Total words: 72 / Total blocks: 35
Average Word length: 5.28
FYI, 72 is the maximum word count allowed for a themeless.
This puzzle is anchored by three triple stacks of 10s in the top right and bottom left corners. A couple of 9s and 8s in Across build up the basic frame work. The Downs are mostly of medium and short length today.
I'd like to guess that the seed word is OPERA HOUSE (16A. Sight from Sydney Harbour). I hope it's a gimme for all of you, since Kazie devoted a whole episode focusing on Sydney Harbour in her Oz trip series.
E is the most used letters in crossword. Today we have 26 Es. S is very common too. 19 in this grid. Definitely not a scrabbly puzzle: no Q, V, X & Z. Still a tough slog for me. The names are killing me!
1. Not clear-cut : GRAY. Gray area. Most of the Saturday clues are "not clear-cut". Drive me nuts!
5. Census bureau, essentially : DATA CENTER. "Essentially" yes.
15. Artist Bonheur : ROSA. French artist. Died in 1899. Way too obscure for me.
17. Harpsichordist Kipnis : IGOR. Total stranger. Do you know anything about him, Jayce?
18. Aerodynamics research tool : WIND TUNNEL. Gimme for Dudley, I am sure. Warren was a pilot too.
19. Cares for : TENDS
21. Beginnings : SEEDS
22. Servers with wheels : TEA WAGONS. Oh, we call them tea carts.
25. Co. whose largest hub is at O'Hare : UAL. United Airlines.
28. Shooting sound : REPORT. Dictionary explain report as "a loud noise, as from an explosion", as in the report of a distant cannon. Learning moment for me.
29. Items in a nautical table : TIDES. Ah, for Spitzboov.
31. Pub employees : BARMAIDS. I only know bartender. Barmaids sounds outdated.
34. Show-off : HOT-DOG
35. Land in un lac : ILE. French. Island in a lake.
36. Lo-__ graphics : RES
37. Vigor : PEP
38. Suffix with string : ENT. Stringent. Even this stumped me.
39. Took off : DOFFED. I need "hat" in the clue.
41. Hands and feet : MEASURES. A foot = 12". A hand = 4". Both are measures. Stymied me.
43. Wind threat : SHEAR. Another aviation term? What does it mean?
44. "Samson Agonistes" dramatist : MILTON (John). All I know about Milton is "Paradise Lost".
45. Indirect route : ARC
46. White Sands and others : TEST SITES
49. Actress Van Devere : TRISH. First encounter with this actress.
51. Beaumont, Texas, university : LAMAR. Peeked at the answer sheet.
53. Old-time educator : SCHOOLMARM. I liked this entry.
58. Mystical amulet : MOJO
59. Where to find waiters : TRAIN DEPOT. Waiters = Those who wait. Not your restaurant waiters. Tricky clue.
60. Replacement for those left out : ET AL. Latin for "and others".
61. Weathers the struggle : SOLDIERS ON. Great fill too.
62. Rink fake : DEKE. Hockey "fake" move. Learned from doing Xword.
1. Abrasive bits : GRIT
2. Subject of Joshua Kendall's "The Man Who Made Lists" : ROGET. Roger's Thesaurus.
3. In unison : AS ONE
4. Spar part : YARDARM. Need our sailor Gunghy's explanation.
5. Stock page name : DOW. Dow Jones Index.
6. Bee: Pref. : API. Only know apian.
7. Stretching muscles : TENSORS. Thought the clue was asking for an ING ending word.
8. Hot-blooded : ARDENT
9. "Gremlins" actress : CATES (Phoebe). No idea. Wife of actor Kevin Kline.
10. Former Israeli prime minister Olmert : EHUD.
11. Judgment for insufficient evidence : NONSUIT. Is this the same as "dismissal', Lemonade?
12. Napa vessel : TUN. Wine cask.
13. Capt.'s heading : ESE. Well, it could be anywhere.
14. Family mem. : REL (Relative)
20. Oath taker : SWEARER. Only one er-ending word today, not bad at all. Our old TMS used way too many ER, RE, ED, S, EST affixes.
23. On foot, in France : A PIED. Literally "on foot".
24. Jupiter and Mars : GODS. Both Roman gods. Gunghy just mentioned yesterday that only planets are named after gods. The moons are named after the lesser characters: Titans, Fates, etc.
26. Scary snake : ADDER. Not "one who adds" ER word. Good.
27. Freetown currency : LEONE. Money unit in Sierra Leone. Freetown is the capital city.
29. Nursery purchase : TOPSOIL. Plant "Nursery", Dummy!
30. York and Snorkel: Abbr. : SGTS (Sergeants)
31. Orders : BIDS
32. Welcoming word : ALOHA. Five letters in Chinese too: Ni Hao.
33. Direct : REFER
34. Qualifying races : HEATS
37. Bombard : PELT
40. Elvis sighting, e.g. : FACTOID. I don't get this clue. Sightings are not really 'facts", correct?
41. Accidents : MISHAPS
42. Not tractable : UNTAMED
44. "Animal magnetism" coiner : MESMER (Franz). No idea. Just learned that "mesmerize" is rooted in his name. Interesting!
46. Symbol of equivalence, in math : TILDE. I don't get this clue either. I learned math in Chinese and I sucked.
47. Fake feelings : EMOTE. "Fake" is a verb here. I was in the adjective direction.
48. Man of letters? : SAJAK (Pat). Host of "Wheel of Fortune". Could be a clue for ROGET (2D) too. He is indeed a "man of letters".
50. Noodle __: old product name : RONI
52. Part : ROLE
53. Houston in NYC, et al. : STS. Houston Streets.
54. Zagreb's land, to the IOC : CRO (Croatia). I pictures a happy smile in Tinbeni. Are girls aggressive there?
55. Holbrook of "Evening Shade" : HAL
56. Eeyore pal : ROO. Kanga's kid in "Winnie-the-Pooh".
57. K2, for one: Abbr. : MTN (Mountain). K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth after Mount Everest. I've never understood what K stands for.
Here is the final installment of Gunghy's bike trip series. Great to finally "see" him in his armor. He has more pictures to share, but I can't carry on due to my lack of time. I'll link once he uploads them to Picasa or some other website.