I remember a time...not all that long ago...when I wouldn't even notice a theme like this one. I'd be happy becaused I finished the puzzle, then I'd read about the theme on another blog. So I was pretty pleased to catch it after only two theme answers.
The first word of each of the five theme answers are anagrams...and the theme answers are:
17A: Base for turkey stuffing, often (STALE BREAD). Actually, I use cornbread. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, I'll share my recipe.
25A: Leave furtively (STEAL AWAY)...into the night.
35A: What the easiest path offers (LEAST RESISTANCE).
45A: Long-lasting housetop (SLATE ROOF).
56A: Sob stories (TALES OF WOE).
If you've been reading this blog for a month or more, you know that I love anagrams, so I was pretty happy with this theme.
There were just a couple of things I didn't know, but in both cases I got them from crosses:
33D: Painting surface (gesso). According to this article, it's the Italian word for chalk. I'd best remember that in the future.
38D: Annual hoops championship organizer, for short (NCAA). Well, I figured it was National Basketball-something, so I had NBAA. That created a problem, though, because there isn't a rapper named IBET. 42A: "O.G. Original Ganster" rapper (Ice-T) got me out of that hole.
I did like the stacks in the northeast...
10D: Thingamajig (doodad).
11D: Canada's capital (Ottawa).
12D: Snake charmers' snakes (cobras).
...and those in the southwest:
43D: Stack in a kitchen cabinet (plates). Kind of deceptive cluing for a Monday, but I liked it.
44D: "To be or not to be" speaker (Hamlet).
45D: Verdi opera (Otello). That shows up in puzzles from time to time. It's another good one to remember. Another regular is 22D: Carrier to Tel Aviv (El Al).
Also liked 4D: Legendary sunken island (Atlantis), 13D: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" author Ken (Kesey) and 21D: Preferred invitees (A-list).
Time to wrap this up. I have a house full of company, and I want to get back to them. Here's the grid.
Happy Labor Day!