Today's puzzle was no exception.
After my initial run-through, I had a handful of answers...23A: Orchestra section (winds), 27A: Consumer protection grp. (FTC), 47A: Parliament rival (Salem)...a wild guess; 26D: Old settings for many out-of-tune pianos (saloons) and 49D: Kind of cycle (lunar). I was on the right track for 10A: Like some seasonal helpers (elfin), but I had elves instead.
Definitely not much of a toehold. I Googled a couple of proper name answers to get a few more blanks filled in, then things starting to fall into place.
I loved the three fifteen-letter stacks that span the center of the puzzle:
32A: It served the Mid-Atlantic until 1976 (Reading Railroad). I wanted this to have to do with some airline, but once I had a couple of letters in place, it was clear that we were on the ground for this one.
39A: Classic laugh-inducing parlor game with writing or illustrations (Exquisite Corpse). I wonder if I'm the only one who's never heard of it. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it.
40A: Move on after a humiliating defeat (count one's losses). The expression I've heard more often is cut one's losses, but this works. I hope we're not doing that after the weekend games.
Horizontal stacks in the northwest include 1A: Billionaire sports entrepreneur wo heads HDNet (Mark Cuban), 15A: Within the next few minutes, potentially (at any time), and 17A: Case made for a shooter (camera bag)...I expected that to have something to do with archery.
In the southeast we have 58A: "You said it!" (don't I know), 63A: Help get settled (orientate), and 65A: What green might ripen into (tomato red)...that's one of those clues that had me tearing my hair out. For that matter, so does the word orientate...it just sounds so wrong.
Two nine-letter vertical stacks in the northeast:
12D: About-faces (flip-flops). I wanted something that sounded very military.
13D: Nervous (ill at ease).
And opposite them in the southwest:
33D: Foreignness (exoticism). I just like the sound of it...maybe because it rhymes with eroticism.
34D: Old Spice alternative (Aqua Velva). There's something about an Aqua Velva man. Now those were great commercials...not like some of the lame ones I saw the last two nights. That's the great thing about not watching television...I don't know anything about current commercials. And I don't think I'm missing anything.
There were so many things I didn't know, but I'll just touch on a few.
25A: Dr. Seuss's "Too Many __" (Daves). That's either very old Dr. Seuss, or one of his later books. Totally unfamiliar to me.
30A: Marathon runner Gebrselassie (Haile). I'm fairly certain I won't remember that the next time it comes around.
14D: Band with the highest first-week album sales in music history ('N Sync). Hard to believe.
29D: Connecticut city on the Naugatuck (Ansonia). I have cousins who live very near there, but I've never heard of it.
46D: Ecuador's southernmost coastal province (El Oro).
These are the kind of clues that drive me nuts. I don't get them at first, but then I figure out where they were going...and then I feel stupid.
55A: Heavyweights compete in it (sumo)...I had rings.
62A: Sent regrets, say (RSVP'd).
2D: Breakout maker (Atari). Oh...nothing to do with zits.
8D: Range option (Amana). Jeez...
45D: One who's waited upon (Godot). Very clever.
I know I'm leaving out some other good ones, but it's time to call it a night. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.