Well, the top half of this puzzle had me on the ropes for a while. SLOTCANYON, AIRBAZOOKA, CAMBERS, and NORAD were on the obscure side for this solver. Entering"etd" at 4D (Sched. letters) early didn't help matters. AZARIA was my only confident entry in that quadrant for a long time. I was happy when BRAE (Scottish hillside), an answer I wasn't too sure about, snugged right in. Too much? Maybe I should leave that to the PHOTOBOOTH crowd (Where couples may be seen kissing).
The other problem area for me was kicked off by the tricky 25A. Ham go-with? I wanted Canaan, son of Ham, grandson of Noah, but it turned out to be the more entertaining CAMERA. Go figure. I pretty much had to guess my way down the lower left edge, starting with 25D. "Fruits also known as bottle gourds". CALABASHES exist only at the fringe of my ken. And if I have a ring of knowledge that is even more remote, activist LANI Guinier lives there. And, although for all you sports experts out there, 39A probably went in like a hot knife through butter but for me, "Diamond club" was a tricky clue for BAT. I only just understood it now upon review. Once I worked everything out, I liked it. MONSTERHIT (Mega-seller), HIHO (Cheery cry), ADEPTLY (With skill), and STRODE (Walked confidently) all make for a solid southeast.
Other fun clues include 34A. "Checked out before going in? (CASED) and
My favorite clue/answer pair of the day might be. 38D. "Most easy to walk on" (MEEKEST). Ha!
The clue for 14D. One making deposits in a bank? (SPERMDONOR) is clever, but it may be best not to think too long or hard about that one. Thought about in a certain way, it's possible that one might construct something of a "blue material" mini theme, which could include the above, BED, and LOIN. Oh, NETHER mind.
52D. ___ piece (OFA) was weak, and it was odd to have YOKE and OKE cheek by jowl in the puzzle, but needs must, I suppose. Overall, though, I RATES this one pretty high.