Now this was a puzzle to love! Pete Mitchell's unthemed puzzle gives us plenty of stacks, both horizontal and vertical, two really clever 15-letter answers, and Scrabbly letters galore!
First, the 15-letter words:
17A: Basis of "America" (God Save the Queen). I guess I didn't realize until I read this that they have the same tune. I do know that Queen plays it at the end of their concerts, although I've never seen them in concert. The Q crosses at 10D: Govt. probe (inq). Hey, that's good enough for me. A Q by any other name would smell as sweet.
55A: Punish publicly, perhaps (make an example of). Not only is it good, check out its crosses:
35D: How some people walk (arm in arm). One of the few answers I had after my first read-through was 45A: Muffin holder (tin), which gave me an I in the right place...on tiptoe worked, for a little while.
36D: Hammer activator (piano key). Got it with only the N in place. Thank you again, tin.
37D: Avalanche setting (Colorado). How many of you thought mountain first? How many of you who live in Colorado did? I'm not even into sports and I got it.
39D: Something taken before practicing (bar exam).
41D: Dough must be squeezed out of them (misers). Excellent. I was thinking of something to do with a pasta machine...
43D: Light up at a dance? (strobe). So very clever, IMOO.
The letter V appears four times in the top three lines. In addition to GSTQ, it appears at:
1A: Actor whom People magazine erroneously declared dead in 1982 (Abe Vigoda). I just loved him as Detective Fish on Barney Miller. He was so grumpy/funny. His V crosses with 4D: Line of motor scooters (Vespa). I know that word from American Graffiti. The nerdy little guy, Terry, rode one.
15A: Persian's gift (nine lives). These clues just keep getting better! We think Dooley must be part cat, because he's already used up three lives that we know of. He seems to have made a complete recovery from the self-induced poisoning, and he survived the 4th of July. Fortunately, no one's setting off anything tonight.
16A: Gull-like (naive).
Several things I didn't know, but I could get most of them from the crosses.
33A: The last novel featuring him was "Stopover: Tokyo" (Mr. Moto). Never heard of the novel or the character.
41A: Cheekbone (malar). It's probably important, puzzlewise, to learn the technical names of the bazillion bones in the body.
60A: Rocker Patty who married John McEnroe (Smyth). Shows what I know...I thought he was still married to Tatum O'Neal.
42D: Distinctive director (auteur). If you don't know about auteur theory, you can read about it here.
Other things I liked:
12D: Get plastered (tie one on), right after 11D: Plaster (daub).
23D: Discards, with "off" (sloughs). I've always liked the word. I think of it in relation to getting rid of dead skin. What else would one slough off? Oh, maybe work, or responsibility of some kind.
25D: Designate (earmark). I would love to know the origin of that expression, but it's getting late. Maybe someone out there knows and would like to share.
37A: "Let's be reasonable..." (come now). What I like is that I got it immediately, and I have no idea why. I have never said either of those things in my life.
It was a bit strange to have a day off in the middle of the week. The downside was that Thursday felt like Monday, and one Monday in the week is enough. The upside, if you followed that train of thought, is that it's already Friday!
Bring on the weekend. Hope yours is a good one.