THEME: OOK x 2 — three theme answers feature two "-OOK" words apiece
Very loose but reasonably enjoyable theme. Sometimes, similar sounds (esp. kOOKy ones) are enough to hold a puzzle together. All three theme answers are grid-spanning fifteens — would have been nice to have a little more 'zazz in the grid, given how little the theme restricts non-theme fill here, but it is Monday, after all, so perhaps there's only so much fancy stuff one can do before the puzzle starts to drift into mid-week difficulty territory. My only complaint about the puzzle is the utterly substandard spelling of AHCHOO (44A: "Bless you!" elicitor). According to the cruciverb.com database:
- ACHOO — 94 grid appearances
- AHCHOO — 7
Now, that's not terribly surprising given that there's going to be far less call for 7-letter words generally, let alone ones that require the "HCH" combo. But still, I have a revulsion to all fill that can be spelled multiple ways. See the dreaded "ball game" ONE O CAT / ONE A CAT, and then all Latin plurals, e.g. NOVAE (22D: Exploding stars). The Latin plural thing is an acceptable nuisance, actually; much less grating than the arbitrary adding of an "H" to a word that isn't really a "word" to begin with, but an onomatopoeic spelling of a bodily sound.
"K" is my favorite letter of the alphabet, by far, and so I was happy to see a clue for BOND (48A: Agent 007) in a puzzle the theme of which was "OOK." I think "OOK" will be my handle when I become an INTL spy (17A: Like flights from the USA to Eur., e.g.), hanging out with CHIC ladies (7D: In fashion), playing KENO (8D: Popular bar game) and drinking OUZO (40A: Anise-flavored liqueur), while hunting down the criminal mastermind at the heart of the illegal ORCHID trade (25A: Corsage flower).
- 20A: Gave additional consideration (TOOK a second LOOK)
- 36A: Falsifying accounting records (COOKING the BOOKS)
- 49A: In any way possible (By HOOK or by CROOK)
Crosswordese 101: EKGS (34D: Heart tests: Abbr.) — electrocardiograms. Why is there a "K" in there? Who knows? Apparently this test is sometimes abbreviated "ECG," but I rarely if ever see that abbrev. In puzzles, it's "EKG" (almost) all the way. "K" is just @#$#ing hard to resist (hence my future spy moniker). The main thing to remember with EKGS is that they are not EEGS. EEG = electroencephalography. In short, EKGS measure the electrical activity of your heart, EEGS measure the electrical activity of your brain.
- 31A: '70s-'80s consumer electronics giant (AIWA) — first of all, I never knew they were a "giant." I don't think they were a "giant" in this country. Second of all, it's only recently that I learned that they are officially a bygone giant. I was sure they were still around in the '90s. Aha, scant research tells me that AIWA was bought by Sony, but only fairly recently (2002) ceased being a separate company. Here's the very sad last line of the Wikipedia entry on AIWA: "As of 2009, the Aiwa website still exists for some territories/regions, but it contains some broken links and blank pages. In other regions, such as Europe, it redirects to a page on the Sony site stating that the Aiwa website has closed down"
- 1D: Slightly (A BIT) — I had A TAD. Like the ACME / APEX dilemma, you get the first letter and now you've got yourself a dilemma... I also initially tanked AIR DRY, entering AIR OUT instead (9D: Hang on a clothesline).
- 37D: Prohibited (NOT OK) — ... hmmm. I think this answer (or clue) is NOT OK. Answer is too slangy for the clue.
- 4D: Ice cream treat (MILKSHAKE) — mmm, good. Can't / don't drink them anymore, as keeping fatness at bay is a priority as I enter middle age. But they are good. Shakes at my college's main eatery were legendary. So thick you had to eat them with a spoon.
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Everything Else — 1A: Sandler of "Funny People" (ADAM); 5A: Do a pre-vacation chore (PACK); 9A: Musicians' org. (ASCAP); 14A: Island tourist destination in Indonesia (BALI); 15A: 1975 Wimbledon champ Arthur (ASHE); 16A: Words of compassion (I CARE); 17A: Like flights from the USA to Eur., e.g. (INTL.); 18A: "Birthday suit" (SKIN); 19A: Vacation time, for short (R AND R); 20A: Gave additional consideration (TOOK A SECOND LOOK); 23A: Winter toy (SLED); 24A: Bosses (around) (ORDERS); 25A: Corsage flower (ORCHID); 28A: __ Jones's locker (DAVY); 30A: Detox locale (REHAB); 31A: '70s-'80s consumer electronics giant (AIWA); 32A: Sharp cheese (BLEU); 36A: Falsifying accounting records (COOKING THE BOOKS); 39A: "Even __ speak ..." (AS WE); 40A: Anise-flavored liqueur (OUZO); 41A: More than medium (LARGE); 42A: Days at an inn (STAY); 43A: Loving touch (CARESS); 44A: "Bless you!" elicitor (AHCHOO); 48A: Agent 007 (BOND); 49A: In any way possible (BY HOOK OR BY CROOK); 55A: Pine (for) (YEARN); 56A: __ stick: bouncing toy (POGO); 57A: Dust Bowl migrant (OKIE); 58A: Slyly derogatory (SNIDE); 59A: Letter-shaped fastener (T-NUT); 60A: Paris-__ Airport (ORLY); 61A: Less loony (SANER); 62A: Trig ratio (SINE); 63A: Catholic service (MASS); 1D: Slightly (A BIT); 2D: "Book 'em, __!": "Hawaii Five-O" catchphrase (DANO); 3D: Type of sax (ALTO); 4D: Ice cream treat (MILKSHAKE); 5D: Didn't flunk (PASSED); 6D: Made an inquiry (ASKED); 7D: In fashion (CHIC); 8D: Popular bar game (KENO); 9D: Hang on a clothesline (AIR DRY); 10D: Burn badly (SCALD); 11D: Tippy craft (CANOE); 12D: Intense passion (ARDOR); 13D: Company car, expense account, etc. (PERKS); 21D: Suspect's "I was home all night," e.g. (ALIBI); 22D: Exploding stars (NOVAE); 25D: Shamu, for one (ORCA); 26D: Vintage cars (REOS); 27D: Chuck wagon fare (CHOW); 28D: Scatterbrained (DITZY); 29D: Dr. Seuss's "Horton Hears __" (A WHO); 31D: Water in Juárez (AGUA); 32D: Conference table site (BOARD ROOM); 33D: Handed-down stories (LORE); 34D: Heart tests: Abbr. (EKGS); 35D: Puts to work (USES); 37D: Prohibited (NOT OK); 38D: Mel who voiced Foghorn Leghorn (BLANC); 42D: Oklahoma athlete (SOONER); 43D: Toon Wile E., e.g. (COYOTE); 44D: Bottomless depth (ABYSS); 45D: "Laughing" critter (HYENA); 46D: IHOP or Borders (CHAIN); 47D: Nomadic tribe (HORDE); 48D: Shooter with small shot (BB GUN); 50D: Elects (OPTS); 51D: Rice-A-__ (RONI); 52D: Gumbo veggie (OKRA); 53D: Cook's array (OILS); 54D: Florida islets (KEYS).