Theme: ALL THAT BLOWS IS NOT THE WIND. The first word of each theme answer can follow the word BLOW, yielding a common, in-the-language phrase.
17 A. *Bit of formalwear : TOP HAT. To BLOW one's TOP is to get very angry. But nobody could be angered by Fred Astair showing us the entire formal outfit.
18 A. *Interrupt : HORN IN ON. This implies a forceful and unwelcome inerruption or coercion -- or something a trombonist might happily do.
39 A. *Scandal management ploy : COVER UP. You can run, but you can't hide. I'm sure you can think of an example or two. Seems like somebody always BLOWs the COVER, though.
60 A. *Less intense workout after a workout : COOL DOWN. Self explanatory, I hope. After working on my feeble high register, I COOL DOWN by playing low notes. BLOWing one's COOL is similar, but perhaps less severe than BLOWing one's TOP.
11 D. *Psychologically manipulative tactics : MIND GAMES. A series of deliberate ploys planned to achieve some advantage or superior position. To BLOW one's MIND is to make a particularly strong impression.
33 D. *Snoop : NOSE ABOUT. I'm not sure this is a common phrase, but the meaning is clear enough. As for BLOWing one's NOSE - well, it's allergy season, s'nuff said.
And, of course, the unifier. 62 A. Lose when you should have won, and a hint to the start of the answers to starred clues : BLOW IT. But viewed from the other side, it's a clutch come-from-behind victory. It all depends on whose ox is being gored. But why am I thinking about Joe Nathan?
Hi gang, it's JzB, your humble resident trombonist and frustrated Tigers fan, in case you haven't guessed by now. Today we have a very rich and well-executed, perfectly symmetrical theme, with horizontal and long vertical crossing entries. Did it BLOW your MIND? Let's see if I can lead the way through without BLOWing IT.
1. Looking at the stars : GAZING. Astronomy perhaps. Star gazing can also imply absorption in chimerical or impractical ideas, or the quality or state of being absentminded. How do you spend your nights?
7. Dog star's first name? : RIN. RIN Tin Tin. And I'm Sirius.
10. Singing an olde-fashioned love song? : SMIT. Derived from "smite" to strike forcefully - yet another kind of BLOW. Here, pierced by Cupid's arrow -- but --
I've heard of being SMITTEN, but not being SMIT,
There are old-fashioned love songs, but this doesn't quite fit.
So SMIT can be today's odd SMITTEN nit.
14. Saudi neighbors : OMANIS. To the East.
15. Poetic preposition : ERE. I've heard this before
16. Opera set in Egypt : AIDA. Premiered in Cairo in 1871. The story of a love triangle between AIDA, an Ethiopian Princess captured and enslaved by the Egyptians; Ramides, an Egyptian military commander torn between duty and his love for her; and Amneris, the Pharaohe's daughter, whose love for Ramides is unrequited. "In fact, a perfect opera."
20. Wear a long face : MOPE. I have granddaughters who have raised this to the level of high art.
21. Lucrative way for a handicapper's bet to pay off : TENFOLD. A long shot winning at 10-1 odds.
22. Supply with weapons, old-style : ENARM. The erstwhile arms race, as 'twere.
24. Letters for the Queen Mary : HMS. Her Majesty's Ship.
25. Numeral : DIGIT. Any number, suitable for counting on your fingers.
28. Mideast ruler : EMIR.
30. Delaware tribe : LENAPE. Also known as the Delaware tribe. Because of displacements from their native territory along the Delaware River watershed, they are now mainly located in Ontario, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma.
31. "General Hospital" extra, for short : LPN. Licensed Practical Nurse
34. Territory in dispute between Russia and Ukraine : CRIMEA. The OTHER Crimean war occurred from 1853 to 1856. Either way, a sad story.
37. FBI agent : G-MAN. Government Guy.
38. U.N. workers' rights agcy. : I. L. O. International Labor Organization.
41. Memphis-to-Nashville dir. : ENE. East North East.
42. Condé __ Publications : NAST. A mass media company headquartered in New York, and famous for its many magazines. Read all about it.
44. Like Enya's music : NEW AGE. Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin has shown up as fill so many times in puzzles I've blogged. It's refreshing to see her in a clue. As a music genre, NEW AGE is rather bland and amorphous, intended to inspire relaxation, optimism and NEW AGE spirituality, sadly characterized by a conspicuous absence of trombones. It probably will not BLOW your MIND.
45. Emulated Miss Muffet : SAT. On a tuffet. Said Miss Muffet to the Spider: "Get out of my whey!"
46. Vigor : ENERGY.
48. Open carriage : SHAY. It seems this is a back-formation from chaise, taken as plural.
50. Jazz player, briefly : NBA- ER. As you can well imagine, this had me entirely down the wrong track. I hold this fill in the same high regard that I hold NFL-ER, AL-ER, and NL-ER. Which, I suppose, makes me a nitter.
51. "__ seen enough!" : I'VE. Well placed fill, IMHO.
53. Stavros superior, in '70s TV : KOJAK. Another famous show I never watched. But I still know "Who loves ya!"
57. "Star Wars" weapon : BLASTER. Which makes me wonder why the Imperial troopes even bothered with their totally ineffective armor.
59. Mandlikova of tennis : HANA. From the '80's.
64. Molokai neighbor : MAUI. Islands.
65. When repeated, a Kenyan rebel : MAU. The MAU MAUs revolted against British occupation in the 50's.
66. Puccini's "La __" : BOHEME. More opera. It's premier was in Turin in 1896, conducted by Arturo Tuscanini. The Bohemians were the dirty hippies of a by-gone time.
67. Times in the p.m. : AFTS. AFTernoonS. Also, I'm guessing, the best time to go to the back of a boat.
68. Suffix with Canton : -ESE. Food, language, people.
69. Quarters : ABODES. Living quarters, not fourths of things.
1. "I dunno" : GOT ME.
2. "There's __ Out Tonight": 1961 hit : A MOON. When you get tired of Star GAZING, you can go MOONing.
3. Rock legend Frank : ZAPPA. Pappa of Dweezil and Moon Unit.
4. Response from the next room : IN HERE. Where are you, Pappa?
5. Singer Peeples : NIA. Virenia Gwendolyn Peeples is also an actress.
6. Clock-setting std. : G.S.T. Greenwich Sidereal Time. More astronomy.
7. Sew up again : REHEM. A HEM is a narrow cloth edge folded over and sewn to provide a finished look and prevent unraveling. REHEMing a dress or skit would make it shorter. Selena Gomez demonstrates.
8. Presses : IRONS. Next step after REHEMing.
9. Indoor ball brand : NERF. The trademark for this line of polyurethane foam game and play products introduced in 1970 is in all caps.
10. Asea : SAILING. Literally out on the waves. Another frequent filler turned refreshingly into a clue.
12. Words often said in front of a priest : I DO. Not always. We got married in the Courthouse in Dearborn. As it turned out, not the best VENUE.
13. Brown shade : TAN. Can be confusing at times
19. Plant stem joint : NODE.
21. Flourish : THRIVE.
23. DL x IV : MMCC. Erstwhile 550 x 4 = 2200.
26. "Brusha, brusha, brusha" toothpaste : IPANA. Takes me back to my 'ute.
27. Maxim : TENET. Core belief.
29. "The Twilight Zone" plot device : IRONY. In this sense, dashed expectations, often associated with a plot twist.
30. Chuckle : LAUGH. HA!
31. Flax fabric : LINEN.
32. Something to fall back on : PLAN B. If you BLOW plan A.
35. Litter sound : MEW. Kittens.
36. Pencil topper : ERASER. Mistake eliminator. Necessary with Sudoku.
40. Busiest type of season : PEAK.
43. Ivy support : TRELLIS.
47. Alum : GRAD. Alumnus and GRADuate. A former student who made the grade
49. Start of a pirate's refrain : YO HO HO. And a bottle of rum. Absolutely no ice, though.
51. "__ a dark and stormy night ..." : IT WAS. Does any story actually start this way?
52. Locale : VENUE. Place where something happens.
54. Yakked : JAWED. Gabbed.
55. Cartoon genre : ANIME. The concept seems a bit muddled, but I guess I know it when I see it. It can look like this.
56. Beckinsale and Chopin : KATES. Kathrin Romary Beckinsale (b. 1973) is a British actress. Katherine Chopin (nee O'Flaherty, 1850 — 1904) was an American author of short stories and novels.
58. A few : SOME. Not many.
60. Awards often co-hosted by Carrie Underwood: Abbr. : C.M.A. Country Music Awards. No link. I'm not a fan.
62. Mgr.'s degree : B.B.A. Bachelor of Business Administration.
63. Toss : LOB. A soft throw.
We made it. A couple of nits, but nothing to BLOW your COOL over. I had a lot of fun with this one, and hope you did, too.
[Not BLOWN] Cool regards!