Well, this isn't exactly what you'd call spooktacular, but the Halloween theme is among the most clever I've seen.
I'll deviate today by posting the grid at the top, so you can see what's going on. The theme answers contain the letter T--circled in the posted grid. In some of the clues, it stands for TRICK...in the crosses for that clue, it stands for TREAT. It's just too brilliant.
I had the theme cracked at 20A: Professional secrets (TRICKs of the trade). When I tried to read the cross (4D: Stain looseners on washday), I knew where it was going...preTREATments.
27A: Off-site meetings, maybe (reTREATs). I didn't even see this clue. I had 11D: Mid-March honoree as the often-seen ST PAT...it actually is ST PATRICK.
33A: Formal discourse (TREATise), with the best cross of all...33D: Something said while holding a bag (TRICK or TREAT)...which then crosses at 44A: Hockey feat (hat TRICK).
53A: U.N. ambassador under Reagan (Jeane KirkpaTRICK). Couldn't remember her first name, though, and had to rely on crosses. That crosses with 39D: War enders (peace TREATies). Before I realized it was a theme answer, I wanted something that began with CEASE.
65A: Plea (enTREATy)...the toughest one for me...crossed at 49D: Entertainment from a magician (card TRICK).
I need to make this a short post...I got a late start tonight and I have a 7:30 appointment tomorrow. I'll briefly cover the best of the non-theme fill...maybe some of you will chime in with your favorites.
6A: Johnny Fever's workplace, in 1970s-'80s TV (WKRP)...one of my all-time favorite shows.
10A: Amt. at a car dealership (MSRP). A good abbreviation, and not often seen in puzzles. By the way, it's a completely useless number...don't ever pay anywhere near that.
17A: Some horizontal lines (X-axes). Loved it. I think we had axes a couple of weeks ago...as the plural of axis, rather than Lizzy Borden's weapon of choice. If I'm not mistaken, it caused a small stink.
42A: Large, at Starbucks (Venti). I still stumble when I order a drink there. I so prefer our local coffee shop, for many reasons...not the least of which is that their drinks are small, medium and large. This is one of those answers that couldn't have appeared just a few years ago.
47A: Like some old stores (ten cent). Those who didn't remember Bell and Howell yesterday likely won't remember the old ten cent stores...also called the five and dime...or five and ten. When I was a kid, things weren't really ten cents. According to my parents, there was a time when that was the case. We had some great five and tens in downtown West Palm Beach. We used to take the bus (for maybe ten cents) and spend all day shopping and having lunch for just a couple of dollars.
Loved two long answers in the puzzle. 8D: Starboard (right side) and 38D: Like The Onion (satirical).
63A: Honolulu's home (Oahu) makes an appearance two days in a row. I won't bore you with another Oahu picture. Actually, climbing Diamond Head is the only thing we did on Oahu, other than sleep. There's another Hawaii clue in the puzzle...24D: Hawaiian dress (muu-muu). I swore I was going to buy one this last trip, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.
46A: Aussie's neighbor (Kiwi) reminds me of fellow blogger Rex Parker, who often refers to his lovely wife, Sandy, as a Kiwi.
As the wife of a CPA, I had to love 67A: Balance sheet listing (asset)...it's the right thing to do.
Also loved the Scrabbliness of 34D: Having bad luck, say (jinxed), which crosses with both 34A: "Choosy moms choose __" (Jif) and 45A: Some urban legends (hoaxes).
Both the clue and answer at 36D: Spunky (feisty) are favorite words. I've been described as both in the past but haven't felt like either recently.
Which reminds me...I had an extremely high blood pressure reading today. We'll be monitoring it for the next week or so. If it continues, we may need to address it with medication...diet alone hasn't cut it. This getting old is...well, I guess it's better than the alternative. Don often says that we're both too old now to die young.
On that note, I'll wrap it up. See you tomorrow. If you come to my house trick-or-treating, you're guaranteed dark chocolate. If you don't show up...more for me!