I think this is the first Tony Orbach puzzle since I've been blogging, but he frequently comments at Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Tony also collaborated with Patrick Blindauer on Rear Axle, which appeared on my birthday/Father's Day...a tough puzzle that was fun to solve.
Today's was tough, and not as much fun for me. There were some great answers, and the clues were appropriate for a Saturday puzzle...but there were so many things that were complete unknowns to me.
Orange had difficulty with this one as well...I know because I finally gave up and checked out her blog to get some answers that I couldn't get from Dogpile.
The best of the best:
8A: Post boxes? (cereals). I don't think of cereal in plural form, but that was my first guess. The ? just put that connection...Post/cereal...in my head.
16A: Piece of silver, say (utensil). That took some time to get because of an error at 13D: Isn't very visible (lies low)...had lays low, so utensil didn't make itself clear.
20A: Many-sided problems (hydras).
32A: Patron of Paris (Genevieve). I didn't know that.
45A: Mother of Hyacinth, in myth (Clio)...and I didn't remember that. I remembered that she was one of the Muses, but not which one.
49A: Slew (passel). I've heard the word used, but I've never seen it in print and thought it would end in -LE. I was pretty sure that 42D: They work the earth (tiller) was correct, though, so I tried -EL.
52A: Touch-related (tactual)...not sensual or tactile, my first and second tries.
53A: Part of a special delivery? (triplet). Good one.
54A: Be quite enough for (satiate)...a word I've always liked.
55A: Amscray (vamoose)...I had get lost for too long.
57A: Give a bad name (slander). Slander is verbal...libel is written. That's still filed away from my years in law.
58A: "On Your Toes" composer (Rodgers).
9D: C2H4 (ethylene). That came together with a few letters in place.
12D: Singer of "A Foggy Day" in "A Damsel in Distress" (Astaire).
22D: Caused to be scored, as a run (drove in).
33D: Big Mac request (no cheese). Does anyone order a Big Mac if they don't want cheese? I have never eaten a Big Mac in my life. Once I saw the calories and fat content (540, 30 grams)...no way. A big slab of something sweet would be worth that, but not a fast food hamburger.
37D: Nearest, to Nero (proxima).
40D: Lessen (assuage).
52D: Peter or Paul, but not Mary (Tsar). I've seen that very same clue before, yet it wouldn't come to me. It didn't help that I had it beginning with SS because of the sensual error...see above.
And now...the many answers that were complete unknowns:
15A: Thinner option (Acutone). Is that something like acetone? Anyway, I was looking for something having to do with being/getting thinner...size six was my first guess. [Update: Oops...it's just like acetone. In fact, it is acetone. I was thinking of a soup tureen for 3D, so spelled it with a U.]
17A: Lab tube (burette). I learned and remembered pipette...now I'll have to remember this one, which will only confuse me in the future.
22A: "Rugrats" baby (Dil). Have never (thankfully) seen Rugrats.
25A: One of the Gandhis (Sonia).
26A: Golden fish stocked in ornamental pools (orfe). I could only think of koi ponds and tried to come up with a plural that ended in E.
27A: Christening spot (prow). I was thinking of a person...that would be head. Prow sounded so foreign last night, but it's sounding familiar now...but I'm still leaving it in this section.
28A: Nottingham's river (Trent). I may have known that at one time, but I will definitely remember it in the future.
38A: Schubert's "Eine Kleine Trauermusik," e.g. (nonet). I've always thought of a nonet in relation to the group, not the piece of music (or number of instruments) that it was written for...duh.
43A: Some apéritifs (Kirs).
50A: Anti-ship missile that skims waves at nearly the speed of sound (Exocet).
8D: Small, deep-fried pork cube (cuchifrito). I guessed the frito part but was clueless about the beginning. Click to enlarge this at your own risk.
49D: __ Nurmi, nine-time track gold medalist in 1920s Olympics (Paavo).
There are a couple of answers that I still don't get. Maybe someone can explain why 18A: A lot of foreign intelligence intercepts is chatter...or 14D: Shooter that may be digital, for short is SLR...or 41D: One using a crib is cheater.
Elaine came into town yesterday, so we'll have some girl time today. We haven't had more than a couple of hours alone since she met Mike, and I'm looking forward to having her here for the week.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.