I'm not sure if this was easier than most Mondays, but I fairly zipped through it...not even reading many of the down clues until after the fact. In some cases, I was guessing the down answer based on the letters I already had. Amazingly, it worked every time.
The theme of the puzzle...revealed at 55A: Object of the actions suggested by the starts of 17-, 30-, 47- and 66-Across (wood) was furniture refinishing. I was impressed that the four steps were in the proper order. The theme answers:
17A: X-rated dance (striptease). That will always remind me of "The Stripper," a #1 song in 1962...and used in a 1967 Noxzema commercial. "Take it off...take it all off."
30A: Beach find (sand dollar).
47A: Initial power source (prime mover). I had never heard the expression...don't know where I've been.
66A: Pinto (paint horse).
I enjoyed seeing both olio (16A: Mixed bag) and oleo (56D: Margarine) in the same puzzle. I hope JimH can tell us if that's ever been done before...I know I haven't seen it.
We don't have a pangram, but there are plenty of Scrabbly letters. Interesting clue at 40A: Rotcut (booze). I particularly love its cross at 34D: Sky-blue (azure). I'm sure I've said before that I have a great-nephew named Azure...and it's the perfect name for him. Check out those eyes. Are the girls gonna love him?
Two long entertainment-related answers...10D: 1990 Macaulay Culkin film (Home Alone) and 37D: Competitor of "The 5th Wheel," in reality TV (elimiDATE). Knew the former but not the latter. Elaine confirmed that I didn't have something wrong there.
I couldn't choose an absolute favorite answer. It's a tie between 31D: Israeli desert (Negev)...I like both the way it looks and the way it sounds...and 46A: __ jacket, 1960s fashion (Nehru). Here's Sir Paul McCartney himself wearing one.
Other favorites, because of clues, answers, or whatever:
1A: Boston orchestra (Pops).
27A: Some Caribbean music (ska).
39A: __ Speedwagon (1970s-'80s band) (REO)...my favorite treadmill CD is their greatest hits.
69A: Ryan of "The Beverly Hillbillies" (Irene). I am extremely embarrassed to say that I watched that show religiously...and I can't for the life of me explain why. But Irene Ryan was a class act.
4D: Slide, as a credit card through a reader (swipe). I still think of swipe as meaning steal, so it sounds strange when they tell me to swipe my card. It's already mine...why would I swipe it?
13D: Cappuccino head (foam). That's one I didn't see until just this moment. Good one.
24D: "Streets of __" (classic cowboy song) (Laredo).
27D: Little rascal (scamp).
32A: Sharp turn on a golf course (dogleg).
48D: Chatterbox (magpie). This was an exceptional weekend at the bird feeders. We had a hairy woodpecker at the feeder for the first time, a small flock of grosbeaks, and chickadees and goldfinches galore. I get so much enjoyment from watching them.
49D: Spoiled (rotten). Why, yes, I am.
This wasn't much of a movie year for me, and I didn't see any of the films that received major Academy Award nominations. I'm renewing my Netflix membership, though, and I'll start adding them as they're available. I've been checking for updates...so far, the hottest dress I've seen was on Renée Zellweger.
That's it for tonight. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.