- 17A: Challenges for an interviewee (LOADED QUESTIONS).
- 25A: Not even close (WELL OFF THE MARK).
- 40A: Journalism bigwig (MANAGING EDITOR).
- 51A: Defied tradition (BROKE WITH CUSTOM).
Every once in a while there's a puzzle where I just can't figure out the theme until I'm completely done with the puzzle and looking hard at the theme answers. This is one of those puzzles. First I tried connecting the ends of the theme answers — QUESTIONS / MARK / EDITOR / CUSTOM — and guess what. I couldn't come up with anything. For some reason. Then I tried the first words instead and still didn't get anywhere. Why? Because I was only reading WELL instead of WELL-OFF and the -OFF part is actually important here. So I can't decide if that's a flaw in the theme that's worth griping about or if it was just me not catching on and therefore feeling stupid. Who knows?
- 5A: Furtive message (MEET ME). Ooh, I like this. Much more fun to receive than the scary "See Me" I used to get from my lunatic boss.
- 15A: First pro team to play on artificial turf (ASTROS). How did I know this??
- 30A: __ the finish (IN AT). That's an ugly partial. See also 49D: "Pay __ mind!" (IT NO).
- 31A: Seventh of eight, now (URANUS). URANUS used to be the seventh planet out of nine. Poor Pluto.
- 59A: Church councils (SYNODS). I learned this word from puzzles a couple years ago and two days later I was sitting at the PuzzleKids' swimming lesson chatting with another mom. I asked her where she worked and she said at the [something-or-other] Synod. Weird.
- 6D: ABA honorifics (ESQS.). Attorneys — members of the American Bar Association — can put an ESQ. at the end of their names if they want.
- 12D: Joan of "Knots Landing" (VAN ARK). Loved that show. I mean loved it. I'm sure I wouldn't be able to stand it today.
- 22D: Womb-mate (TWIN). Not a big fan of this clue. I mean, sure ... not that there's anything wrong with this particular body part it's just that, well, it sounds like a euphemism and: (a) I don't think it needs a euphemism — it's a uterus, call it that; and (b) if you don't think it's appropriate to use the word uterus, then womb really isn't any better. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. It's supposed to sound like "roommate," but I still don't have to like it.
- 27D: Eight-time British Open host town (TROON). Never heard of it. For some reason, PHGOO* didn't help me at all here.
- 28D: Greek leader? (HARD G). I thought the answer to this one might be alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, but it was going for something even more literal than that. I've been catching up on a backlog of puzzles over the last few days and have seen a lot of these types of clues so I'm getting less and less prone to falling for the trick.
- 34D: 1950s Niners Hall of Fame quarterback (Y.A. TITTLE). Only know him from crosswords. He had quite a career — he's a Hall-of-Famer and two-time NFL MVP — but he was just a little before my time.
- 36D: Puppeteer Tony (SARG). Here's another guy I only know from puzzles. Have you heard of him? He is the "father of modern puppetry in North America" after all!
- 48D: Communicate digitally? (SIGN). I knew what this clue was getting at, but I couldn't get my brain to think past ASL (American Sign Language).
- 52D: Magnesium has two (EMS). Ouch.
Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
- 57A: Earthenware pot (OLLA).
- 7D: Case in a purse, perhaps (ÉTUI).
- 23D: Vintner's prefix (OENO-).
- 24D: Outback critter (EMU).
- 35D: Harrow rival (ETON).
*PuzzleHusband's Golf Obsession Osmosis
Everything Else — 1A: Mr. or Mrs. (ABBR.); 11A: New Deal prog. (TVA); 14A: Toon predator __ E. Coyote (WILE); 16A: Used to be (WAS); 20A: Serious religious dissents (HERESIES); 21A: Elite Eight org. (NCAA); 22A: Trinidad's partner (TOBAGO); 24A: Digital greeting (E-CARD); 32A: Japanese drama (NOH); 33A: Bar shot (SNORT); 34A: "May I help you?" ("YES?"); 37A: Neptune, for one (SEA GOD); 39A: It may be raw (DATA); 44A: Goof (BONER); 45A: Kind of will or trust (LIVING); 46A: Greek vowel (IOTA); 47A: "If you ask me ..." ("AS I SEE IT ..."); 56A: It's attractive (MAGNET); 58A: Big name in ice cream (EDY); 60A: Fix up (REDO); 1D: Hole-making tool (AWL); 2D: Many a Britannica article (BIO); 3D: Mindless chatter (BLAH BLAH); 4D: Reacted to giving out too many cards (REDEALT); 5D: Constituted from (MADE OF); 8D: Elder or alder (TREE); 9D: Trunk growth (MOSS); 10D: D.C. setting (EST); 11D: Like some accidents (TWO-CAR); 13D: Longtime Syrian ruling family name (ASSAD); 18D: Consequently (ERGO); 19D: Pizarro victims (INCAS); 26D: Yeasts, e.g. (FUNGI); 29D: M.D.'s specialty (ENT); 33D: Show signs of age, as a roof (SAG); 37D: Weasel (SNEAK); 38D: Listening device (EAR); 39D: ÷ follower (DIVISOR); 40D: Tied in the harbor (MOORED); 41D: 1963 Burton role (ANTONY); 42D: Picks (ELECTS); 43D: "Mon __!": Poirot exclamation (DIEU); 44D: Book read by millions (BIBLE); 47D: Traveling (AWAY); 50D: Get rid of (SHED); 53D: Passè (OLD); 54D: Cultural Revolution leader (MAO).