THEME: No theme today—This is a themeless Saturday puzzle
I had a beer before doing this puzzle on Friday night—I'm in training for the Tipsy Crossword Challenge I'd like to hold during the ACPT—so while I think this puzzle is about as hard as a medium Friday NYT crossword—meaning tougher than most Saturday L.A. Times crosswords of the past six months—I can't swear that's an accurate assessment.
When I want to earn some money, I either work on crossword assignments or do some medical editing. So I was pleased with the biomedical slant of a bunch of the fill in this puzzle:
- 1A: We all know what MUSCLE is from an anatomical standpoint. It's also a slangy term for Hired goons.
- 17A: Use your ears to Heed, or LISTEN TO someone or something.
- 21A: "Fantastic Voyage" setting in sci-fi is the BLOODSTREAM. Great pop-culture clue for a word that could be kinda boring.
- 35A: Its contents are under pressure clues AEROSOL. Doesn't look biomedical, except that a sneeze aerosolizes horrid germs.
- 48A: Geneticist's pursuit clues DNA RESEARCH. Just read today that there's pressure on the University of Nebraska to limit stem-cell research. Now, "stem-cell research" is a rock-solid phrase. DNA RESEARCH feels kinda iffy to me. Genetics research, sure. What does Google say? Google says "DNA research" is good for 411K hits and that there's a scientific journal by that name. (Objection hereby withdrawn.)
- 63A: Biological catalyst is an ENZYME.
- 25D: Solution for a fertility problem, perhaps could be a SPERM DONOR, or in vitro fertilization, or a handful of other options. My best friend's son is the genetic offspring of lucky Donor #9. (If you feel this answer pushes the bounds of what's tasteful, be glad that it wasn't clued as, say, "male grad student's side job.")
- 7A: To Snub someone is to HIGH-HAT them. HIGH-HAT is also a noun and adjective. With the G and T in place, NEGLECT seemed like an obvious answer, but all the other letters were wrong.
- 28A: To Refuse to make changes is to SIT PAT. No, wait. I don't like this one. I would like STAND PAT, but SIT PAT is a bit weaker.
- 9D: Rakes it in clues GETS RICH. How awesome an entry would GET-RICH-QUICK be?
- 11D: The SUV that replaced the Passport is the HONDA PILOT. We see relatively few make/model combos in crosswords, and I, for one, would welcome more. VW BUG sometimes shows up, but answers like TOYOTA CAMRY, CHEVY CAVALIER, and FORD MUSTANG would be cool too.
- 15D: The GLIDER is a Quiet aircraft. My dad took lessons in the '70s.
- 22D: Hands down, my favorite clue. Three less than once looks surreal—wait, is that negative twice?—but once in Spanish is "eleven" in English, so 11 – 3 = OCHO. OCHO is the funniest of the Spanish numbers, isn't it? That Ocho Cinco guy in the NFL has brought the number a great deal of pizzazz.
- 36D: I like familiar brand names as crossword fill. The "Sorry, Charlie" brand is STARKIST canned tuna.
- 46D: 2002 Campaign Reform Act co-sponsor is John MCCAIN. For those who suspect that President "60% Vowels" Obama gets his name in so many crosswords because of a liberal plot, here's your McCain for balance.
- 54D: Normal in Illinois, say is a small CITY. Home of Illinois State University, neighbor of Bloomington.
- 56D: One Instrument played with a plectrum is a LYRE. You know what a plectrum is? Nothing more than a guitar pick. I asked my husband, who plays guitar, what famous guitarists use picks. He said "Chet Atkins," so I headed to YouTube and found an Atkins/Mark Knopfler guitar duet, featuring Atkins using a thumb pick. "Atkins is so much better than Knopfler," my husband says. Dang! Knopfler is good, so that's saying something. Enjoy the music, and I'll see you next Wednesday (and in the comments lounge):
Everything Else — 1A: Hired goons (MUSCLE); 7A: Snub (HIGHHAT); 14A: Power to attract (APPEAL); 15A: Like an unexpectedly large gift (GENEROUS); 16A: Buys time (STALLS); 17A: Heed (LISTEN TO); 18A: "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" setting (KOREA); 19A: Sticking points? (MIRES); 20A: Suggested actions (DOS); 21A: "Fantastic Voyage" setting (BLOODSTREAM); 24A: Bad check letters (NSF); 27A: Land buy (ACRE); 28A: Refuse to make changes (SIT PAT); 30A: Heroic (EPIC); 32A: Cologne title (HERR); 34A: Rivera with two Tonys (CHITA); 35A: Its contents are under pressure (AEROSOL); 37A: Authority level (ECHELON); 39A: Nottingham's river (TRENT); 40A: 1973 Toni Morrison novel (SULA); 42A: She played WKRP's Jennifer (LONI); 43A: Fancy watches (OMEGAS); 45A: Benchmark (NORM); 47A: Defense agency since Nov. 2001 (TSA); 48A: Geneticist's pursuit (DNA RESEARCH); 51A: Keep entirely to oneself (HOG); 52A: Work with dough (KNEAD); 53A: Rhodes with a scholarship (CECIL); 57A: Some tattoos (INITIALS); 59A: Equivalence (PARITY); 60A: "I kid you not!" (HONESTLY); 61A: "8 Simple Rules" star John (RITTER); 62A: Son of Agamemnon (ORESTES); 63A: Biological catalyst (ENZYME); 1D: Diver's need (MASK); 2D: "It's not __ me" (UP TO); 3D: Box for training purposes (SPAR); 4D: Tabloid subject (CELEB); 5D: "Deck the Halls" ending (LA LA LA); 6D: Some commuter lines (ELS); 7D: They're next in line (HEIRS); 8D: Detailed windows (INSETS); 9D: Rakes it in (GETS RICH); 10D: Realm until the 19th cen. (HRE); 11D: SUV that replaced the Passport (HONDA PILOT); 12D: Cuckoos in clocks, e.g. (AUTOMATONS); 13D: Chinese menu possessive (TSO'S); 15D: Quiet aircraft (GLIDER); 19D: Gourmet mushrooms (MORELS); 22D: Three less than once (OCHO); 23D: Waters of music (ETHEL); 24D: "Super-duper!" ("NEATO!"); 25D: Solution for a fertility problem, perhaps (SPERM DONOR); 26D: Vehicle with a deluge gun (FIRE ENGINE); 29D: Patty Hearst's nom de guerre (TANIA); 31D: Partygoers may get their kicks out of one (CONGA); 33D: Switch magazines, maybe (RELOAD); 36D: "Sorry, Charlie" brand (STARKIST); 38D: "Locked room" mystery writer John Dickson __ (CARR); 41D: Restless (UNEASY); 44D: Hill body (SENATE); 46D: 2002 Campaign Reform Act co-sponsor (MCCAIN); 49D: Hawks (SELLS); 50D: Big name at airports (HERTZ); 51D: Jaunty greeting (HIHO); 54D: Normal in Illinois, say (CITY); 55D: One often follows a bullet (ITEM); 56D: Instrument played with a plectrum (LYRE); 58D: Some NFL pass catchers (TES); 59D: Post- opposite (PRE-).