I enjoyed the struggle of this puzzle today. I had a couple of trouble spots, but managed to piece it all together eventually. Some of the longer fill is just awesome. Look, I'm as tired of hearing about TIGER WOODS as the next person, but seeing him right there next to ZERO MOSTEL is pretty cool (30D: Three-time U.S. Open champ / 31D: He played Max Bialystock in "The Producers"). The trouble down in that corner came when I entered Lao-TZE instead of 30A: Lao-TZU. I felt kind dumb mixing those two guys up when I realized my mistake, but now that I've looked it up I see that both my answer and the correct answer are ways of referring to the same person.
Things that I just flat-out didn't know:
- 17A: USAF plane for limited runways (STOL). Stands for "Short Take-Off and Landing." So it's not one specific type of plane, it's a way of describing the types of planes that are used, as the clue says, for limited runways.
- 12D: Manny with 150 career pinch hits (MOTA). MOTA played for a couple other teams before settling with the L.A. Dodgers in 1969. After he retired from playing, he joined the Dodger coaching staff and is still a coach today.
- 13D: Hungarian wine region (EGER).
- 47D: 1966 U.S. Open champ Fred (STOLLE). After Funk and Couples, I'm out of Freds. And as it turns out, this clue is about tennis, not golf.
- 5A: Younger partner (JESSE JAMES). Turns out a guy named Cole Younger ran with the outlaw Jesse James. Who knew? I thought this clue was looking for a phrase like "older and wiser" only "younger and [something]." But I couldn't think of anything.
- 18A: They need to be transcribed (STENO NOTES). The other day at work, my supervisor asked me if I had a recommendation for a book that would teach her shorthand. Hey, I'm old but I'm not that old!
- 23A: Crime show in its 11th season (CSI). Is it possible that this show has been on this long?
- 26A: "Per ardua ad __": RAF motto (ASTRA). "Through adversity to the stars."
- 40A: Fiend (OGRE). Unless it's a crossword fiend. That kind of fiend is definitely not an ogre.
- 41A: Stiff's nickname (EL CHEAPO). I thought "stiff" in this clue meant a dead body. Not sure what that says about me.
- 50A: Result in a roped-off area, briefly (TKO). A TKO (technical knock-out) might be the end result of a boxing match, which takes place in an area surrounded by ropes.
- 56A: Cobra-killing carnivore (MONGOOSE). Were we just talking about "meerkat" the other day? That was the only thing I could think of here. I knew it wasn't right, but for some reason meerkat and mongoose occupy the same part of my brain and I just couldn't distinguish them.
- 58A: Networking asset (SHARED FILE). With the -ILE in place, I thought this would be some kind of SMILE.
- 64A: Agent's accounts (SPY STORIES). I kept parsing this "spy's [something]," which kept me from figuring it out for quite a while.
- 1D: Southwestern national park, or the primary plant that grows there (JOSHUA TREE). JOSHUA TREE National Park is in southern California. Pretty sure they shot an episode of "Entourage" there once.
- 10D: Flower in the amaryllis family (JONQUIL). Can you get more Scrabbly than the JONQUIL?
- 14D: Part of SSS: Abbr. (SYST.). Selective Service SYSTem.
- 25D: Accepted principle (AXIOM). With the -IOM in place I actually wrote in IDIOM. Which makes no sense at all.
- 29D: Disney acronym (EPCOT). "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow." I always forget this is an acronym and think it's somebody's name.
- 42D: Like wind and surf (ERODENT). This one gave me a lot of trouble. I tried EROSIVE and ERODING before I finally got close to the correct answer but didn't know if it should end in ENT or ANT.
- 60D: French iron (FER). Didn't know this one at all (I bet SethG did though!), but it was pretty easy to infer given that many words related to iron start with FER.
Everything Else — 1A: Bring together (JOIN); 15A: Bone, to Benito (OSSO); 16A: Field for bug bugs (ENTOMOLOGY); 19A: Surgical instrument that stops bleeding (HEMOSTAT); 21A: Ice cream choice (QUART); 22A: A, in Arles (UNE); 24A: Modem speed unit (BAUD); 28A: Pope before Paul V (LEO XI); 33A: Bitter outburst (TIRADE); 37A: Baseball stats (RBIS); 38A: Small opening? (MICRO-); 43A: Formed from (MADE OF); 45A: Some MIT grads (EES); 46A: Screams (RIOTS); 48A: Manhattan Project notable (FERMI); 49A: Forward (BOLD); 52A: Earned (WON); 53A: Equally hot (AS MAD); 61A: Scribbles (JOTS); 62A: Scotch part? (PINE NEEDLE); 65A: Bikini component (ISLE); 2D: Apparent (OSTENSIBLE); 3D: Strength-training exercises (ISOMETRICS); 4D: Court plea, briefly (NOLO); 5D: Kids (JESTS); 6D: Necessitate (ENTAIL); 8D: Didactic term of address (SON); 11D: Voiced (ALOUD); 20D: Large number (SCAD); 24D: Quantum physics pioneer (BOHR); 27D: Impetuous (RASH); 32D: Act diplomatically (USE FINESSE); 34D: Spam, at times (EMAIL); 36D: Rich supply (LODE); 39D: 2001 high-tech debut (IPOD); 44D: Clueless, after "in" (A FOG); 49D: Discloses (BARES); 51D: Places for pads (KNEES); 53D: Ancient royal symbols (ASPS); 54D: Crow's-nest sighting (SHIP); 55D: Myriad (MANY); 56D: It covers the 51-Down (MIDI); 57D: Resort NNE of Ventura (OJAI); 59D: __ gratias (DEO).