THEME: Swindles! — three kinds of swindles
Never heard the expression SALTING THE MINE, so this took somewhat longer than the average Monday for me. Needed most every cross, and those last four letters were the last to fall. SALT comes from MINES, so ... weird. SALT in this case is not actual salt, but the sprinkling of a little gold in an otherwise worthless mine, such that prospective buyers would find it and assume the mine was viable. PYRAMID SCHEME and THREE-CARD MONTE are both far more familiar, so once I fumbled through the top of this puzzle, the rest went up in smoke (no WISPIER than any other smoke) (33A: Thinner, as smoke).
- 20A: Prospecting swindle (SALTING THE MINE)
- 37A: Multilevel investment swindle (PYRAMID SCHEME) — went looking for PONZI...
- 53A: Sleight-of-hand sidewalk swindle (THREE-CARD MONTE)
Liked the relatively open NE and SW, with their long parallel Downs. Also like that the grid is decidedly lite on crappy fill. For reasons that have almost nothing to do with my ignorance of SALTING THE MINE, I had a weirdly hard time getting out of the gate in the NW. Put in PROP right away but couldn't get first couple of crosses so removed it, thinking the "ringing" part of the clue must be relevant (it's not — it's extraneous; a phone on stage, whether it's ringing or not, is a PROP). Finally got OR ELSE and crossed it with ENS and things started rolling.
Crosswordese 101: ATTAR (48A: Essence of roses) — ATTAR (also known as Farid ud-Din) is a Sufi mystic and poet of the 12th-13th centuries. I know this because I actually took a class in college called "Mystical and Erotic Love Poetry." I want to say that it finally came in handy, but of course it has nothing to do with today's much more common version of ATTAR — an essential oil obtained from flowers.
- 11D: Ray from a natural satellite (MOONBEAM) — you know what else fits? PARKER, JR.
- 39D: Folderol (HOKUM) — I had HOO-HA! Love the HOKUM / KAYAK / KEENED nexus.
- 41A: Accomplished with a single try (ONE-SHOT) — this word is familiar to me from comics, where a ONE-SHOT is a single, self-contained issue that is not part of a regular comic series. My experience is that ONE-SHOTs are often terrible. I read one last night about some made-up Arthurian knight. Not great.
See you Friday
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Everything Else — 1A: Ringing phone on stage, e.g. (PROP); 5A: Place to unwind (SAUNA); 10A: Complacent (SMUG); 14A: Medal recipient (HERO); 15A: Panama divider (CANAL); 16A: Ice cream parlor order (CONE); 17A: Some lemony quaffs (ADES); 18A: Spring up (ARISE); 19A: Took the subway (RODE); 20A: Prospecting swindle (SALTING THE MINE); 23A: USN rank (ENS.); 24A: Utmost degree (NTH); 25A: Shadow (UMBRA); 27A: Suffix with farm or home (-STEAD); 29A: Fly in the ointment (SNAG); 32A: North Pole toy maker (ELF); 33A: Thinner, as smoke (WISPIER); 36A: Temptation on a hook (BAIT); 37A: Multilevel investment swindle (PYRAMID SCHEME); 40A: Stratagem (PLOY); 41A: Accomplished with a single try (ONE-SHOT); 42A: Slip signed by a debtor (IOU); 43A: Quiche base (EGGS); 44A: Inuit craft (KAYAK); 48A: Essence of roses (ATTAR); 50A: Sigma follower (TAU); 52A: King beater (ACE); 53A: Sleight-of-hand sidewalk swindle (THREE-CARD MONTE); 58A: Brit's elevator (LIFT); 59A: Cube or sphere (SOLID); 60A: Similar (to) (AKIN); 61A: Load to bear (ONUS); 62A: Reclassified planet (PLUTO); 63A: Golfer Ballesteros (SEVE); 64A: Like the stepsisters in "Cinderella" (UGLY); 65A: Red Sea republic (YEMEN); 66A: Ready to drive, as a golf ball (TEED); 1D: Parts of a cycle (PHASES); 2D: Stinging crawler (RED ANT); 3D: Ultimatum words (OR ELSE); 4D: Big name in breakfast cereal (POST); 5D: Barely adequate (SCANT); 6D: Stereotypical pirate's cry (AARGH); 7D: Part of ICU (UNIT); 8D: Poet Ogden (NASH); 9D: Toward the sheltered side (ALEE); 10D: Curtain material (SCRIM); 11D: Ray from a natural satellite (MOONBEAM); 12D: Be situated beneath (UNDERLIE); 13D: "My goodness" ("GEE"); 21D: Gandhi's land (INDIA); 22D: Java holder (MUG); 26D: Shipboard direction (AFT); 28D: Bad way for plans to go (AWRY); 29D: Go-with dishes (SIDES); 30D: Loch of lore (NESS); 31D: St. Louis's Gateway __ (ARCH); 34D: Reason for an air quality alert (SMOG); 35D: Bullet-on-metal noise (PING); 36D: Second in a series (BETA); 37D: Cooking up a coup (PLOTTING); 38D: Like kids' enthusiasm (YOUTHFUL); 39D: Folderol (HOKUM); 40D: Actress Zadora (PIA); 43D: Before, of yore (ERE); 45D: Derek Jeter, e.g. (YANKEE); 46D: Busy (ACTIVE); 47D: Wailed (KEENED); 49D: Culturally pretentious (ARTSY); 50D: Hackneyed (TRITE); 51D: Home builder's afterthought (ADD-ON); 54D: Notice (ESPY); 55D: Nat or Natalie (COLE); 56D: School reunion attendee (ALUM); 57D: Hops oven (OAST); 58D: Singer Rawls (LOU).