Theme: Covert OPs
20A. Hot sauce ingredient : TABASCO PEPPER.
27A. Vox populi : PUBLIC OPINION.
43A. Genre artist of mid-18th century Europe : ROCOCO PAINTER.
49A. Stinger? (and what's literally found in 20-, 27- and 43-Across): UNDERCOVER COP.
I missed Alex's debut puzzle on February 1st, since I was on the beach in Florida with no Wi-Fi. There are not many ways to split a three letter word, but all three phrases are in the lingo, so it felt pretty easy for a Thursday. And even though there were several unknown names, the crossings were all solid. Marti here for your regular Thursday programming.
1. ___-minded : CIVIC. Nice palindromic word.
6. Skating team : PAIR. Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China won the pairs competition at the 2010 Olymics. This is why. Performance around 5:30, then the judging. Total 10:58
10. Strong desire, with "the" : HOTS. What screen idol do you have the hots for?
14. Caught this morning : FRESH. Fresh clue!
15. "Look ___ when I'm talking to you!" : AT ME.
16. Auth. of many snarky blog somments : ANON. Don't feed the trolls.
17. "Scrubs" head nurse : CARLA. Played by actress Judy Reyes.
18. Nurses : SIPS. So was your mind still on Carla?
19. "___ 911!": police series parody : RENO. Never saw the show.
23. Beret-sporting revolutionary : CHE. Guevara.
25. Operation Overlord vessel, for short : LST. Code name for the invasion of Normandy, where many Landing Ship, Tanks were put into service.
26. Concerto standout : SOLOIST. I don't think this one has been linked before. For you, Jazzbumpa!
30. Monstrous : OGRISH. Yes, it's a real word. So is ogrism, which leads me down a whole different path...
31. Off ___: sporadically : AND ON.
32. NBAer who tweeted "I'm about to retire" in 2011 : SHAQ. Shaquille O'Neal. And he did.
33. Wrinkly toy : PUG. Awwww...
34. Silver-tongued : GLIB.
38. No later than : UNTIL.
41. British blame game? : CLUEDO. Never heard of the British version of Clue.
45. Men's department fixture : TIE RACK.
47. Vessel near the desserts : URN. Coffee urn.
48. Droop : SAG.
52. Produced fiction? : LIED.
53. Say and mean : AVER.
54. Slapstick sidekick : OLLIE. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were probably the best slapstick comedy team, ever.
57. "House," in Inuit : IGLU.
58. Suckling spot : TEAT. I feel sorry for the little guys on the bottom.
59. Favors, with "toward" : LEANS.
60. Fanfare : POMP...and circumstance.
61. Woody's son : ARLO.
62. "Tearin' Up My Heart" band : 'N SYNC. They officially broke up about eight years ago, but live on in crosswords.
1. Compound once used as aerosol propellant: Abbr. : CFC. Chlorofluorocarbon.
2. NPR's "Science Friday" host Flatow : IRA.
3. Anatomical column component : VERTEBRA.
4. Land in el agua : ISLA.
5. Dry French wine : CHABLIS. I prefer Sauvignon Blanc.
6. Target in the end zone : PASS TO. Now that Wes Welker has defected to the Broncos, Tom Brady will have to find someone else to PASS TO in the end zone.
7. System ending? : ATIC. Systematic.
8. Eliciting awe : IMPOSING.
9. Plead in court, say : RESPOND.
10. Whaling weapon : HARPOON GUN.
11. Bowler's target : ONE PIN. Boomer!
12. Strengthens : TONES. Does anyone use an XBox for exercising? My personal trainer in the video is a real b*tch...
13. Sound from the bull pen : SNORT. Well, I guess it would depend if they were winning or losing the baseball game...(^0^)...snort
21. "The Nazarene" author Sholem : ASCH. Sholem Asch (1880-1957) seems to have offended Jewish people everywhere with the trilogy, which also included "The Apostle" and "Mary."
22. Belgian prime minister Di Rupo : ELIO. Never heard of him.
23. Coast Guard noncoms : CPOs. Chief Petty Officer (s).
24. Jackman of "Les Miserables" (2012) : HUGH.
28. Sloshed : LIQUORED UP. You should have 18-Acrossed those drinks!
29. São ___ : PAULO.
33. Examine, as produce : PICK OVER.
35. "Game on!" : LET'S PLAY.
36. Coconut product : IDEA. HaHa, "coconut" as a slang term for "head" here.
37. McEnroe rival : BORG. John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg.
39. Tar Heel St. : N. CAR. North Carolina Tar Heels.
40. Improvisational piece : TOCCATA. From the Italian "to touch." Here is a famous one, attributed to Bach.
41. Gideon Fell creator John Diskcon ___ : CARR. Subject of more than 20 detective stories by Carr.
42. Apt vehicle in a presidential motorcade? : LINCOLN. Nice clue.
43. Furniture wood : RED ELM. It is beautiful wood for cabinetry.
44. ___ Rico : PUERTO.
45. Dutch export : TULIP. Tulip service?
46. Covent Garden architect Jones : INIGO. Oh my, I just got INIGO Montoya etched into my brain, and now there's another one?
50. Scaloppine meat : VEAL. I like VEAL piccata, too.
51. Fútbol cheers : OLES.
55. Resting place : INN. "Mausoleum" just wouldn't fit...
56. "I didn't mean to do that" key : ESC.ape. Time for me to slip out the back door. See you next week!