Theme: Organized Sound - Three phrases ending in synonyms for music, the end of the unifier.
20A. Stops broadcasting : GOES OFF THE AIR. You don't hear AIR used that much anymore as a synonym for a song or melody.
31A. Very cheaply : FOR A SONG
40A. Make minor changes to : FINE TUNE
53A. 1969 Beach Boys hit, and a hint to the ends of 20-, 31- and 40-Across : "I CAN HEAR MUSIC". Clip(2:29) An interesting write-up goes along with it.
Argyle here. A simple Monday but a bit unusual, having two fill longer than two of the theme entries. Lots of alliteration today.
1. Earlier : PRIOR
6. King of the Empire State Building? : KONG. Klassic klip(2:02) from King Kong 1933.
10. Felix and Sylvester : CATS
14. Beautiful, in Bologna : BELLA. In northern Italy Map.
15. Sheltered, on a ship : ALEE
16. Very much : A LOT
17. Took off : SPLIT
18. "You couldn't hit the broad side of a __!" : BARN. And if they are really bad, you add, "from the inside!"
19. Shore phenomenon : TIDE
23. Calif.'s second-busiest airport : SFO. San Francisco International Airport. LAX is #1 in CA but only #3 in US. Atlanta is #1, world-wide. Statistics.
25. Applies gently : DABS
26. 1956 perfect game pitcher Don : LARSEN. This clip is from the only perfect game in World Series history.
27. Soldiers' knapsacks : KIT BAGS
29. Lamb cut : LEG. 57. Roast cut : RUMP
30. Greek "i" : IOTA
36. Worries : FRETS
38. Payment promise letters : IOU
39. Stage platform : RISER
42. Houston player, informally : STRO. Baseball's Houston Astros.
43. Exhibit curiosity : ASK
44. Souvenirs with slogans : T-SHIRTS
47. Surprise attack : AMBUSH
51. Message from the boss : MEMO
52. Mule's parent : ASS. The offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The offspring of a male horse and a female donkey is a hinny.
56. Fishtail : SKID
58. Use TurboTax, say : E-FILE
61. Lie around idly : LAZE
62. "Am __ late?" : I TOO
63. Used a wrecking ball on : RAZED
64. Once-over giver : EYER
65. Marseilles monikers : NOMS. The south of France, port on the Mediterranean Sea.
66. Angioplasty implant : STENT
1. NEA grant recipient : PBS. National Endowment for the Arts / Public Broadcasting Service.
2. Crunch unit : REPetition
3. Acquired dishonestly : ILL-GOTTEN. Probably from evil-gotten
4. Hodgepodge : OLIO
5. Like some bonds : RATED A
6. Cookout offerings on sticks : KABOBs
7. Five Norse kings : OLAFs
8. Spongy ball brand : NERF
9. More sensitive about breaking bad news : GENTLER
10. Supply party food for : CATER
11. Misleading name : ALIAS
12. "It's __ for!": "Fabulous!" : TO DIE
13. Tiller's locale : STERN. On a boat. (or skiff)
21. Drop in the middle : SAG
22. Comics Viking : HAGAR
23. Watercraft for one : SKIFF. But it can hold more than one.
24. Flowers, in Florence : FIORI. South of Bologna.
28. Diminish : BATE
29. Baseball great Gehrig : LOU. Another Yankee, before Larsen.
31. Grant, to Lee : FOE
32. Se�or's "Positively!" : "SI, SI!"
33. Blackball : OSTRACIZE
34. "Dagnabbit!" : "NERTS!". When was the last time you heard this used, if ever.
35. A dozen dozen : GROSS
37. Secret supply : STASH
38. Fountain pen filler : INK
41. Herald, as a new era : USHER IN
44. Beats for this puzzle's theme : TEMPOs
45. Dallas campus: Abbr. : SMU. Southern Methodist University.
46. Con artists : HOSERs
47. Theater divider : AISLE
48. Olympics sportscaster Jim : McKAY
49. Feltlike fabric : BAIZE. Think pool table cover.
50. In a trance : UNDER
51. 1983 Michael Keaton role-reversal movie : "MR. MOM"
54. Caddy or Jag : AUTO
55. "__ first you don't succeed ..." : IF AT
59. Author Deighton : LEN
60. Boston summer hrs. : EDT
Note from C.C.:
Here is a sweet photo of Dear Santa Argyle with the bride of a wedding he attended last Saturday June 25. 2011. Love the T-shirt. Scott is Argyle's real name.