It's not a good sign when I stumble over the first clue on a Monday puzzle. Fortunately, I did better with the succeeding clues, and eventually got the first clue, along with its related last clue.
The theme of the puzzle was BELL RINGERS. The theme answers were:
1A: With 68-Across, bell ringer (Avon/Lady).
The remaining theme answers, all clued as [Bell ringer], were 20A (church warden), 37A (percussionist), and 54A (bicycle rider).
I thought we'd have Quasimodo--the penultimate bell ringer. I imagine that would have been much harder to fit into the grid.
My only struggle with the puzzle was in the northwest corner. I didn't know 14A: Fashion designer Rabanne (Paco) or its cross at the A...2D: Poet Lindsay (Vachel). It didn't help that I didn't know Els at 28A (the first of a two-part clue which appeared at 52A: With 28-Across, winner of golf's 1997 U.S. Open (Ernie). I could have filled in just about any letter in both of those spots.
I had to laugh at 24A: Spouse's meek agreement (Yes, dear)...just because it's such a joke in our house. Don would never say that, except in jest.
Clues and answers that I liked:
15A: Pugilist (boxer). Every time I see that word I think it has to do with stamp collecting. One of these days I'll nail it without a second thought.
19A: Material for Elvis's blue shoes (suede). At the risk of offending anyone, I'll bet those were u-g-l-y.
42A: Inside info for an investor, maybe (hot tip). I could use a few of those to beef up the retirement portfolio.
50A: Kids' game involving an unwanted card (Old Maid). I wonder when that will be given a politically correct name...if ever.
67A: Pop music's Bee __ (Gees). I can't believe I went blank on that. I was trying to think of someone a little more modern. I actually liked the Bee Gees a lot when they were so popular.
9D: Dwell (on) (obsess). I only do that on days of the week that end in Y.
10D: Point A to Point B and back (round trip). I like that we just had Point A as an answer yesterday.
12D: Slugger Williams (Ted). I don't know how I knew non-Yankees back then, but I did.
21D: Honda model (Civic). I bought a 1988 Civic as a new car and drove it until we needed a van. I sold it to a friend's daughter, then bought it back from her two years later when she bought a new car. Three years ago I sold it to another friend, and it's still going strong.
32D: Greek fabulist (Aesop). I loved Aesop's fables as a kid. I'd still enjoy reading them now.
34D: Heartthrob (dreamboat). That's a word we used to describe Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Tab Hunter...and many others. I don't think it would be used to describe anyone today. Orlando Bloom...a dreamboat?
44D: Chinese martial art (tai chi). I've always thought it would be interesting to construct a puzzle that uses tai chi and chai tea as related theme answers. My problem is that I couldn't think of any other word pairs, but I'm sure there are several. If a constructor sees this and wants to run with this suggestion, that would be fine...just include my name in the byline.
47D: "Bewitched" witch (Endora). That was one of my favorite shows. I didn't like it as much after the old Darren left the show, though.
49D: Religious dissent (heresy).
I just noticed the similarity of several down clues...45D: "__ 'em!" (sic), 59D: __ boom bah (sis) and 60D: Lab field: Abbr. (sci).
I need to be in early tomorrow to decorate a co-worker's office, so I'm going to try to get to bed before 10:00. I've been staying up way too late and sleeping through the alarm...that's so unlike me. What happened to the morning person that I used to be?
Anyway, here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.