I looked at the statistics in my puzzle app today. I am not a fast puzzle solver, but I do seem to be getting faster, which is encouraging. Although, I'm not exactly sure why I want to spend less time on my one puzzle a day. I also noticed that my times show a definite increase across the days of the week. But, in my case, Thursday is my least improved. I should probably have broached this subject on a Thursday, but I don't have any Thursdays left in my current review slot. Come Wednesday, there will be a new sheriff in town. And he's fast. :) Anyhoo, that's not why I called you all here.
There was some good stuff in this puzzle including GOITALONE, OVENREADY, and EXCELSIOR. That's a great word.
In the funny/clever categoire:
5D. "M," e.g. (NASAL) - the capital had me thinking 007 for a while
33A. PAPERY (thin and dry) - nice for Halloweekend
34A. MOONIE - I thought immediately of the movie "Airplane"
56A. TENTDRESS - It sounds frumpy, but I Googled it and some people seem able to pull it off, so to speak.
40D. Enjoy the music, say (GROOVE) - I dig.
43D. It can get the blood flowing (STENT) - Har.
48D. Awards for Best Play and others (ESPYS). At first I entered TonYS. Ha!
52A. LOSEASTEP for "Get older and slower" was apt, sadly apt.
18A. "'The Sound of Music' name" (along with the corresponding downs, obviously) had me stumped for a while. I tried Greta, Liesl (probably not spelled accurately), and Maria, and then I realized it as was a TRAPP. Ha!
I was able to drop ESTES Kefauver right in to 55A because I had just read his name in a "New Yorker" over coffee. Quelle coincidence!
I have played a lot of cards in my time, but never euchre, so 20A (Jack of the trump suit, in euchre) was a no go without crosses. When I got BOWER from the downs, I was intrigued. From the Wikipedia entry for euchre, I learned that euchre "is the game responsible for introducing the joker into modern packs; this was invented around 1860 to act as a top trump or best bower (from the German word Bauer, 'farmer', denoting also the jack)." Fun fact.
Thanks to the interesting grid pattern today, we had only two three letter words. One abbreviation (CWT) and the first name of an actor I've never heard of - my apologies to UGO Tognazzi. Another feature of the grid pattern meant that there were only four squares shared between the corner blocks, essentially creating four small puzzles. Our esteemed co-blogger, Mr. Amory, is not going to like that. :)
There were some entries that I thought came ABEAM. In the humdrum category I suggest 52A. Some old Ford cars, briefly (MERCS), 7D. Echo (REVOICE), and 26D. Markings on a theater stage (TAPELINES). There were also two entries a little out of reasonable USAGE range, IMHO: ARILS and ANTAE.