Gettin' DOWN with John Farmer...what a way to spend a Wednesday evening!
While I managed to figure out that I was dealing with a rebus, I originally didn't limit it to DOWN...had ACROSS in a couple of the squares. When I couldn't make sense of some of the crosses, I finally got it straightened out.
[UPDATE: I didn't really get it straightened out. See JimH's blog for an explanation...and read the right words into the blathering that follows!]
The theme answers...all good ones:
1A: First clue (one D[own]). This was the site of one of my ACROSS mistakes...since I always read 1A before 1D. Its cross at 4D: Jazz/blues monthly (D[own] Beat) was one that didn't make any sense with ACROSS in place.
18A: Spans, as a river (stretches D[own]). Again, stretches ACROSS made perfect sense, although 13D: Hit the skids didn't...until I changed go ACROSS hill to go D[own]hill.
35A: Relocate from one side to the other (move D[own]town). Another ACROSS mistake here...made obvious by 26D: Master (get D[own] pat).
[Well, hell...no wonder ACROSS made sense in so many of the answers!]
58A: Facing one's house from a short distance away, say (D[own] the street), crossing at 39D: Scorn (look D[own] on).
68A: Transect (cut D[own]), with 45D: Inverted (upside D[own]).
I definitely need to brush up on my political facts...couldn't remember 10A: Secretary of state after Muskie (Haig) until I had a few letters in place. In fact, I didn't even remember that Muskie had been a Secretary of State...in Jimmy Carter's cabinet.
I had a minor mix-up with tonight's featured connected cluing...27A: With 22-Across, order at a tiki bar (Mai / Tai). I had them switched, so the crosses were a bit difficult. Once I realized the error, I got 8D: Celt of NW France (Breton) and 11D: Handy guide for a walking tour (area map).
I spent years attending an Episcopal church, so I immediately knew 2D: Church vestibule (narthex)...it looks so good in the puzzle. I also nailed 1D: Faux fat (Olestra). Western Colorado was part of the test market for Lay's fat-free chips made with Olestra. They caused serious gastric distress in some people...I had no problem, though, and thought they were pretty tasty.
I really liked the clue at 21D: A Baldwin. Nope, not Alec or any of his brothers. In fact, it's the only Baldwin I'd want in my house...a gorgeous Baldwin piano.
25A: Ancient square (Agora).
29A: "Coming to America" co-star (Arsenio Hall). I didn't know that but managed to get it with a couple of letters in place.
33A: __ Scamander, pseudonym of J. K. Rowling (Newt). Didn't know that.
39A: Title girl in a 2002 Disney film (Lilo). This was about the time the girls thought they were too old for Disney, so I didn't see it.
52A: Quarterback Rodney (Peete)...only because of crosses.
57A: St. Clare's birthplace (Assisi). We've had this more than once...St. Francis is more well known, but St. Clare holds her own in the New York Times.
63A: City on the Oka (Orel).
64A: Non __ (not so much, in music) (tanto).
7D: Sci-fi debut of 1921 (R.U.R.)...only because I've seen it in a puzzle.
9D: Doha dweller (Qatari).
40D: Like some fertility lab techniques (in vitro)...interesting cross at 51A: Some modern donations (ova).
41D: Hide in a closet? (leather)...probably my favorite clue.
49D: Stab in the back (betray). Eveb when I had BETR*Y, it still took some time to see it.
57D: "This is not __" (warning label) (a toy)...although it should have read "This bag is not __"...
Good one, John. I'm frequently frustrated by rebus puzzles, but I thoroughly enjoyed solving this one.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.