Ooh...I cringed when I saw David Kahn's name on the byline...and for good reason. My standard performance on a Kahn puzzle is three or four answers after my initial run-through. This one was no different.
I didn't get home from book club until after 9:30, so it was much later when I started solving this. Tired + difficult puzzle = frustration. "Geez," I said to Don, "all I wanted was a nice Valentine's Day puzzle."
I looked at the puzzle again...and saw that I got my wish.
A Valentine rebus. The giveaway answer for me was 39D: Alabama nickname (♥ of Dixie)...crossing at 37A: Intrinsically (at ♥). Once I got that, others became obvious...and the puzzle became less difficult. Not easy, by any means, but at least some of the previously impossible answers began to make some sense.
The other theme answers:
22A: Brave one (lion♥), crossing with 4D: Gave up (lost ♥).
25A: Palm reader's reading (♥line), with 9D: Symbol of generosity (open ♥).
40A: "Listen up!" (now ♥his )...more easily read as "now hear this," crossing with 24D: Depresses (dis♥ens).
42A: Ending with soft or light (♥ed), with 11D: Michael Redgrave war movie, with "The" (Captive ♥).
55A: Was sympathetic (had a ♥), with 56D: Middle of the country (♥land).
58A: Exam measurement unit (♥beat), crossing with 58D: Genuine (♥felt).
65A: Jilter (♥breaker), with 65D: Family gathering places (♥hs).
And if that isn't enough to tickle your fancy...the hearts all form another heart. Nicely done, David.
Favorite clues and answers include 8A: Montmarte : Paris : : Arbat : __ (Moscow), 16A: Place for combs (apiary), 20A: O'Toole of "Cat People" (Annette), 31A: "Well, Did You __?" (Cole Porter song) (Evah), 47A: Like car radios (AM/FM), 51A: "Sesame Street" subject (ABCs), 63A: Revenue worker (tax man), 66A: Familiarize (oneself) (orient), 2D: Cult figure (moonie), 3D: Like some T-shirt designs (iron on), 10D: Fresh as a daisy, e.g. (simile), 13D: __ Accords, 1998 Israeli-Palestinian agreement (Wye), 18D: Three-time U.S. Open champ (Lendl), 27D: Israel's Olmert or Barak (Ehud), 37D: Asian domestic (Amah), 38D: Author Janowitz (Tama), 50D: 2007 Eddie Murphy comedy (Norbit) and 54D: Typical lead-in? (stereo).
I always hate to give a good puzzle short shrift, but it's almost 11:00 and I need to get some sleep. I hope you'll add your comments...what were your favorites?...where did you get hung up?...and anything else you want to say about it.
Happy Valentine's Day. I ♥ (and appreciate) every one of you.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.