This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: N/A (Watching "Doc Martin" on PBS)
THEME: JACK-IN-THE-BOX ... the circled letters are boxed together, and spell out famous "JACKS" when read clockwise starting from the top left of each box:
JACK NICHOLSON (the movie star)
JACK HORNER (Little Jack Horner from the nursery rhyme)
JACK WEBB (the actor who played Sergeant Joe Friday on TV)
JACK PARR (the host of "The Tonight Show")
JACK LONDON (the author)
JACK NICKLAUS (the golfer)
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
6. 1970s sitcom that included Carlton the Doorman : RHODA
Carlton the Doorman was a voice-only character on the sitcom "Rhoda". Carlton was played by actor Lorenzo Music, also famous for providing the voice of Garfield on the cartoon of the same name.
15. "___ Majesty's Secret Service" : ON HER
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was the sixth of the James Bond films, and the only one to star George Lazenby in the leading role. Not a great choice for 007 ...
16. Hatch in the Senate : ORRIN
Senator Orrin Hatch is a Republican from Utah. He's also quite the musician, and plays the piano, violin and organ. He has also composed various compositions, including a song called "Heal Our Land" that was played at the 2005 inauguration of President George W. Bush.
17. Country music pioneer Ernest : TUBB
Ernest Tubb was nicknamed "The Texas Troubadour". His most successful was song was "Walking the Floor Over You", and he also recorded "Blue Christmas" some ten years or so before Elvis made his famous version. In the sixties he had a hit duet with new kid on the block, Loretta Lynn, called "Sweet Thang".
18. Boarding place? : SLOPE
You can go (snow-)boarding on the slopes.
19. Test group? : MENSA
If you ever learned Latin, you'll know that "mensa" is one of the first words you come across, the word used as an example of a first declension noun. Mensa means "table". The Mensa organization, for folks with high IQs, was set up in Oxford in England, back in 1946. To become a member, you have to score to be in the top 2% of the population's IQ. The IQ score needed depends on the test you use. For the Stanford-Binet test, that's an IQ of 132 or better; for the Cattell test it is 148 or better.
22. Civil War inits. : CSA
The Confederate States of America set up government in 1861 just before Abraham Lincoln took office. The CSA conceded defeat on November 6, 1865.
24. Some footnotes, for short : OP CITS
Op. cit. is short for "opus citatum", Latin for "the work cited". Op. cit. is used in a footnotes to refer the reader to an earlier citation. It is similar to "ibid", except that ibid refers the reader the last citation.
29. Cannoli ingredient : RICOTTA
Cannoli are pastries served as a dessert. They hail from Sicily, and in Italy are known as "cannoli siciliani". Cannoli are basically tube-like shells of fried dough filled with a mixture of ricotta cheese and chopped, candied peel.
33. Flower of the buttercup family : ANEMONE
The name "anemone" means "daughter of the wind" in Greek, and at one time it was believed that the wind was what actually caused the flower to bloom.
35. Gmail alternative : AOL
My advice is to stick with gmail. It is has great features for a free email service ...
36. Passeport info : NOM
The French have their names (noms) recorded in their passports (passeports).
38. "Mazel ___!" : TOV
Mazel tov is the Yiddish term for "good luck!". Although, I understand that mazel tov is used in the sense that good fortune has already occurred and is being acknowledged, whereas in English our wish of "good luck" is for the future.
39. Green gem source : BERYL
The mineral beryl is a source of a number of different, semi-precious stones, depending on the nature of the impurities present. Pure beryl is colorless; blue beryl is called aquamarine, and green beryl is emerald. The source of the green color is mainly chromium.
41. Some surprises ... and what you'll find in the circled areas of this puzzle : JACK-IN-THE-BOXES
A jack-in-the-box is child's toy. It's a box with a crank handle at the side. Turning the crank causes a tune to play (usually "Pop Goes the weasel"), and at the right moment the lid pops open and a spring loaded clown character jumps up out of the box.
45. Israel's Dayan : MOSHE
Moshe Dayan had a long and distinguished military career, and played a pivotal and militarily active role as Minister for Defense during the Six-Day War of 1967. He was a very recognizable figure with a black patch over his left eye. He was fighting for the Allies in Vichy French Lebanon during WWII and was using a pair of binoculars that was hit by an enemy bullet smashing metal and glass fragments into his eye.
46. ___ Miss : OLE
Ole Miss is the nickname for the University of Mississippi. The name "Old Miss" dates back to 1897, the first year a student yearbook was published. The graduating class held a competition to name the yearbook, and "Ole Miss" emerged as the winner. The name stuck to the yearbook, and also to the school itself.
47. Superscript number in math: Abbr. : EXP
The superscript in an exponential number is called the exponent (EXP).
49. Woman in Sartre's "No Exit" : ESTELLE
"Huis Clos" means "behind closed doors" in French. It is the Jean-Paul Sartre play that we in the English speaking world would better recognize under its alternative title "No Exit". The play features four characters who are trapped in a room that they discover is actually in hell. One of the characters is Estelle Rigault, a society woman who married her husband for her money, has an affair that results in a child whom she murders.
58. Short piano piece : SONATINA
A cantata is a piece of music that is sung, as opposed to a sonata, which is a piece that is played on some instrument, often a piano. A sonatina is in effect a sonata that has been labelled as something lighter and shorter.
60. Shoe brand named for an antelope : REEBOK
The brand name Reebok was adopted as the new company name for Foster Shoes of the UK in 1960. The name Reebok is an Afrikaans word for an antelope, and comes from the term "roe buck".
62. Former N.B.A. star Unseld : WES
Wes Unseld played for the Baltimore/Capitol/Washington Bullets for the whole of his professional career. He served as coach for the Bullets a few years after his retirement, and eventually General Manager. Nowadays he devotes his working hours to a private school that he operates in Baltimore, where his wife and daughter also teach.
63. Hip-hop's ___-A-Fella Records : ROC
Roc-a-Fella Records was founded in 1996 ... but I really don't do hip-hop ...
64. It's better than ace-high : PAIR
In poker, any pair is better than ace-high.
66. Tchaikovsky's black swan : ODILE
"Swan Lake" is such a delightfully, light and enjoyable ballet. It tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by a sorcerer. Odile is in effect Odette's "evil twin", another character who is disguised to look like Odette with the goal of tricking the prince who has fallen in love with her. In the ballet, the roles of Odette and Odile are played by the same ballerina.
68. Madison Sq. Garden player : KNICK
The New York Knickerbockers are one of only two founding members of the original National Basketball Association that still plays in its original home city. The other is the Boston Celtics.
74. Religious assembly : SYNOD
The word synod comes from the Greek word for assembly, or meeting. A synod is a church council, usually in the Christian faith.
3. "Fantaisie" composer : CHOPIN
Chopin wrote his "Fantaisie in F Minor" in 1841. Being a "fantasy", it lacks the structure prevalent in other musical forms. A lovely piece.
6. 1915 Literature Nobelist ___ Rolland : ROMAIN
Romain Rolland was a French writer who won his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915. He was a lifelong pacifist, and a big supporter of Gandhi about whom he wrote and indeed met in 1931. He also had a relationship of mutual admiration with Sigmund Freud with whom he corresponded extensively.
7. Realm ended by Napoleon: Abbr. : HRE
The Holy Roman Empire had been at war with revolutionary France from 1792 onwards, and was finally dissolved in 1806 following defeat by Napoleon and the abdication of the last Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II.
10. Tylenol competitor : ANACIN
Tylenol is pain relieving drug, with the active ingredient acetaminophen (which we call paracetamol back in Ireland, and outside of America). Anacin does the same thing, with the active ingredients of aspirin and caffeine.
13. Tate and Bowe were once champions of it: Abbr. : WBA
John Tate was a Heavyweight Champion of the World Boxing Association from 1979-80 (coming right after Muhammad Ali). Riddick Bowe was champion from 1992-93.
23. Person often pictured with crossed legs : SWAMI
A swami is a religious teacher in the Hindu tradition.
27. "Dune" director David : LYNCH
The less than successful 1984 movie "Dune" was an adaptation of the spectacularly successful 1965 novel of the same name written by Frank Herbert. I know David Lynch is considered to be an incredibly important figure in cinema, but I don't think I have enjoyed even on of his movies.
34. Bris parties : MOHELS
Clever clue. A mohel is a man who has been trained in the practice of Brit milah (circumcision). Brit maleh is known as "bris" in Yiddish.
37. Michael of "Caddyshack" : O'KEEFE
Michael O'Keefe played Danny Noonan in the film "Caddyshack" (I'm not a big fan of that movie). I saw O'Keefe not too long ago in the George Clooney film "Michael Clayton".
40. American in Paris, perhaps : EX-PAT
Another clever clue. The play on words refers to the Gershwin composition, "An American in Paris".
41. Singer Feliciano : JOSE
Jose Feliciano is the celebrated Puerto Rican singer, perhaps most famous for his rendition of "Feliz Navidad" heard every Christmas season. Feliciano has been blind from birth, suffering from congenital glaucoma.
44. Designer Geoffrey : BEENE
Geoffrey Beene was an American fashion designer. On his list of notable clients were three First Ladies, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Nancy Reagan.
50. Cousins of clogs : SABOTS
Sabot is the French word for "clog".
51. Subwoofer's zone : LOW END
In a sound system, the subwoofer produces the very low end of the sound spectrum.
53. Bright spot in Canis Major : SIRIUS
Canis Major is Latin for "greater dog", and is the constellation containing the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius. Because of its location in Canis Major, Sirius is also known as the Dog Star.
65. Org. with a sign at many motels : AAA
The American Automobile Association is a not-for-profit organization, focused on lobbying, provision of automobile servicing, and selling of automobile insurance. It was founded in 1902 in Chicago, and published its first hotel guide back in 1917.
67. Head of Buckingham Palace? : LOO
When I was growing up in Ireland, a "bath-room" was the room that had the bath and no toilet. The separate room with the toilet was called "the toilet" or sometimes the W.C., the water closet. Apparently the term closet was used because in the 1800s as toilets moved indoors they often displaced clothes in a "closet", as a closet was just the right size to take the commode. It has been suggested that the British term "loo" comes from Waterloo (water-closet ... water-loo), but no one seems to know for sure.
69. Secretive org. : NSA
The National Security Agency was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense since 1949. The agency has always been clouded in secrecy. Even the 1952 letter from President Truman that set up the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation.