abacus was used as a counting frame long before man had invented a numerical numbering system. It is a remarkable invention, particularly when one notes that it is still widely used today across Africa and Asia.
5. Barley bristle : AWN
An awn isn't specific to barley. An awn is the name given to hair or bristle-like structures found in numerous species of plants. In some species, like barley, the awns can contain photosynthetic tissue.
10. "Habanera" from "Carmen" is one : ARIA
When Georges Bizet wrote his famous opera "Carmen", he used the melody of what he thought was an old folk song as a theme in the lovely aria "the Habanera". Not long after he finished "Carmen" he discovered that the folk song was in fact a piece that had been written by another composer, who had died just ten years before "Carmen" was published. Fittingly, Bizet added a note to the score declaring the original source.
17. Caesar's "I came" : VENI
The oft-quoted "Veni, vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered) was apparently written by Julius Caesar. The words date back to 47 BC and refer to the short war between Rome and Pharnaces II of Pontus.
21. Taylor or Tyler : WHIG
The Whig Party (in the US) operated from 1833 to 1856, as the opposition party to the Democrats. One of the tenets of the Whig Party was the supremacy of Congress over the Executive branch. Prominent members of the party included Presidents Zachary Taylor and John Tyler.
23. Norris Trophy winner for eight consecutive years : ORR
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded to the top defense player in the NHL each year, based on votes by members of the professional Hockey Writers' Association. Bobby Orr won the award every single season from 1967-1975. Bobby Orr is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. By the time he retired in 1978 he had undergone over a dozen knee surgeries. At 31 years of age, he concluded that he just couldn't skate any more. Reportedly, he was even having trouble walking ...
26. Miller's need : GRIST
When grain has been separated from its chaff, to prepare it for grinding, it is called "grist". Indeed, the word "grist" is derived from the word "grind". Grist can be ground into a relatively coarse meal, or into a relatively fine flour. The names can be confusing though. For example, the grist from maize if ground to a coarse consistency is called "grits", and if ground to a fine consistency is called "corn meal".
27. N.Y.S.E. listings : COS
28. Green Hornet's sidekick : KATO
In "The Green Hornet" television series, Kato was famously played by Bruce Lee. The role has been cited as a driving force behind the increase in popularity of martial arts in the US during the sixties.
29. "Yikes!" : EGAD
Egad was developed as a polite way of saying "oh God" in the late 1600s, and is an expression of fear or surprise, as is "yikes!".
31. Prefix with god : DEMI
The prefix demi- means "half", and so a demigod is a "half god". A demigod in mythology is the child of parents, one of whom is a god, and the other human. One example, from back in Irish mythology, is Cu Chulain, a heroic defender of Ulster.
41. ___ the Hyena of "Li'l Abner" : LENA
In the "Li'l Abner" comic strip, Lena the Hyena was supposed to be the world's ugliest woman. She appeared occasionally in the storyline, although her face was always covered, supposedly to protect the readers.
44. Popular bathroom cleaner : TY-D-BOL
I think it's one of those "blue toilet water" products. Never heard of it till now ...
45. First pope with the title "the Great" : LEO I
Pope Saint Leo the Great is famous for having met with the feared Attila the Hun, and persuading him to turn back his invading force that was threatening to overrun Western Europe.
49. Summer month in South America : ENERO
In the Southern Hemisphere, January (enero in Spanish) is usually the warmest month of the year.
50. Pianist Claudio : ARRAU
Claudio Arrau was a greatly respected Chilean pianist, who performed for much of the twentieth century until his death in 1991. He left Chile to study in Germany, where he lived for many years, having married a German opera singer. During WWII, Arrau and his family left Germany and settled in the US, and lived out his days in New York City.
54. Self-assembly retail chain : IKEA
Did you know that IKEA was founded by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943 .... when he was just 17-years-old??!!
55. Ice sheet : FLOE
An ice floe is a sheet of ice that has separated from the ice field, and is floating freely on the ocean.
56. She said "Play it, Sam" : ILSA
Ilsa Lund was of course the role played by Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie "Casablanca". I love the words of one critic describing the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman in this film: "she paints his face with her eyes". Wow ...
59. "I know what you're thinking" skill : ESP
Extra Sensory Perception.
60. "If I Ruled the World" rapper : NAS
Rapper Nas used to go by the stage name Nasty Nas, and before that by his real name, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. He released "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" in 1996. Not my cup of tea, I would say ...