A theme + some out-of-the-ordinary fill = the acme (10A: pinnacle) of Monday puzzles!
The theme is revealed at 68A: Tiny critters found twice each in 17-, 38- and 60-Across (ants).
And you'll find the ants hiding in the three theme answers:
17A: Operation for a new liver or kidney (ORGAN TRANSPLANT). Always nice to have a long gimme.
38A: Beneficial substance in fruits, vegetables and tea (ANTIOXIDANT). I'm really beefing up my intake of them in an effort to decrease my cholesterol without statins. Definitely lots of blueberries and green tea. Another gimme.
60A: Literary genre popular with women (ROMANTIC FANTASY). That should have been clued "with SOME women." I have never in my life read one. I expect to leave this world without ever having read one. All I could think of was Harlequin romance, and it wouldn't fit...so I needed some downs to get it.
Absolutely loved some of the clues/answers:
11D: Kind of suit (class action). Earlier this year I got a few (48A: Small number) hundred dollars in a class action settlement. Apparently a drug manufacturer had done something to delay the release of the generic equivalent, so I got a refund of a portion of what I paid for the name-brand drug. Woo-hoo!
12D: Street opening for a utility worker (manhole).
25D: "I, Robot" author (Isaac Asimov). I love having his full name in there.
27D: Four (two x two). I'm sure I'm not the only one who was questioning antioxidant at this point.
29D: Key of Saint-Saëns's "Danse macabre" (G minor). I haven't played the piano in months now...thankfully, I still remember the names of chords.
36D: __ gras (foie). I wish it meant "fake grass" instead of "fat liver." That just sounds nasty.
39D: Puffed up (inflated).
41D: Without metaphor (literal).
42D: Mother-of-pearl source (abalone).
The very last square I filled in was the E at the cross of 35A: Swains and 24D: Shade. I even went through the alphabet and couldn't see that they wanted beaus and hue. This was the first puzzle I did online, and I sat for a full five minutes with that empty square staring back at me. I went completely blank on swains, and I was thinking shade...the kind produced by a leafy tree. I ended up printing out the blank puzzle and doing it by hand...then it came to me.
5A: Propel a bicycle (pedal). Don did a 50-mile bike ride this morning, and he did plenty of it. Fifty miles on a road bike isn't bad...fifty miles on a mountain bike is almost unbearable. The man's tough.
Also liked 14A: Hawaii's "Valley Isle" (Maui)...a beautiful place; 20A: Home (in on) (zero); 16A: Linen fiber (flax); 28A: Encourages (eggs on); 8D: "__ it the truth!" (ain't) and 49D: "Streets" of Venice (canals).
Never even saw 45D: 151, in old Rome (CLI), but my Roman numeral knowledge has improved since I started doing puzzles.
Maybe I'm slow, but I don't see how 34A: Beer component is male. I entered hops when I did it online, but that disappeared when I started getting the downs. [UPDATE: Thanks, profphil, for pointing out that it's actually malt. I don't know where my brain was last night.]
That's it for today. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.