Some may find this theme a bit on the corny side, but I definitely liked this puzzle. Once you caught on, it was a lot of fun (okay, and a lot easier) to guess the rest of them.
But that was part of its charm.
I don't know how to best describe the theme. Surely there's a name for two letters that sound like a word. In any event, the five theme answers are:
17A: Good-looking, briefly (EZ on the eyes). I didn't get this until I had enough of the downs in place to see that it ended with eyes. Then it was just a matter of time.
39A: Oh-so-cute carnival prizes, briefly (QP dolls). Until I was onto the theme, I had teddies. They're cute. And a Q word that isn't followed by a U gets megapoints in my book.
64A: Risky person to do business with, briefly (CD character).
11D: Winter hazards, briefly (IC streets). Once again, BT (before theme), I had ice storms.
32D: Student writing competition, briefly (SA contest).
Despite the fact that they don't rhyme, I loved seeing 30A: Low man (basso) and 46A: "Jerusalem Delivered" poet (Tasso) in symmetrical spots in the grid.
There were several answers I don't recall having seen before...some really good ones.
21A: Like a woodland (forested). A gimme...don't know why.
26A: Thumbscrew ridges (knurls). Words that begin with KN...I mean, does it get any better than that? When we were kids, we purposely pronounced the K. I guess we thought it was cool. I later dated someone whose name began with KN, but he didn't find it amusing.
50A: Fall setting (Eden). Since fall has definitely arrived in this part of Colorado, I was thinking along different lines...probably many of you did the same. Clever clue, though.
52A: Dry rot, e.g. (fungus). It's such a gross word, yet so cool at the same time.
59A: Prayer wheel inscriptions (litanies).
61A: "Oops!" list (errata). The word sounds enough like erotic that I just like it.
71A: Church assembly (synod).
9D: It's too much (overkill).
12D: Hawker's line (spiel). I've never once thought about how that was spelled.
25D: Fair one? (maiden).
40D: Fortress of old (Presidio). I had most of the crosses...not sure I'd have immediately gotten it otherwise.
47D: Possible result of a natural disaster (anarchy). Another good word. Just because it is.
Best different clue for an often-seen word...31D: Shakespeare's "poor venomous fool" (asp).
The only reason I knew 6D: Toby filler (ale) was because I made a Toby mug in a ceramics class 30-some years ago. I've never put ale in it, though...it just sits in a glass cabinet. But it looks good there.
Here's the grid. I had some problems with my scanner tonight, so it came out a bit darker. Not bad...maybe even more readable.
See you tomorrow.