Donna Hoke Kahwaty--I haven't heard the name before, but I think I'll remember it. Her themed puzzle left me puzzled!
I finished it with no major problems (and no Googling!) but it took me at least ten minutes to see--and completely understand--the theme, revealed at 38A: (Ingenuous...or like 17-, 24-, 50- and 60-Across (artless). The four theme answers, each a commonly used expression minus the letters ART, are:
17A: Con man's pay? (sting salary) -- st(art)ing salary
24A: Satan? (he of darkness) -- he(art) of darkness
50A: Slapstick staples? (surprise pies) -- surprise p(art)ies
60A: Parts of dollhouse dinner table settings? (mini glasses) -- m(art)ini glasses
They made sense to me in roughly that order...heart of darkness was actually the first one I understood, although I initially thought we had a rebus on our hands. I've heard Satan referred to as the prince of darkness, so I tried for a while to get PRINC in the first square, but 4-Down just made no sense that way.
In addition to the theme answers, there are four 10-letter answers in the grid, two of which were gimmes.
11D: Jailed (up the river). Most likely without a paddle. Nice tie-in with 10D: Transportation around the Aleutians (kayaks).
12D: Dry season danger (forest fire). That was an answer back when I guest blogged for Rex Parker in April. It started a major discussion about what constituted a shade of green. Anyway, that was one of the gimmes. We live in the desert, get very little rainfall (duh!), and fires are all too common.
29D: Cartoon beeper (Road Runner). Likely a gimme for many of you.
30D: Restaurant companion (dinner date).
Some of my favorites--because of clever cluing, clever answers, or just because:
41A: Joie de vivre (vim). I just love the expression. A couple of weeks after I quit my job at the homeless shelter, one of the guests commented to a staff member that the joie de vivre was missing from the place. That's one of the nicest compliments I've ever received.
49A: Disturbs the peace, in a way (snores). It's clever, but it's really not funny to some of us (wink).
3D: Polish locale (nail). Yeah, I was trying to think of a place in Poland for the longest time.
18D: Symbol of blackness (soot) and 23D: Symbol of whiteness (snow). Very cool, although I wanted coal.
58D: Verbal elbow? (psst). That gets the award for the most clever clue and answer.
61D: "Where did __ wrong?" (I go). It seems we had a rather lengthy discussion on this answer once before...although this was a better clue for it.
62D: Bert Bobbsey's twin (Nan). That's been in the puzzle in the last few months. If we're ever asked about the second set of twins, their names are Flossie and Freddie. They're the blonde twins; Nan and Bert were brunettes. I loved The Bobbsey Twins...and Nancy Drew. I don't know how I feel about a new Nancy Drew. Well, actually, I do. I don't like it at all. It's like Betty Crocker. They should have left her alone. This woman is not Betty Crocker.
That's it for tonight. See you tomorrow.