There weren't very many gimmes in this puzzle...for me, anyway...but one good guess after another and it all came together. All in all, I thought Patrick Berry had a winner with this one.
The few gimmes:
8A: Affecting the heart (cardiac).
18A: Matching accessory for a slicker (rain hat).
21A: "Oh! Susanna" closer (knee).
25A: Grand Lodge Convention attendees (Elks).
37A: Speaks with a pleasing rhythm (lilts).
1D: Radar's radio contact on "M*A*S*H" (Sparky). Good ole' Radar.
4D: First-year men (plebes).
11D: TV host who told views "Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls!" (Dan Rowan)...on Laugh-In, for those of you who were clueless. Between this one and the M*A*S*H clue, I was happy to be as old as I am.
Speaking of clueless, that's what I was with the two long answers. When I read the clue aloud for 46A: He said "How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 kinds of cheese?" Don piped up with Charles DeGaulle...he was guessing, but he was right. That opened things up in the bottom half of the puzzle. And once I had worked a few downs in the top, I was able to get 19A: Traditional Monday meal in Creole cuisine (red beans and rice). That's one of my favorites...they served it at the Soup Kitchen yesterday, and it was absolutely delicious. That's one of the perks of working and/or volunteering there. The cooks (who are all volunteers) make enough to feed everyone, including seconds for guests who want them. It's kind of like the loaves-and-fishes story...there's always enough.
Then there were the other good guesses...mine, not Don's.
2D: Longtime "What's My Line?" name (Arlene).
9D: Playwright Ayckbourn (Alan). Had A*A*, so that seemed logical.
12D: Lying low (in hiding). Love it.
36D: Funny fellow (card).
38D: Dog breed whose name literally means "rather low" (basset). It just sounded right. Mike and Elaine have a basset named Abbott. I haven't met him yet, but we jokingly refer to him as my granddog...and their truck as my grandtruck. We are a sick family.
This is a facsimile...not my granddog.
I loved the seven-letter stacks top and bottom: 1A: Confectioner's offering (sampler), 15A: Item in a 1-Across (praline), 15A: Two-character Mamet play (Oleanna), 17A: Cause of overreactions? (allergy), 50A: Underground nesters (hornets), 51A: Required reading for 007 (dossier), 52A: Offering just the right amount of resistance (al dente), 53A: Wire, at times (antenna), 54A: Give a whirl (test out), and 55A: They hold at least two cups each (tea sets).
Other favorites include 6D: Practice (engage in), 13D: Montana county seat named for a nonnative creature (anaconda), 14D: Hosts' hirees (caterers), 29D: Cocktail party exchanges (idle chat), 30D: Board opening? (nail hole), 31D: Intellectuals' opposites (dullards), 32D: Site site (Internet).
Clever cluing at 23A: Podiatric problem, for some (odor), 26A: Big tier? (twine), 38A: Bundle up (bale) and 39A: Jimi Hendrix's style (Afro)...how many of you were thinking style of music?
A couple of things I absolutely didn't know but got from crosses...33A: 1992 New Hampshire primary winner (Tsongas), 36A: Frequent Styne collaborator (Cahn) and 7D: Noted English portraitist (Reynolds).
Blogger is still giving me fits...for the last two days, I haven't received emails from them when a new comment is posted. I don't know what's up with that. I can always check the current day's post, but if someone is posting at an older (other than the syndicated) puzzle, I wouldn't have a clue. Is that happening to anyone else?
That's it for tonight. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.