You know the answer + it just won't fit in the grid = REBUS.
And Alan Arbesfeld gives us a great rebus at that. The theme is revealed at 55A: Special CD release...or a hint to this puzzle's theme (boxed set). The word set appears in four long theme answers, and another in the center of the grid.
17A: Ones with a family connection? (SiameSE Twins), intersecting with 18D: Begin (SET out).
64A: Shrewd bargainers (horSE Traders), along with 65D: Scrap (SET to).
10D: Fail to keep tabs on (loSE Track of), sharing its set with 19A: Takes root (SETs in)
36D: Be very, very sorry (curSE The day). This gets the award for best intersection...at 46A: Much higher than normal (falSETto).
And in the center of the grid, 41A: Former European money (peSETas) and30D: Decimal (baSE Ten).
This was the best rebus I've ever seen, and I say that because it's the first time I figured it out on my own!
For 10D, I had *O**ACKOF, and I was 99.99% sure that it had to be lose track of. I cautiously penciled in set, and everything just started to fall into place. Now I see how you can love a rebus. The aha moments just keep happening, kind of like...well, it was good.
Was totally amazed to see 20A: Straight (hetero). I thought for a minute I was doing the Sun puzzle.
Had never heard of 59A: Punish by fining (amerce). All of the downs were in place, so I knew it had to be right. Doublechecked the old Webster's. Yeah, it's there.
Maybe it's just the brand I wear, but 40A: Hose hue (ecru) doesn't ring true with me. Little Color and Barely There, yes. Ecru, no.
Clever cluing at 23A: It's not forked out (soup), 37A: Await delivery anxiously (pace), 66A: One of a noted nautical trio (Nina), 41A: Hardly a marksman (poor shot), and 61A: Bureau add-on? (crat).
52D: Hardy perennial (peony). Mine have been full of buds for a few days. When I came home this afternoon, there were about a dozen beautiful white peonies on one bush. I planted them in memory of my Dad's brother, who called them pe-OH-nies.
That's it for tonight. Dave (a/k/a evad) is the guest blogger du jour at Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Be sure to check it out.