The first puzzle of the month...and a constructor who's not a familiar name. If this is a debut, it's an impressive one.
Tough puzzle. After my first run-through, I had just a few answers:
1A: Temper (assuage). I don't know why I went there instead of thinking about one's temperament, but I did.
17A: Hobbes in "Calvin and Hobbes" (imaginary friend). A good guess and an excellent comic strip...right up there with The Far Side.
23A: Señora's step (paso).
28A: Tahini base (sesame).
34A: With 44-Down, Cajun dish with giblets (dirty / rice). I've never tried it...it just doesn't sound appetizing.
1D: For one (apiece)...only because of the two acrosses I had. They also gave me 2D: Not at all sunny (somber), 3D: Fit to be tried? (suable), 4D: Id output (urges) and 5D: Mordant (acid).
8D: Fred of "The Munsters" (Gwynne).
23D: British meat pie (pasty). That must be one of those words I learned from doing crossword puzzles. It's nothing I ever ate growing up...or in my adult life.
From there I just started going through the across clues again, guessing a few things, going through the downs, guessing a few more. I did end up with some strange-looking answers for some time, but it all worked out in the end.
I did check with Dogpile to see if there was anything else that would work for 25D: Actress Gray and others, but nothing turned up that would fit...except for my first guess, Erin. I remember her from some TV show, and I always thought she was just stunning. Was I right?
Also needed the last name of 25A: Actress Kimberly of "Close to Home" (Elise). It filled in a couple of spots...and things just kept flowing after that.
I had a little trouble with the connected cluing at 19A: Prefix with 6-Down (Penta). That certainly is a prefix, but I was trying to make 6-Down the prefix...and gon just didn't make sense. I finally put it all together.
Favorite clues, answers...or both:
15A: Be negative about (pour cold water on). That's not an expression I've used, but I'm fairly certain I've heard it before. It does look good in the grid.
36A: Subject of some conspiracy theories (Hoffa).
37A: Prez's first name on "The West Wing" (Jed). One of these days I'll get that on DVD. If it's anything like "The American President," I'll enjoy it.
44A: Playboy's plea? (renew).
49A: Stereotypically smarmy sorts (used car salesman). I've known some pretty nice used car salesmen. They do get a bad rap (and rep) often.
51A: Tickled the most? (pinkest). Too funny.
12D: Before being delivered (prenatal).
27D: Make like Pac-Man (chomp).
28D: They're bound to work (serfs).
29D: "Heads up!" (watch out).
30D: It stocks blocks (ice house).
32D: Prepare for a shower, maybe (giftwrap).
45D: Longtime columnist who coined the term "beatnik" (Caen).
There were a few places where I was just lost...and saved by the crosses:
8A: Ape wrestlers (grapple). And I still don't get that. At all.
37D: Basso Hines (Jerome).
42D: Belarus's capital (Minsk). I've seen that again and again, and I still don't ever remember it. Maybe next time.
The worst wrong answer I had was at 29A: Well activity. I had gushing, instead of the correct wishing. We had a well once...it gushed. That wasn't a bad thing.
One more long answer that's worth noting...46A: They're not easily overturned (outrigger canoes).
And that's it for tonight. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.