Looks like we're on a pretty good roll here. I found this puzzle very enjoyable. There were a couple things that you just kinda hate to see, but I think the only one worth mentioning is the random alphabet string, 21A: What U can follow (RST). Yuck. And then there are the two complete and total clunkers. I can't decide if they were bad enough to ruin the puzzle for me. I didn't get to them until the very end so I was quite disappointed, but I don't know. I liked it up until then. What am I talking about? Of course: 31A: Dose people? (DEM) and 26D: Like atolls (REEFY). "Dose people"?? Seriously? That's an awfully awkward path to go down for a word that can be clued pretty easily. And REEFY, well. We can all agree that's ugly, right?
Other than that, though, this seemed like a pretty typical end-of-the-week (themeless) solve for me. Not quite as difficult as a New York Times puzzle, of course — with those I usually feel completely discouraged after one pass through the clues. But tricky enough that it kept my brain cells hopping. I had the most trouble in the NE corner where I plopped in shine for SHEEN (11D: Polish). I got ESTOP and ETHNO- pretty easily (10A: Bar at the bar / 10D: Centric leader) so I thought the 23A: White House nickname might be JOE for Joe Biden, which I thought was a little weird because usually a "White House" clue is referring to a president and not a VP. As it turns out, it's also dumb because, sure, JOE is a nickname, but it's not like he's ever called anything else. I also tried peel for PARE (14D: Skin) at first, so, yeah, it took a while to sort all that out.
The 15s are all really cool:
- 17A: Daydreams (CASTLES IN THE AIR). For some reason, this phrase always always always makes me think of "Islands in the Stream." What the heck is that about??
- 38A: Reaction to a coincidental entrance (SPEAK OF THE DEVIL). Kinda sorta wanted "Look what the cat dragged in," but this is very cool.
- 58A: Declaration that's from hunger (I COULD EAT A HORSE). Ha! I wonder why the clue wasn't simply "Declaration of hunger," but whatever. Still a great entry.
- 1A: "Something's Got a Hold on Me" singer, 1962 (ETTA JAMES). I always like it when a person's whole name is in the puzzle. I feel like I just said that a couple posts ago. … Yep, it was back on May 13 when JET LI was in the puzzle.
- 24A: Musician nicknamed "Sugar Lips" (HIRT). Here's another guy who sometimes gets his whole name in the puzzle. And that's an awesome nickname.
- 36A: Uncle equal? (I GIVE). Did you get this one? It's like how "saying 'uncle'" is the same as saying "I give."
- 42A: Hampshire's home (STY). I hope a Hampshire is a type of pig.
- 55A: "Verily, thou __ God that hidest thyself" (Isaiah) (ART A). I was chatting with a friend who thought this was the worst answer in the grid. I admit, it's not great, but come on! — Verily!
- 63A: Glacial ridge (ESKER). Ne-Ever seen this word before.
- 5D: First name in sci-fi (JULES). As in JULES Verne. Around the World in Eighty Days is a book I've always wanted to read.
- 57D: Land of plenty? (ASIA). Love this clue. It reminds of a clue I saw once for ASIAN: "Like most people." Kinda pulled me right out of my little ethnocentric bubble.
Other crosswordese in this puzzle that we've already covered includes:
- 1A: "Something's Got a Hold on Me" singer, 1962 (ETTA JAMES).
- 8D: Ohio tribe (ERIE).
- 30D: For this purpose (AD HOC).
- 54D: Acropolis sight (STOA).
- 59D: Hal Foster prince (ARN).
Everything Else — 15A: It "ain't what it used to be": Yogi Berra (THE FUTURE); 16A: Birch of "Alaska" (THORA); 19A: Cry of exhilaration (WHEE); 20A: Like an irritated person's teeth? (SET ON EDGE); 27A: Try to jab (HIT AT); 34A: Like the Indian rhino (ONE-HORNED); 40A: Upholstery adornments (TUFTS); 41A: Plant grafting component (ROOT STOCK); 43A: 1966-67 AFL rushing leader Jim (NANCE); 44A: DOJ employee (ATTY.); 45A: 'Enry's abode ('OME); 47A: Ink __: octopus defense (SAC); 49A: Alfalfa locales (HAYFIELDS); 61A: It may be metered (VERSE); 62A: Above (AFORESAID); 64A: Doesn't draw (STANDS PAT); 1D: Inclusive abbr. (ETC.); 2D: Cold war abatement (THAW); 3D: Radio host John (TESH); 4D: Then (AFTER THAT); 6D: Took in (ATE); 7D: Tousle (MUSS); 8D: Ohio tribe (ERIE); 9D: Directed (SENT); 12D: Loathsome sort (TOAD); 13D: Copier insert: Abbr. (ORIG.); 18D: Actionable offense (TORT); 22D: During, old-style (THRO); 24D: Armies (HOSTS); 25D: Data, often (INPUT); 28D: Red head? (INFRA-); 29D: Dakota dialect (TETON); 30D: For this purpose (AD HOC); 31D: Displacement from a club (DIVOT); 32D: Force out (EVICT); 33D: Braves outfielder Cabrera (MELKY); 35D: Blesses (OKS); 36D: They may be checked at the door (IDS); 37D: Be convincing about (GET ACROSS); 43D: Requirement (NEED); 45D: Not worthless (OF USE); 46D: Sebastian Coe, e.g. (MILER); 48D: Sounded amazed (AAHED); 49D: Swarming spot (HIVE); 50D: They can be high or low (ACES); 51D: Walled English city (YORK); 52D: Where cows chow down (LEAS); 53D: Bats (DAFT); 54D: Acropolis sight (STOA); 56D: Under-the-sink item (TRAP); 59D: Hal Foster prince (ARN); 60D: Summer hrs. at MIT (EDT).