We stared at two blank squares in the NE for about an hour, and finally gave up. As it turned out, we had one further error that might have been complicating things up there. Frannie knew of the BAOBAB tree (9A: With 25-Across, it has a huge trunk), but had it as BeOBAB, which made figuring out ASA (10D: White sheet insert?) almost impossible. I had even considered that it might be a cryptic-type clue, but just couldn't come up with it. ESSENE (16A: Ancient abstainer) and BECHET (9D: Saxophone great Sidney) were completely unknown to us, and so the E-S just wouldn't come. Couldn't come. Well, maybe the S could've eventually, and maybe we would have tried "Essene" because it sounds like something... but that's a lot of "ifs." I blame it at least a little bit on the fact that we're both somewhat drained by a home renovation project that just began at the end of this past week. But I'm not making excuses, it was a DNF, and that's ok.
On the bright side, VUVUZELA (17A: Buzzer sounded during a match) was pretty sweet, and 1A: Place to pick vegetables (SALADBAR) was clever, as were 40A: Four French quarters (ANNEE) and ICESTORMS (41A: They're likely to result in broken limbs). I love the clue/answer 43A: Claptrap/ROT, and I also like ADEQUATE for 15A: C-worthy. It reminds me of another favorite clue/answer that we wrote about a while ago - "What D means" (POOR).
And speaking of poor, AQUAPLANE? ARNHEM? ELEA? ANTISERUM? (ok, that one was at least a little funny), ALIMENTS? DUZ? ATLI? (We were ready for ATLI this time, but we still don't love it.) OK, OK, we got all of those from crosses, so they were fair game, I guess. And when you're using a ball-winder, are you really knitting? I don't think so. You're preparing to knit, sure, but when I'm filling the tank can I be said to be "driving?"
OK, enough griping. I'm bitter, sure, but there were lots of clever clues in here. It wasn't all bad, it just had two too many things we didn't know.
p.s. Favorite clue: 52A: Vindictive Quaker of fiction (AHAB). Whaa?