Theme: Never give up. Six symmetrically placed theme entries all begin with synonyms for the key word, TRY
17A. *Prepare to drink, as a can of beer : CRACK OPEN. Have a CRACK at it.
21A. *Say goodbye, quaintly : BID ADIEU. Place one's BID, I suppose. Or issue a command or invitation. Doesn't seem as tight a fit as the others. Am I missing something?
26A. *Betrayal : STAB IN THE BACK. Take a STAB at it.
49A. *Nixed : SHOT DOWN. Have a SHOT at it.
44A. *Do what others prefer : GO WITH THE FLOW. Have a GO at it.
59A. *It involves a lot of writing : ESSAY TEST. ESSAY the possibilities of it.
61A. Synonym for the starts of the answers to starred clues : TRY. If at first you don't succeed,
With six theme answers and a key word entry, this is a very thematically rich and persistently active puzzle.
Hi gang, it's JazzBumpa, your humble trombonist. I BID us to have a STAB at CRACKING this puzzle.
1. Perching on : ATOP
5. Coated with a precious metal : GILT. From 14th Century Middle English, for the color of gold.
9. Hekzebiah Hawkins's daughter : SADIE. From Al Kapp's Li'l Abner comic. Lovely girl.
14. Cotton field sight : BALE. Bales of cotton. My baleful look is because I wanted BOLL.
15. Melville novel : OMOO. Well known to crossword solvers. Has anyone ever read it?
16. Phillips et al.: Abbr. : ACADS. Phillips Academy, a secondary school in Andover, Mass.
19. Revolutionary Pancho : VILLA. Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula, a real person and Mexican folk hero. Like Robin Hood, he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. (See 12D.)
20. Moppets : TYKES. Sometimes they're cute.
23. Affirmative answer : YES. I agree
25. Priest in I Samuel : ELI. Much later, the lesser of two famous siblings.
33. They lack Y chromosomes : WOMEN. But men are willing to share, up to 50 times a day.
34. Agitated speeches : RANTS. Or blog posts. I have a few.
35. GP's soc. : AMA. American Medical Association.
38. Like "Beowulf," e.g.: Abbr. : ANON. Shouldn't this be, like the AUTHOR of Beowulf?
39. Shire horses' burdens : CARTS. I wanted Hobbits.
40. Israeli statesman Abba : EBAN. South African born Aubrey Solomon Meir Eban spent three decades in the Israeli Knesset.
41. When doubled, a number puzzle : KEN. KEN KEN puzzles are almost as much fun as crosswords.
42. "__ Swear": 1959 Skyliners hit : THIS I. THIS I swear. I swear, I could listen to this 50 time as day,
43. Lucky shot : FLUKE. I once sank a long, downhill, curving putt. (For a triple bogey, alas.) That must have been some sort of FLUKE.
47. Recycle receptacle : BIN. We bin recyclin' fer years.
48. "__-haw!" : YEE. Cry of excitement from down on the farm. Perhaps Windhover can elaborate.
54. Caught a few z's : SLEPT. I did that this afternoon. It was good.
58. Itinerant : NOMAD. People who are on the move, rather than settled in one spot. There are estimated to be 30 to 40 million in the world, of three types: hunter gatherers, pastoral nomads, and paripatetic nomads.
62. Be of use : AVAIL
63. Moore of "G.I. Jane" : DEMI. Not a favorite of mine
64. Intro for John? : DEAR. DEAR John letters - long distance breakup notices. Now, just text: "U R DUN!"
65. Ziti cousin : PENNE. Two kinds of pasta pipes.
66. Scoot along, as clouds : SCUD. A SCUD cloud looks dangerous.
67. Showing no sign of slowing down : SPRY. I'm not very SPRY this week. It's the heat. Yeah - that's the ticket.
1. Start of a learning song : ABC. Should need no explanation.
2. Sharp-tasting : TART. Sharp tasting from natural acidity, like baking apples.
And 10. Like orange juice : ACIDIC
3. Skin care brand : OLAY. Oil of OLAY. No bull.
4. Eat like a bird : PECK.
5. Two-time U.S. Open winner Retief : GOOSEN. I have no idea.
6. Little devil : IMP. Typical grandson. and 40. Little trickster : ELF. I thought they made cookies!
7. 1924 co-defendant : LOEB. Very strange case. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks, in an attempt to commit the perfect crime.
8. Singer Braxton : TONI. Seriously beautiful, Multiple award winner, not to be confused with Anthony Braxton.
9. Telly on the telly : SAVALAS. Nice echo clue for Kojak, the lollipop kid. Who loves ya, baby?
11. Spanish surrealist : DALI. Salvador. We see him often
12. Just hanging, so to speak : IDLE. So if we have the IDLE rich . . . never mind.
13. Birthright-for-pottage trader : ESAU. From Genesis. Esau was hungry. Jacob drove a hard bargain. I think it was a bad deal.
18. Enter, as data : KEY IN.
22. Obligations : DEBTS. Pay up! (See 30 D.)
24. The Dardanelles, e.g. : STRAIT. A narrow channel joining two larger bodies of water.
26. Billet-doux letters : SWAK. Sealed With A Kiss. A "billet" is a short note. "Doux" is "sweet." Short, sweet, sealed with a kiss. The very antithesis of a Dear John letter.
27. Work on, as abs : TONE. You might have a GO at it.
28. In the thick of : AMONG. I think AMIDST fits the clue better.
29. 1972 Michael Jackson hit : BEN. I have no recollection of this song, but recognize the melody.
30. Draconian : HARSH. Draco was the first legislator of ancient Greece, who had the laws written on
wooden tablets so they could be openly displayed. Any debtor with lower status than his creditor became a slave. Draconian law included the death penalty for even minor offenses.
31. Thing : ENTITY.
32. Capital WNW of Islamabad : KABUL. The capital and largest city in Afghanistan.
36. Powerful shark : MAKO. I guess.
37. Freshly : ANEW
39. Twilled pants material : CHINO
42. Move about absently, as one's thumbs : TWIDDLE
43. Touchy-__ : FEELY. Based on emotion and sentiment, to the detriment of rational analysis.
45. Get hold of : OBTAIN
46. One half of a tiff : HE SAID. From HE SAID, she said - who can figure it out? Draco, I suppose.
49. Clicking fastener : SNAP. I'm sure it's here somewhere.
50. __ to: halted, nautically : HOVE. Past tense of "heave" to. The sailors here can explain how heaving slows a boat.
51. Asian sultanate : OMAN
52. Gets hitched : WEDS
53. Infinitesimal time period: Abbr. : NSEC. Nanosecond. One billionth of a second. Probably the time frame for something done 50 times per day.
55. Data on airport skeds : ETDS. Estimated Times of Departure
56. Bo follower? : PEEP. She lost her sheep. Windhover - help!
57. Ivan IV, for one : TSAR. The former royal rulers of pre-soviet Russia, Spelt CZAR everywhere but in puzzles
60. Dallas sch. : SMU. Southern Methodist University.
There you have it folks, a fine, dross-free Wednesday offering from Gareth, with a nice mix of the familiar with the not-so-common. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.