I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that y'all had trouble with this one. It was hard, right?? I sort of picked and poked my way through most of it and then only had the northeast corner left but it wasn't budging. I set it down for a while — played a little sporcle, read some blogs — and when I went back to it everything fell right into place. That's so cool how that happens.
The biggest problem I had in the northeast is that I assumed 5A: Census bureau, essentially was some kind of COUNTER (I had the TER in place). Makes sense, right? That only left three letters up front though, and MAN COUNTER seemed a little … off. Also, with the ORS in place I wanted FLEXORS for a while instead of TENSORS (7D: Stretching muscles). I was flailing around in the dark is what I'm saying.
Overall, I'd say there's nothing super sparkly about this grid, except maybe SCHOOLMARM, WIND TUNNEL, and MOJO (53A: Old-time educator / 18A: Aerodynamics research tool / 58A: Mystical amulet), and it includes an awful lot of three-letter "words," but nothing jumped out at me as blatantly horrible and when it was all said and done I felt like I'd had an actual workout. And that's a good thing!
Several people tripped me up today. Most of whom I'd never heard of.
- 15A: Artist Bonheur (ROSA). Ringing vague, vague bells.
- 17A: Harpsichordist Kipnis (IGOR). Or maybe those aren't bells, maybe it's a harpsichord. (Seriously? Harpsichordist?)
- 44A: "Samson Agonistes" dramatist (MILTON). Obviously, I've heard of Milton, but the work title didn't do anything for me.
- 49A: Actress Van Devere (TRISH). No bells (or harpsichords) none.
- 51A: Beaumont, Texas, university (LAMAR). Again, back in the cobwebs somewhere.
- 44D: "Animal magnetism" coiner (MESMER). Never heard of him, but now that I've read a little about him that seems awfully weird.
- 22A: Servers with wheels (TEA WAGONS). Of course, I wanted this to be CARHOPS.
- 41A: Hands and feet (MEASURES). Great clue. Reminded me of The Beekeeper's Apprentice (great book!), which I just finished. The characters in that book often talk about weight in terms of "stones."
- 46A: White Sands and others (TEST SITES). I first entered MONUMENTS, which maybe doesn't make any sense to a lot of you — I used to live very near White Sands and was surprised to learn that it is, in fact, a "monument." Obviously not the kind of monument that word generally evokes for me. Or maybe you all knew that already.
- 59A: Where to find waiters (TRAIN DEPOT). Another great clue.
- 2D: Subject of Joshua Kendall's "The Man Who Made Lists" (ROGET). I haven't heard of this book (is it a book? ... yep) but with a couple crosses in place, the answer became clear.
- 11D: Judgment for insufficient evidence (NONSUIT). I thought this was going to be something in Latin.
- 40D: Elvis sighting, e.g. (FACTOID). I recently read something about how the word FACTOID doesn't mean what people usually think it means. That is, it means (basically) "unverified fact" and not "little fact." (I like what this site has to say about the confusion.)
- 48D: Man of letters? (SAJAK). Did anyone else try SUPER here? Whenever I see a question-mark clue with the word "letters" in it, I assume the answer is going to be something about renting (letting).
- 53D: Houston in NYC, et al. (STS.). Another great clue. And one of my favorite streets in New York. Not that I've ever spent any time there, but I love how it's pronounced.
Everything Else — 1A: Not clear-cut (GRAY); 16A: Sight from Sydney Harbour (OPERA HOUSE); 19A: Cares for (TENDS); 21A: Beginnings (SEEDS); 25A: Co. whose largest hub is at O'Hare (UAL); 28A: Shooting sound (REPORT); 29A: Items in a nautical table (TIDES); 31A: Pub employees (BARMAIDS); 34A: Show-off (HOT DOG); 35A: Land in un lac (ILE); 36A: Lo-__ graphics (RES); 37A: Vigor (PEP); 38A: Suffix with string (-ENT); 39A: Took off (DOFFED); 43A: Wind threat (SHEAR); 45A: Indirect route (ARC); 60A: Replacement for those left out (ET AL.); 61A: Weathers the struggle (SOLDIERS ON); 62A: Rink fake (DEKE); 1D: Abrasive bits (GRIT); 3D: In unison (AS ONE); 4D: Spar part (YARDARM); 5D: Stock page name (DOW); 6D: Bee: Pref. (API-); 8D: Hot-blooded (ARDENT); 9D: "Gremlins" actress (CATES); 10D: Former Israeli prime minister Olmert (EHUD); 12D: Napa vessel (TUN); 13D: Capt.'s heading (ESE); 14D: Family mem. (REL.); 20D: Oath taker (SWEARER); 23D: On foot, in France (À PIED); 24D: Jupiter and Mars (GODS); 26D: Scary snake (ADDER); 27D: Freetown currency (LEONE); 29D: Nursery purchase (TOPSOIL); 30D: York and Snorkel: Abbr. (SGTS.); 31D: Orders (BIDS); 32D: Welcoming word (ALOHA); 33D: Direct (REFER); 34D: Qualifying races (HEATS); 37D: Bombard (PELT); 41D: Accidents (MISHAPS); 42D: Not tractable (UNTAMED); 46D: Symbol of equivalence, in math (TILDE); 47D: Fake feelings (EMOTE); 50D: Noodle __: old product name (RONI); 52D: Part (ROLE); 54D: Zagreb's land, to the IOC (CRO); 55D: Holbrook of "Evening Shade" (HAL); 56D: Eeyore pal (ROO); 57D: K2, for one: Abbr. (MTN.).