This is my solution to the crossword published in the New York Times today ...
COMPLETION TIME: 8m 51s
THEME: SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE ... all the theme answers contain signs of the Zodiac i.e. LITT(LE O)NES, CA(LIBRA)TE & EVA M(ARIE S)AINT. Each of the signs sits on a dotted line in the grid.
ANSWERS I MISSED: 0
15. Job made almost obsolete by voice recorders : STENO
Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek "steno" (narrow) and "graphe" (writing).
17. Tots : LITTLE ONES
Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac.
20. Plaza de toros cry : OLE
We call the Spanish "Plaza de Toros" a "bullring", and bullfighting is known as "corrida de toros" in Spain. Bullfighting can also be seen in Portugal, southern France and in parts of Latin America.
21. First murderer : CAIN
The story of Cain and Abel not only appears in the Bible. It also features in the Qur'an, where the brothers are named Kabil and Habil.
22. "Entourage" agent Gold : ARI
Ari Gold is a fictional character in the HBO series "Entourage". "Entourage" tells the story of a rising film star, Vincent Chase, a native of New York but now learning to handle himself in Hollywood. Vincent's Hollywood agent is Ari Gold, and is played by Jeremy Piven.
23. Moor's deity : ALLAH
The word "Moor" describes various peoples of North Africa, usually of the Muslim faith. At the height of their geographic influence, the Moors occupied much of the Iberian peninsula, calling it Al Andalus (from which modern Andalusia gets its name). One of the most famous Moors in literature is Othello, the title character in William Shakespeare's tragedy "Othello, the Moor of Venice".
25. Make fine adjustments to : CALIBRATE
Libra is the seventh astrological sign of the Zodiac.
30. Home of the Stars : DALLAS
The Dallas Stars is the professional ice hockey team in Dallas, Texas. The Stars were founded in 1967, based in Bloomington, Minnesota, and back then called the Minnesota North Stars. The team moved to Dallas in 1993.
32. Fictional airline on "Lost" : OCEANIC
Oceanic Airlines was central to the story of "Lost", the television series which recently wrapped up on ABC. But, Oceanic wasn't created for "Lost" - the airline made its first appearance in the 1996 action movie "Executive Decision", in which an Oceanic Boeing 747 was hijacked by terrorists.
37. "On the Waterfront" Oscar winner : EVA MARIE SAINT
Eva m-ARIE S-aint
Aries is the first astrological sign of the Zodiac.
Eva Marie Saint is an American actress, who won the Best Supporting Actress for playing Edie Doyle in the 1954 movie "On the Waterfront". My favorite of her roles though, was in the 1959 Hitchcock classic, "North by Northwest", when she starred opposite Cary Grant. Eva Marie ratcheted back her career at its height, right after her success in "North by Northwest". She opted instead to spend more time with her husband and children, taking very few roles. That marriage is still going strong, and she has two children, and three grandchildren.
41. Actress Larter of "Heroes" : ALI
Ali Larter is an American actress who played two roles (identical twins) on the NBC series "Heroes". Larter was originally a model, before moving in to the movies. One of her more famous roles on the big screen was supporting Reese Witherspoon in the 2001 film "Legally Blonde".
42. Stars that exhibit the "lighthouse effect" : PULSARS
A pulsar is a rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. As the beam is not emitted in all directions, it is only seen from Earth when at a particular rotation, creating a cycle of pulsed gamma rays, known as the lighthouse effect.
43. Tortilla chip brand : DORITOS
Doritos are a brand of flavored tortilla chips launched in 1964. The name "Doritos" means "little bits of gold" in Spanish.
50. With 60-Across, ink a contract ... or a feature of 17-, 25- and 37-Across : SIGN ON THE
60. See 50-Across : DOTTED LINE
57. "Usual gang of idiots" magazine : MAD
At "Mad" magazine, the list of regular contributors is known as "The Usual Gang of Idiots". Some of those contributors have been around for over fifty years.
58. One of Spot's masters : JANE
The "Dick and Jane" readers were written by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp, and were used by children to learn to read from the thirties through the seventies. Along with Spot the dog, Dick and Jane were supported by Puff the cat and Tim the teddy bear.
64. Film director Kershner : IRVIN
American film director Irvin Kershner directed well-recognized films, including "The Empire Strikes Back" and "RoboCop 2".
65. Fit for duty : ONE A
The US government maintains information on all males who are potentially subject to military conscription, using what is called the Selective Service System. In the event that a draft was held, men registered would be classified into groups to determine eligibility for service. Class 1-A registrants are those available for unrestricted military service. Other classes are 1-A-O (conscientious objector available for noncombatant service), 4-A (registrant who has completed military service) and 4-D (Minister of religion).
68. Line to Penn Sta. : LIRR
The Long Island Rail Road is the commuter rail service that runs all over Long Island, New York, with 124 stations and 700 miles of track. More people use the LIRR than any other commuter railroad in the US. It is also the only commuter railroad in the country that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
1. Time-consuming task for a musketeer : RELOAD
A musketeer was an infantry soldier that was equipped with a musket. Funnily enough, Alexander Dumas' "Three Musketeers" really didn't use their muskets, but rather were better known for their prowess with their swords.
2. Armpit, anatomically : AXILLA
Axilla is the Latin name for the armpit.
4. Ballpark fig. : EST
An estimate is a ballpark figure.
6. Stiff-upper-lip sort : STOIC
Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosopher who was famous for teaching at the Stoa Poikile, the "Painted Porch", located on the north side of the famous Ancient Agora of Athens. Because of the location of his classes, his philosophy became known as stoicism (from "stoa"). And yes, we get our adjective "stoic" from the same root.
7. Temporary tattoo dye : HENNA
Henna has been used for centuries as a dye, not just for leather and wool, but also for the hair and skin. In modern days, henna is used for the temporary tattooing of the skin.
9. "Sending out an ___" (much-repeated line in a Police hit) : SOS
The Police were a trio formed in London in 1977, with Sting being the most famous member and lead singer. The band released "Message in a Bottle" in 1979, a song telling of a castaway "sending out an SOS" by sending off a "message in a bottle".
10. Jagged mountain range : SIERRA
The Sierra Nevada straddles the border between California and Nevada, and "sierra" is a Spanish word meaning mountain range.
11. Hoosier : INDIANAN
The exact origin of the word "Hoosier" is unknown, but has been around since at least 1830. The term had no direct linkage with Indiana until John Finley of Richmond, Indiana wrote a poem called "The Hoosier's Nest" in 1833. A few year's later by 1840 it was generally accepted as a term for Indiana residents.
12. Captain's journal : LOG
The word "logbook" dates back to the days when the captain kept a daily record of the ship's speed, progress etc. using a "log". A log was a wooden float on a knotted line that was dropped overboard to measure the vessel's speed.
18. Toast at a bar mitzvah : L'CHAIM
"L'Chaim" is a Hebrew toast meaning "to life", as "chai" is the Hebrew word for "life".
22. Mt. Rushmore neighbor of Teddy : ABE
The four presidents whose faces are carved in the granite face of Mount Rushmore are (from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Each of the presidents is about 60 feet in height, although this might have been larger. The initial intent was the presidents be depicted from head down to their waists, but the project lost funding.
24. Menlo Park middle name : ALVA
Thomas Alva Edison was nicknamed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter, a name that stuck with him. He was indeed a wizard, in the sense that he was such a prolific inventor. And he was associated with Menlo Park as his first research lab was built in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
26. Pricey seating areas : LOGES
In most theaters today the loge is name given to the front rows of a mezzanine level. It can also be the name given to box seating.
29. Prefix with -cide : ECO
Ecocide is the wanton destruction of the natural environment.
34. Target for Teddy Roosevelt : TRUST
Teddy Roosevelt's "trust-busting" was basically designed to curb the powers of large corporations. I'm not sure how successful he was!
37. Morlocks' victims, in an H. G. Wells story : ELOI
In the 1895 novel by H. G. Wells "The Time Machine", there were two races that he encountered in his travels into the future. The Eloi were the beautiful people, that lived on the planet's surface, while the Morlocks were basically a slave race living underground.
38. Birthplace of eight U.S. presidents : VIRGINIA
There were eight presidents born in Virginia:
5)William Henry Harrison
40. Publisher's 13-digit ID : ISBN
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was invented by one Gordon Foster, who now is a professor at Trinity College, Dublin in Ireland. The code was originally developed for booksellers, so that they had a unique number (and now a bar code) for each publication.
47. Bahamas getaway : BIMINI
Bimini is the western part of the Bahamas, and the closest point to the mainland United States. Bimini was home to Ernest Hemingway from 1935-37, and while there saw an Atlantic blue marlin captured that weighed about 500 ponds, the apparent inspiration for his story "The Old Man and the Sea". More recently, in 1987 Senator Gary Hart's political career as derailed when photo's of him with model Donna Rice surfaced. The pictures were taken on the yacht "Monkey Business" in Bimini.
51. Sharp products, for short : HDTVS
Sharp is one of the leading manufacturers of high-definition televisions.
56. Setting for the movie "Sister Act" : RENO
In the 1992 comedy "Sister Act" starred Whoopi Goldberg as lounge singer from Reno who hides out in a San Francisco convent disguised as a nun. It's a funny, funny film.
60. Handyman's letters : DIY
Back in Ireland we don't hardware stores as such, but rather DIY Centres (and that's the spelling). DIY: Do It Yourself.
62. "U R funny!" : LOL
LOL is an abbreviation used in Instant Messages and phone text messages, meaning Laughing Out Loud.