Theme: OUT OF THIS WORLD. The unifier says it all. 55 A. What 20-, 33- and 40-Across begin with : NASA PROGRAMS. Since 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been responsible for the civilian space program, as well as for aeronautics and aerospace research.
20. Car that replaced the Marquis : MERCURY SABLE. The Mercury Marquis was produced from 1967 to 1986. The SABLE ran from 1986 to 2005, then reappeared in the '08 and '09 model years as the rebranded Montego. NASA's MERCURY program ran from 1959 - 63, playing catch up after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 in 1957, and went on to put Yuri Gagarin in orbit in April, 1961, 9 months ahead of John Glenn, thus beating NASA in this leg of the space race.
33. 1981 Moody Blues hit : GEMINI DREAM.
Project GEMINI included 10 manned flights in 1965 and '66, with the goal of developing space travel techniques to be used in the APOLLO program.
40. Rocky Balboa foe who became his friend : APOLLO CREED. This character is loosely based on Muhammad Ali, fought Rockey in the first two movies, and didn't become his friend until the third.
The APOLLO project ran from 1961 through '72, and included 6 moon landings. The first of these was APOLLO 11. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquility and walked on the lunar surface, while Michael Collins remained in orbit. They returned with 47.7 pounds of samples.
This theme demands a theme song -- so, obviously:
Hi gang. JzB here, flying rather high at the moment. Let's launch into today's puzzle and see if we can soar.
1. Cropped up : AROSE. Figurative, not a launch.
6. "Dark Chords on a Big Guitar" folksinger : BAEZ. Album title, not a song.
10. Alpine transport : T-BAR. Ski lift. T or J - always need a perp.
14. Tester of Job's faith : SATAN. That snake!
15. Uma's role in "The Producers" : ULLA. Ulla Inga Hansen-Bensen-Yanson-Tallen-Hallen-Svaden-Swanson Bloom shows up to audition, long before Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom are ready to start casting. By the end of the show, she and Leo run off to Rio and marry.
16. Spa amenity : ROBE. So you needn't be naked.
17. Agreements from the pews : AMENS.
18. Isl. of Australia : TASMania. N.B. Abrvs
19. Class struggle? : EXAM. Clever clue. School test, not social strife.
23. Approves, in a way : INITIALS. Brief sign-off on some activity.
24. Like a lummox : OAFISH. Clumsy blunderer. Don't be that guy.
28. Six-legged scurrier : ANT. Not at a picnic today.
29. Moderately slow, in music : ANDANTE.
30. Bit of work : ERG. Mechanical work is the application of a force to move an object of some mass through some distance. The erg is a tiny unit, one ten millionth of a Joule. One of my profs jokingly defined it as the work done by one fly doing one push up.
36. Irritate but good : RILE. When I RILEd my father, it was not good.
38. Guggenheim display : ART. The museum, of course.
39. Carpal or tarsal starter : META. METAcarpals are the bones in the hand, METAtarsals are the bones in the foot.
45. Animal house : DEN. Would you see a movie called "DEN?"
46. Boardwalk locale : SEASIDE. I was expecting something more specific, but ATLANTIC CITY doesn't fit.
47. Roy G __: rainbow mnemonic : BIV. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.
49. Thing : ENTITY. Straightforward synonyms.
50. Brown and Green, e.g. : SURNAMES. True, but MEH!
57. One for the road : AUTO. Of course, an auto travels on the road, so - for obvious reasons - this is not a libation. Clever clue.
60. Solo, in a way : STAG. As in going to an event unescorted. After a brief episode, perhaps.
61. "Middlemarch" novelist : ELIOT. Not T. S., but George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, later Marian Evans. Seems to have had a bit of an identity crisis.
62. Industry big shot : CZAR. More often a governemnt agency big shot, but OK.
63. Fish-eating flier : ERNE. The venerable sea eagle
64. __-car : RENT-A. Transportation for hire, that you have to drive.
65. Where the River Liffey flows : EIRE. Or Erin. always need perps
66. Shaggy Tibetans : YAKS. Long-haired central Asian herding bovids. The vast majority are domesticated. The wild ones are at risk.
67. Herd member : STEER. A bull calf that has been neutered. In two to three years it grows to an ox.
1. "Ditto" : AS AM I. Or, colloquially, "ME TOO!"
2. Japanese bowlful : RAMEN. Noodles
3. Cheri of comedy : OTERI. Best known perhaps for her time on Saturday Night Live in the late 90's, but also a veteran of many movies.
4. Inviolable havens : SANCTA. Plural of SANCTUM, a private or holy place. The Free Dictionary approves of this usage.
5. Sequentially following : ENSUING. like night and day.
6. Rubber used in inner tubes : BUTYL. A copolymer of mostly butylene with a small amount of isoprene. It is impermeable to air, and non-resilient. It is also the base for most chewing gum.
7. "There was __, they ca'd her Meg": Burns : A LASS. Love forlorn, alas.
There was a lass, they ca'd her Meg, And she held o'er the moors to spin; There was a lad that follow'd her, They ca'd him Duncan Davison. The moor was driegh, and Meg was skiegh, Her favour Duncan could na win; For wi' the roke she wad him knock. And ay she shook the temper-pin.
8. Movie lioness : ELSA. Not Nala.
9. Big name on the ice : ZAMBONI. The machine that resurfaces the rink between periods of hockey games.
10. Pre-Christmas destination for many : TREE FARM. For the traditionalists.
11. Jack's hiding place : BOX. Until you get him cranked up.
12. Court org. : A B A. American Bar Association. Law, not tennis
13. "Man on the Moon" band : R E M. Very apropos selection by the band from Athens, GA.
21. Give stars to : RATE. Like restaurants and movies.
22. Cheryl of "Charlie's Angels" : LADD. This LADD is a LASS.
25. "__ a drink!" : I NEED. Thirsty.
26. 52-Down, for one : STATE. Of the Union, and the ENSUING but non-seqential
52. Kennebunkport locale : MAINE. City and State
27. Macho dude : HE MAN. Why is there no corresponding SHE WOMAN?
29. Pre-deal payment : ANTE. For a poker game, not a business arrangement. Clever clue.
30. Take off the DVR : ERASE. Remove from the Digital Video Rcorder.
31. Go from green to red, perhaps : RIPEN. As fruit. But, in the case of blackberries, when they're red, they're green. I am not making this up.
32. Rub it in : GLOAT. Being a bad winner.
34. Nutmeg spice : MACE. Inside the fruit of the nutmeg tree is the seed, which is partially covered with a lacy red aril. When dried and ground, the aril is the spice MACE. The seed is the spice nutmeg, also usually used in ground form.
35. Like some vbs. : IRRegular. A verb whose conjugation does not follow the typical patterns of the language is irregular.
37. "Hamlet" castle : ELSINORE. Helsingør is a real place, on the northeast coast of the island of Zeeland in the east of Denmark.
41. "Kiss Me Deadly" rocker Ford : LITA. From 1988, her most successful song. As far as I know, it has nothing to do with the noir movie drama of the same name from 1955.
42. Homeric journey : ODYSSEY. The epic 10-year-long journey of Odysseus [Ulysses to the Romans] returning home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, attributed to Homer, ca. 8th century B. C.
43. River through Spain : EBRO. It flows from the north-east to the southwest, and empties into the Mediterranean Sea.
44. Round-trippers : DINGERS. Baseball slang for home runs.
48. Shakespearean attendant : VARLET. A man or boy acting as a attendant or servant. I thought it was the guy who parked your car.
50. Hit the bottom of : SPANK. A form of corporal punishment in which the buttocks of the penitent are truck, typically with the open hand.
51. Hard-to-ignore impulses : URGES. If not controlled, can lead to SPANKing.
53. Chew the scenery : EMOTE. Overact, ham it up.
54. Red giant : S STAR. Stars are categorized by their spectral characteristics. The S class displays spectral bands from zirconium oxide, among other elements.
56. Gillette brand : ATRA. Mens' razor.
57. Blackjack 11-pointer : ACE. Can be high for 11 points, or low for 1, at the player's discretion. Face cards are 10 each.
58. Israeli weapon : UZI. An open-bolt submachine gun, originally designed by Major Uziel Gal in the late 40's.
59. Pit goo : TAR. Reference is to the tar pits of La Brea, CA. I'll stoke some controversy by contending that La Brea Tar Pit is not redundant because La Brea is a place name, while a tar pit is a thing.
It's been a great week so far. Today, I blogged this out of this world puzzle by Jeff, yesterday we saw my collaboration with C.C, Monday was Gloria's birthday, and on Sunday, I did this. Not a perfect performance, I warbled a few notes, but I'm pleased with it.