Words: 64* (missing J,X,Z)
In a word, this one was 'brutal'. Period. Feels like someone used a 15a. on me.... three-fifths of the grid filled, but the NE and SE corners were still blank when I reached my personal allotted time, so I caved and turned on red-letter; still had to play the letter-at-a-time guessing game. Took the fun out of doing the puzzle, for me. I like the challenge, but if you get nothing, then you have nothing to work with. There were answers that were utterly unknown (e.g. 56a.), and others that were vague, but mostly, I just wasn't on Mr. Lim's wavelength - and he is probably the only constructor who has consistently stymied me. Chunky corners of QUAD 8's, which I think led to the very short word count(*) for today, along with a staggered triple 11-letter stack in the middle;
31a. Real time news source : TWITTER FEED - I don't "tweet"
34a. Many a Saudi : SUNNI MUSLIM
35a. Quickly cooked cut : MINUTE STEAK - started with RIB EYE, which was not working with my downs
dOwN ward ;7(
1. Lunch To-Go maker : STARKIST - Stuck on "Lunchables" from Oscar Mayer for the longest time, and that didn't fit; so I took a total (but sensible, considering recent puzzles) W.A.G. at "KITH", which gave me the "K", and an 'a-ha' moment
14. Inherit : COME INTO
15. Boring tool : TREPAN - the pressure-on-the-brain type - not auger or drill, both too short; more on the process here - if you dare~!
16. A vacation often involves one : ROAD TRIP
17. State birds of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin : ROBINs
18. Tony Soprano, for one : ANTI-HERO
19. Navajo relative : APACHE
20. Super Smash Bros. Brawl console : Wii
21. Pole, for one : SLAV - followed up with -->
23. Party person : POL - although this is päl, as in politician
24. Building owner, often : LESSOR - I may be a new "building" owner, if all goes well this summer - my first house~!
28. Air traveler's concern : LEG ROOM - Started with "LAG TIME", but that's not jet-lag; it's the difference between lightning and thunder; primary and secondary earthquake waves, etc.
36. Seawater evaporation site : SALT PIT
37. Brand no one wants : STIGMA - branded as in labeled, not 'name-brand' or 'store-brand'
41. Time of existence : AGE - so my time of existence is 43yrs....
42. "__ chance!" : "NOT A"
45. Poppycock : ROT
46. Prevails in : WINS AT
49. Listing : AT A SLANT - I knew where this was going, but could not get past AT A TILT, which was too short
53. Ocean floor dwellers : OCTOPI - if I had a large aquarium, I'd have me an octopus
54. Payback : REQUITAL - Long "I" sound
55. Like some angels : FALLEN - Blue Öyster Cult has a song by this name
56. Slow-cooking method involving plastic bags : SOUS-VIDE - Here's the Wiki; never heard this Frawnche term for "under vacuum"; I was stuck on "Bag N' Season", and even Shake N' Bake - can you tell I'm a bachelor?
58. Not entirely : IN A SENSE - ugh, I get it, but....
1. Rough writer's output : SCRAWL - I've asked this before, I think; who here is LEFT-handed~!??
2. Multimetallic Canadian coin : TOONIE - tried LOONIE, so good - 86% good
4. Insta- relative : REDI-
5. Cultural group : KITH - OK, who's the person who decided this was the word-of-the-month?
6. Words before a subject : IN RE - Latin, for "in the matter (of)"
7. Arouses : STIRS
8. One-named Tevye portrayer : TOPOL
9. Frame in a photo lab : CROP - frame as a verb here
10. 2000s sitcom set in Houston : REBA - I have seen it in syndication
11. Spenser's "The Faerie Queene," for one : EPIC POEM
12. Its arrival is often celebrated in ritual : MANHOOD - know what I got for my arrival into manhood? Acne.
13. 11th-century Benedictine philosopher : ANSELM - dredged up from the depths of my mind, only after the "----LM" appeared
15. Crosses : TRAVERSES - like an ocean
22. Pribilof Islands native : ALEUT - a W.A.G. that really helped me in the middle
25. Action movie staple : STUNT - I had BOMBS, which worked with my RIB EYE
26. Cop (to) : OWN UP - had ADMIT, worked well with my RIB EYE
27. Shepherd memorably rescued during WWI : RIN-TIN-TIN - ate my RIB EYE
29. F neighbor : G FLAT - music; the "kith" here is D sharp, E, F, G flat
30. Japanese hands-on healing practice : REIKI - there are some classes I know about in my "kith"
32. Pair with : TIE TO
33. Reg. symbols : TMs - registered TradeMarks
34. Without a peep : SILENTLY
35. Like love potions : MAGICAL
36. Shorten, in a way : SAW OFF - Like a shotgun
38. Cooking crust : GRATIN - learning moment; I thought 'au gratin' meant topped with cheese....you could say I was right, 58a-ish
39. One-celled organisms : MONADs - so tempted to go with AMEBAs, but I was too happy with STIGMA to change it
40. Truman's U.K. counterpart : ATTLEE - right name, but I spelled it with a "Y" at the end, which didn't help
43. Tibia neighbors : TARSI (tarsals in the image)
44. Used to hold food : ATE ON
47. Only : SOLE
48. Many an "SNL" performer : APER
50. Color slightly darker than electric blue : AQUA - I found one chart with both colors listed -->
51. Work (out) : SUSS - I did not "SUSS" out enough of this puzzle
52. "To travel is to __": Hans Christian Andersen : LIVE