Showing posts with label Mark McClain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark McClain. Show all posts

Jun 26, 2020

Friday, June 26, 2020 Mark McClain

Straight Fs

If you've never been able to solve a Friday, today should be your lucky day.

20. Avian athletic contest?: GAME OF FINCHES.

28. Advanced degree for a gemologist?: DOCTOR OF FLAWS.

47. Metropolis, thanks to Superman?: CITY OF FLIGHTS.

57. Flunk out ... and what three long answers do?: GET STRAIGHT FS.

Straight Fs would be bad for your GPA.   No one should flunk out today. 

I always enjoy solving Mark's puzzles.   He's definitely in my top 5 favorite constructors.   Today was no different, and each of the the three theme answers made me smile. 

But IMHO, this was way, way too easy for a Friday.   A scheduling error ?  What do you think ?  Oh, and I'm sorry if I burst your bubble.

I was confounded by the answer to 9D, IN A HUFF.   It obviously doesn't fit with the theme answers of the added F.   The two Fs still gave pause. 


1. President before Wilson: TAFT.

5. Sign of shock: GASP.

9. Classical inspiration for the 2004 film "Troy": ILIAD.   Troy ?   Hello, Irish Miss !   Hope you are feeling a little better. 

14. Another, in Mexico: OTRO.   Fill in OTR and check the perp to decide if it will be A (feminine) or O (masculine).   Oh no !  The perp is also Spanish.   Good thing we all know the Spanish word for bullfighter.

15. __ ID: USER.   You can make your USERIDs complex, but there's no need.   Keep them simple.  Make your passwords complex, and change them frequently. 

16. Chip in a bowl: NACHO.   Doritos Nacho Cheese are favored chips in this casa.

17. Almost at: NEAR.

18. Long vehicle: LIMO.  A conversation starter for your Limo driver ?  It's derived from Limousine.   From Limousin, a region in France.  A Gallic tribe (Celtics on the continent) lived there in the time of Caesar.   They were known as Lemovices, which means "those who vanquish by the elm."  Lemo - elm, and uices - victors.   In the end, their elm bows and lances were no match as Caesar's armies laid siege.  Even though the Roman Army was outnumbered 4 to 1, they won the battle and claimed Gaul once and for all as a Roman province.   If you driver has no interest,  just talk about the weather.

19. It has no subs: A TEAM.   Loved this clue.

23. Like a disciplinarian: STERN.

24. Torque symbol, in mechanics: TAU.

25. RV chain: KOA

33. Ominous: DIRE.

34. Destinies: FATEs.  There were three Goddesses of Fates, as we learned in Steve's write up on June 18th.  They were Clotho the Spinner, Lachesis the Alloter, and Atropos the Inflexible.   Speaking of destinies, the all girl group Destiny's Child consisted of Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams.

35. Push-up targets: PECs.   Pectoral muscles. 

39. Not against the rules: LEGAL.   Licit.

42. Like a hairpin: BENT.

43. Stretched circles?: OVALs.

45. Brewpub array: ALEs

52. Corrida cheer: OLE.  For the torero. 

53. Waze suggestion: Abbr.: RTE.   Waze is a GPS app from Google.

54. Estée Lauder subsidiary: AVEDA.   Never heard of it until solving C.C.'s "Back to Basics" crossword puzzle last Sunday.    She remarked in the review that it is a Minnesota based company owned by Estee Lauder.

62. Problematic bacterium: E. coli.

64. The Mississippi forms its eastern border: IOWA.   And the Missouri forms most of its western border.

65. Northern European capital: OSLO.

66. Singer nicknamed "The Velvet Fog": TORME.   I read that at age 19 he composed the music and co-wrote the lyrics for this song made famous by Nat King Cole.

67. Visible pollution: SMOG.   Fog and then smog ? And ice crystals in the air forming a sundog ?

68. Comics icon Lee: STAN.   Marvel Comics. 

69. Vast chasm: ABYSS.

70. Sun dog, e.g.: HALO.  I believe you pretty much have to be in a colder climate like the northern states or Canada to see these when the sun is at the horizon.

71. Carry: TOTE.


1. Kitchen picker-uppers: TONGs.

2. Patronized, as a diner: ATE AT.

3. Like many museum paintings: FRAMED

4. Corrida star: TORERO.   Bullfight star:  Bullfighter.

5. Wide gap: GULF.

6. "Dream on!": AS IF.

7. Big rig: SEMI.   One of my "other duties" in the Army was driving one of these M818  5 ton tractor trucks.   Mine was a -A2 multifuel with  a ragtop and a semi trailer rather than the lowboy pictured.  10 wheels on 3 driven axles with a lot of torque, and no creature comforts in the cab. 

8. Stat relative: PRONTO.

9. Highly annoyed: IN A HUFF.

10. Having missed the deadline: LATE.

11. Item of hockey equipment: ICE SKATE.  Like some potato chips, one is usually not enough.

12. Cry of discovery: AHA.

13. Champagne title: DOM.

21. Like much '80s-'90s music: ON CD.

22. Half-__: coffee order: CAF.

26. Wilson who voiced Lightning McQueen in "Cars" films: OWEN.  Also the first name of our resident poet and host of Jumblehints Blogspot

27. A new exec may hire one: ASST.   The position title is usually ...

29. Shop __ you drop: 'TIL.   "Honey, look how much money I saved !"

30. Hematite, for one: OREProperties, uses, and occurrence of the most important ore of iron. Among others, ballast for ships, protection from x-rays, and jeweler's rouge.  DNK.

31. Fit for a queen: REGAL.

32. Yellow __: LAB.   The most popular dog in the United States is the Labrador.

35. Somewhat, to Schubert: POCO.    When it came to music, he was anything but poco.   He went full-bore.   One of the most prolific composers of all time.  Schubert only lived to age 31.   Steve had poco yesterday in Joe Denney's puzzle yesterday with the clue [Slightly, in scores].

36. Villainous: EVIL.

37. One in a Trivial Pursuit sextet: CATEGORY.

38. Slick: SLY.

40. Big name in Islam: ALI.

41. KFC selection: LEG.

44. Military pilot's missions: SORTIEs.

46. Heavy carpet: SHAG.

48. NBA foul shots: FTs.  Free throws.

49. Magic charm: FETISH.
   1.  any object believed by some person or group to have magic power
   2.  any thing or activity to which one is irrationally devoted to make a fetish of sports
   3.  Psychiatry any nonsexual object, such as a foot or a glove, that abnormally excites erotic feelings

50. Jay Leno, for many years: TV HOST

51. Starts: SETS TO

55. Key of Chopin's "Minute Waltz": D FLAT.

56. In concert: AS ONE.  Harmony, unity, accord

58. "Slippery" trees: ELMs.

59. Capital SSE of Firenze: ROMA.  Florence  / Rome in Italian.

60. Nowhere to be found: AWOL.

61. "Aladdin" parrot: IAGO.

62. Pilot's approx.: ETA.

63. Corn discard: COB.

Jun 15, 2020

Monday June 15, 2020 Mark McClain

Theme: AFTERSHOCK (64. Earthquake echo, or where the last words of the answers to starred clues might go) - "Shock" can precede the last word of each theme answer.

17. *Price a discarded item might fetch: SCRAP VALUE. Shock value.

27. *Preliminary book copy for editing: PRINTER'S PROOF. Shockproof.

48. *Salon job often shortened to its first four letters: PERMANENT WAVE. Shock wave.

Boomer here.

The Dow Jones average was not SHOCKPROOF last Thursday. We have a new garage door coming Wednesday.  Actually our existing door works fine however we are in a townhome association and it seems most of our neighbors have upgraded their garage doors, so we need to keep up with the Joneses.


1. The "M" in STEM, briefly: MATH.  One of my best subjects. I was always the one to keep the bowling scores.  Yup, I am so old we used to have to write the scores on a paper sheet.

5. Bistro offerings: MEALS.  Still shy of Bistros and the like.  C.C. and I like to visit a buffet once in a while, but not while the Covid-19 is still a threat. I think that's why the stock market crashed.  Some places have opened but the customers are staying home.)

10. Darkened for emphasis, as text: BOLD.

14. New York canal: ERIE.  Also a Great Lake.

15. Quiver projectile: ARROW.  Also a vintage Pierce automobile. Told you I was old.

16. "Buy It Now" site: EBAY.  I used to sell baseball cards and coin proof sets on EBAY.  Not so much anymore.

19. Zonk out: DOZE.

20. Snail's protection: SHELL. Also a gasoline company.  Are they still around?  I don't see Shell stations in Minnesota anymore.

21. Directs: OVERSEES.

23. "__ on Down the Road": "The Wiz" song: EASE.

26. Bus sked info: ETA.  When will I get there?  Last time I rode a bus was when my '81 Ford pickup decided to quit running on Lake Street.  The same Lake Street that is now boarded up.

33. Corp. money exec: CFO.

35. Medical pros: DOCS.  "What's Up??" - Bugs Bunny.

36. Take great pleasure in: SAVOR.  My favorite is pizza.

37. Ship frame: HULL.  The "Golden Jet" Bobby of the Chicago Black Hawks.

39. "__ one is better?": WHICH.  "Which Witch is a good Witch, Dorothy ??"

42. Great Pyramid site: GIZA.

43. Physicist Newton: ISAAC.

45. Surrey slammer: GAOL.

47. Butterfly catcher: NET.  Also a puck catcher.  Ask the Golden Jet.

52. RVer's stopover: KOA.  Nice campgrounds for travelers.

53. Interstate hauler: SEMI.

54. Glam or punk, to rock: SUBGENRE.

59. Cinderella's sweepings: ASHES.  Tobacco Store at Knollwood mall.

63. Horror film assistant: IGOR.

67. Sunscreen additive: ALOE.

68. Stale-smelling: MUSTY.

69. Grape soda brand: NEHI.  I think this was a favorite of Radar O'Reilly.

70. "Well, I'll be darned!": MY MY.

71. "Family Ties" mother: ELYSE.

72. Asian wheat noodle: UDON.


1. Total disorder: MESS.  Minneapolis and other cities witnessed this for several weeks.

2. Word with enemy or rival: ARCH.  The Golden ones sell hamburgers.

3. Grow weary: TIRE.  I have 30,000 miles on mine.  They might be growing weary soon.

4. Shaman, for one: HEALER.  I certainly hope Abejo finds the right one.

5. Dallas NBAer: MAV.  Not to be confused with Bret, played by James Garner.  I told you I was old.

6. Important period: ERA.  Important Stat for MLB pitchers.

7. Woody's singing son: ARLO.  "You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant.

8. Shutter with slanted slats: LOUVER.

9. Sugary goodies: SWEETS.

10. Places to sleep: BEDS.  Places for flowers. We added to the front of our home last week.

11. Flute's orchestral neighbor: OBOE.

12. Lounge (around): LAZE.

13. Hair salon colors: DYES.  Hair salons are not doing too well during the virus.

18. Flannel shirt pattern: PLAID.  I see a bit of this in Scottish bands in parades.

22. Knocks loudly: RAPS.

24. Winter forecast: SNOW.  "Oh the weather outside is frightful, your smile is so delightful."

25. Mark permanently: ETCH.  We had an ETCH A SKETCH when I was a kid,

27. Kind of ice cap: POLAR.  There are ads on TV, which the virus has me watching too much. You can adopt a POLAR bear for only $8.00 per month.  Good grief!

28. Endorse digitally: E SIGN.

29. Cleaner's cloth: RAG.

30. Like sheep: OVINE.  But I don't think you can adopt a sheep.  BAAAH.

31. Move like molasses: OOZE.

32. Greek campus group: FRAT.  I don't think those guys in "Animal House" were Greeks.

33. Short golf shot: CHIP.  Putts are usually shorter.  CHIP was one of  "My Three Sons".

34. Firecracker-lighting cord: FUSE.  Bussmann makes them, Graybar sells them.

38. Perp's escape: LAM.

40. Webber musical based on Eliot poems: CATS.

41. Sewing machine inventor Elias: HOWE.  NHL Hockey great - Gordie.

44. Wedding reception centerpiece: CAKE.  Some of these are really fantastic.  I never know how they build them so high.  I think many folks have the top layer in their freezer, waiting for their 50th Anniversary.

46. Buddhist teachers: LAMAS.

49. Generic: NO NAME.

50. Probably more than you wanted to hear: EARFUL. I was just thinking that this could be an adjective for my blog expo.

51. Hindu deity: VISHNU.

54. Thailand, once: SIAM.  Are you wearing pants??  Yes SIAM.

55. Like eyesores: UGLY.

56. Explosive sound: BOOM.  That would be me.  Born in the Truman administration.

57. Western writer Zane __: GREY.

58. Crafter's website: ETSY.  I wonder if they have ever seen my Boondoggle.

60. Worked the soil: HOED.  C.C. and I did a little while planting our tomatoes, beans and radishes.

61. Cavern phenomenon: ECHO.

62. Largest human organ: SKIN.  I wonder if that includes the skin of my teeth.

65. Sci-fi series extras: ETS.

66. Whiskey grain: RYE.  I like RYE bread.  Doc says no whiskey for me though.


Jun 7, 2020

Sunday June 7, 2020 Mark McClain

Theme: "Case in Point" - Each familiar phrase is humorously clued as if it's law-related.

23A. Bailiff who keeps the jury in stitches?: COURT JESTER.

34A. Music played between attorneys' arguments?: BRIEF INTERLUDE.

52A. Polite argument on behalf of the accused?: CIVIL DEFENSE.

76A. Cartoon dialogue introduced as evidence?: TRIAL BALLOON.

93A. Satisfaction for a prosecuting attorney?: GUILTY PLEASURE.

109A. Action brought by a cowardly plaintiff?: CHICKEN SUIT.
15D. High-hat challenge of a conviction?: SNOB APPEAL

69D. Magistrate who specializes in agricultural litigation?: FIELD JUDGE.

Solid punny theme from Mark. I bet our regulars can come up with more sentence/hearing candidates.

Great grid design as well. Theme entries are spread everywhere. And you won't find strange Abbrs or words in Mark's grids.


1. Jouster's wear: ARMOR.

6. Language of 100,000+ Canadians: CREE. Winnipeg is Cree for "muddy water".

10. "Waterloo" group: ABBA.

14. Jr. challenge: PSAT.

18. Early "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair: COOKE.

19. Got the news: HEARD.

21. Champagne word: BRUT.

22. Toy owner in "Toy Story" films: ANDY. Saw lots of Buzz Lightyear toys at our flea market over the years.

25. Hotel unit: ROOM.

26. Egg-white omelet's lack: YOLK.

27. Close friends, say: DEAR ONES.

28. Dramatic technique: IRONY.

30. "The Sandbox" playwright: ALBEE.

31. Frigg's spouse: ODIN. Or Frigga (Rene Russo).

32. Parade features: FLOATS.

33. Bull alligator sounds: ROARS. Really?

39. Faithful spring?: LEAP. Leap of faith.

40. Pal played her in early films: LASSIE. Pal the dog.

41. Invitation encl.: SASE. Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.

42. First of an alley's 10: HEADPIN. Bowling alleys here have been reopened. 25% of the capacity only. 

45. Tribute creator: ODIST.

46. Palm species: ACAI.

48. Home of the Big 12's Cyclones: AMES.

50. Actress Ward: SELA.

51. "The Great" detective of kid-lit: NATE.

56. Ins. giant: AIG. Founded in Shanghai in 1919. AIA is a subsidiary of AIG.

57. Bar group: DRINKERS.

59. Toyota logo shape: OVAL.

60. Chaucer works: TALES.

62. Prompts on stage: CUES.

63. Steam up: ANGER.

65. Vanishing act word: POOF. PFFT too.

67. Send (to): REFER.

70. Do the crawl, e.g.: SWIM.

71. Cause of ruination: DOWNFALL.

75. Action film shooter: UZI.

81. Garfield's foil: ODIE.

82. Place for a nest: TREE.

84. Vishnu's quartet: ARMS. Can you imagine life with four arms? I'll be so confused.

85. Solemn promise: OATH.

86. Get a hard copy: PRINT.

87. Persian hunting dogs: SALUKIS. Wiki says they hunt "primarily by sight rather than scent".

89. Sing the praises of: LAUD.

91. Turn into cash: REDEEM.

92. Scott in an 1857 case: DRED.

97. Mustard town: DIJON.

99. __ Fables: AESOP'S.

100. Plate crossings: RUNS.

101. Blow a gasket: ERUPT.

102. Justice Kagan: ELENA.

103. Aggressive stingers: FIRE ANTS.

107. __ one's time: wait: BIDE.

108. Tennis great Steffi: GRAF. Happy couple.

112. Links org.: USGA.

113. In __: unmoved: SITU.

114. Spot cost: AD FEE.

115. "Neon" fish: TETRA.

116. After that: THEN.

117. Scientist __ deGrasse Tyson: NEIL. He was the classmate of constructor Andrea Carla Michales at Harvard.

118. Alan in old films: LADD.

119. "My bad, Francesca": SCUSI.


1. Clemson's NCAA div.: ACC.

2. Large cross: ROOD.

3. Pouty face: MOUE.

4. Often-fried veggie: OKRA.Tastes great with bonito flakes.

5. Upgrade technologically: RETROFIT.

6. __ blanc: Loire Valley wine: CHENIN. Not familiar to me. Not a wine drinker.

7. Take exception to: RESENT.

8. Digs in: EATS.

9. Prior to, in verse: ERE.

10. Out of the country: ABROAD.

11. Literary Yorkshire family name: BRONTE.

12. Channel markers: BUOYS.

13. Drive-thru device: ATM.

14. Truckers' cargoes: PAYLOADS.

16. Freud disciple: ADLER (Alfred)

17. Little shavers: TYKES.

20. Goes for oil: DRILLS.

24. Foster with Oscars: JODIE. I've only seen one of her movies.

29. Bounder: ROUE.

30. Tiler's calculation: AREA.

32. Sickly: FRAIL.

34. Flaxen, as hair: BLOND.

35. Speed gauge: RADAR.

36. Question in Matthew: IS IT I.

37. Heart and soul: ESSENCE.

38. Morales of TV's "Titans": ESAI.

39. Not as much: LESS.

42. Female lobster: HEN.

43. "Would __ to you?": I LIE.

44. Pesters: NAGS.

46. Refreshes, with "out": AIRS.

47. Walgreens rival: CVS.

48. Way over yonder: AFAR.

49. Filmmaker Gibson: MEL.

52. So-so mark: CEE.

53. Firm belief: DOGMA.

54. Genesis matriarch: EVE.

55. Town across the Thames from Windsor: ETON.

58. Composer Weill: KURT. Known for "Mack the Knife", which Boomer loves.

61. Makes available to: AFFORDS.

63. Hole-making tools: AWLS.

64. Pen part: NIB.

65. Milne creation: POOH.

66. Control: OWN.

67. Wagon road features: RUTS.

68. Biblical scribe: EZRA.

70. "Cheers" bartender: SAM.

71. URL element: DOT.

72. "Ta-ta, Thierry!": ADIEU.

73. Big ship: LINER.

74. "I can do that": LET ME. I finally planted daikon radishes this year. Hope mine can be as good as these ones in a few months'.

77. Carefully timed operation: RAID.

78. E-file org.: IRS.

79. Awkward sorts: LOUTS.

80. Title for Gaga: LADY.

83. Pole, for one: EUROPEAN. Nice clue.

86. Farm workers of old: PEASANTS.

88. Canterbury's county: KENT.

89. Companion of Dorothy: LION.

90. Camel cousin: ALPACA.

91. O'Connor who played Gabrielle on "Xena": RENEE. Learning moment for me.

93. Italian treats: GELATI.

94. Handy: USEFUL.

95. Selling for, with "at": PRICED. Grape prices are finally down here. Been $3.99/lb for a few months.

96. Waited in hiding: LURKED.

97. First appearance: DEBUT.

98. "Fighting" Indiana team: IRISH.

99. Lofty home: AERIE. So many sticks.

103. World Cup org.: FIFA.

104. Tiny bit of a min.: NSEC.

105. Ballet attire: TUTU.

106. Titles of respect: SIRS.

108. "Family Feud" reruns channel: GSN.

110. "Good" cholesterol initials: HDL.

111. Mai __: TAI.


Dec 24, 2019

Tuesday December 24, 2019 Mark McClain

You Can Bank On It.  The word Bank can follow the first word of each theme answer to give us a new concept.

17-Across. *   Nutrition guide: FOOD PYRAMID.  A Food Bank is generally a non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to those in need.

24-Across. *  Comprehensive personal philosophy: WORLD VIEW.  The World Bank is an international financial institution whose mission is to end extreme poverty and to promote prosperity in a shared way.

34-Across. *   Horse breeder's concern: BLOOD LINE.  The first Blood Bank in the United States was established in 1936.

46-Across. *   Figuratively, whence some unexpected ideas: LEFT FIELD.  The Left Bank,  or La Rive Gauche, is a district of Paris.

And the unifier:
53-Across. 9:00 AM weekday event, typically ... and what the first word in the answers to starred clues can be: BANK OPENING.

1. Drains of energy: SAPS.

5. Pay with a credit card: CHARGE.

11. FDR's successor: HST.  Harry S Truman (May 8, 1884 ~ Dec. 26, 1972) became 33rd President of the United States following the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Jan. 30, 1882 ~ Apr. 12, 1945).

14. Gillette razor: ATRA.

15. Alabama's cross-state rival: AUBURN.  On November 30, 2019, the Alabama Crimson Tide played against the Auburn Tigers in football.  Auburn beat Alabama with a final score of 48 to 45.

16. Par-three eagle: ACE.  The obligatory golfing clue and answer.

19. Big coffee holder: URN.

20. Battery terminals: ANODES.  The Anode is the negative electrode of the battery.

21. Chant for Real Madrid: ¡OLÉ!  ¡OLÉ!   Today's Spanish lesson.

23. Send (to) for treatment: REFER.

27. Disney CEO Robert: IGER.  Roger Allen Iger (b. Feb. 10, 1951) was the President of ABC Television before moving over to Disney.

Mr. Iger is on the left.

28. Cross-shaped Greek letters: TAUs.  I liked how this crossed with 28-Down: New Mexico art colony: TAOS.  The two words differ by only 1 letter.  But that one letter makes a world of difference!


29. Yardstick unit: INCH.  // And 44-Across: Yardstick units: FEET.

30. Grass farm roll: SOD.

31. Truth: FACT.

32. Small boat: DINGHY.  The word Dinghy comes from the Bengali word ḍiṅgi.  It seems to be a generic word that can describe a plethora of small boats.  I'll leave it to our resident seafarer, Spitzboov, provide us with his expertise on all things related to ships and boats.

36. Covent Garden productions: OPERAs.  The Royal Opera House in London is sometimes referred to as Covent Garden, although  Covent Garden  is so much more.

39. Driver's one-eighties: UIEs.
40. Gave birth to: HAD.

43. CBS legal drama "The Good __": WIFE.  I never watched this show, which ran for 7 seasons, from 2009 until 2016.

45. Novelist Caleb: CARR.  Caleb Carr (b. Aug. 2, 1955) appears with some frequency in the crossword puzzles.  He is best known for his novel The Alienist, which I read about 20 years ago.  It was a fascinating book and I really liked the author's style of writing.

49. Mint family herb: THYME.

50. Corkscrew pasta: ROTINI.

51. Rose impressively: SOARED.

52. Big name in ATMs: NCR.  The company formerly known as National Cash Register Company is known for producing Automatic Teller Machines.

56. To this moment: YET.

57. Lacking nothing: ENTIRE.

58. Falco of "Nurse Jackie": EDIE.  Edie Falco (née Edith Falco; b. July 5, 1963) also played Carmela Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos.  I never watched Nurse Jackie, but did watch The Sopranos.

59. Insured investments: Abbr.: CDs.  As in Certificates of Deposit.

60. Ready for more action: RESTED.

61. Run the show: LEAD.

1. African adventures: SAFARIs.

2. In a single try: AT ONE GO.  Not a phrase I would be apt to use.

3. Checked for errors: PROOFED.

4. More glum: SADDER.

5. Little isles: CAYS.

The Tobago Cays

6. "Ben-__": Heston epic: HUR.  The movie Ben-Hur was based on the novel of the same name by Lew Wallace (Apr. 10, 1827- Feb. 15, 1905).   The story line follows the life of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince who was enslaved by the Romans at the beginning of the first century.  He later became a charioteer and converted to Christianity.

7. Org. with many judges: ABA.  As in the American Bar Association.

8. Grapevine fodder: RUMORS.  I initially tried Gossip, which fit into the spaces provided.

9. Barbecue: GRILL.

10. Came to a close: ENDED.

11. Semi activity: HAULING.

12. With 36-Down, nocturnal bird with a shrill cry: SCREECH.  //  And 36-Down: See 12-Down: OWL.

13. Down-for-the-count count: TEN.

18. Part of mph: PER.  As in Miles Per Hour.

22. Like ewe, but not me: OVINE.  Cute clue.

24. City between Austin and Dallas: WACO.  There's lots to do in Waco.  Did you know the city was the home of Dr. Pepper?

25. Best in an épée match: OUT DUEL.  //  And 44-Down. Deceptive fencing moves: FEINTS.

26. Tot's query: WHY?

31. Home of the SEC's Gators: FLA.  The University of Florida's mascot are the Gators.

32. Nutrition regimen: DIET.

33. Officeholders: INs.  Because Elected doesn't fit.

34. One of hockey's Hulls: BRETT.  The only hockey Hull I am familiar with is Bobby Hull (né Robert Marvin Hull; b. Jan. 3, 1939).  Apparently, he is the father of Brett Hull (né Brett Andrew Hull; b. Aug. 9, 1964).  Brett played professional hockey for several teams, including the Calgary Flames and the Detroit Red Wings.

35. Stretched the truth: LIED.

37. Poked a hole in: PIERCED.

See 26-Down.

38. Concerted tries: EFFORTS.

40. Fall outing in a wagon: HAYRIDE.  Are you familiar with the Louisiana Hayride?

41. Country south of Georgia: ARMENIA.  The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian is a fascinating historical novel about Armenia in 1915.

42. Made deeper, as a shipping lane: DREDGED.  Here are some Dredging Projects in Louisiana.

45. Coco of fashion: CHANEL.  Coco Chanel (née Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel; Aug. 19, 1883 ~ Jan. 10, 1971) makes frequent appearances in the crossword puzzles.

47. __ optic cable: FIBER.

48. Completely absurd: INANE.

49. Low digit: TOE.  Funny!  Nice misdirection, but I wasn't fooled this time.

51. Went quickly: SPED.

52. Home of MoMA: NYC.  The Museum of Modern Art is located in New York City.

54. Hobbyist's buy: KIT.

55. Smelter input: ORE.  Smelting is the process of applying intense heat to ore for extracting the base metal.

Here's the Grid:

I wish all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!

QOD:  If you want to be happy for life, love what you do.  ~  Mary Higgins Clark (née Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins; b. Dec. 24, 1927), American author