A nice, simple, vowel progression starting with M. I actually find this kind of theme quite pleasant. It's not intrusive, it doesn't insist upon itself, and it barely registers until you actually go looking for something. It's maybe a little weird today because the big 15-letter MICKEYMOUSECLUB (37A: People in this may have big ears) could actually work for the "MO," but then it's doubled with MOCASSIN (45A: Sioux shoe). Not a huge deal, but interesting and, well, a little odd, that's all.
I had a very slow start, not getting any of the Acrosses across the top right away. GRUB (1A: Cowboy chow) was not immediately obvious to me. I'm not sure I like the clue for AILS (5A: Distresses). It just seems a little off, and I waited for all the crosses before committing to it. I wasn't sure about JIHAD (9A: Word from the Arabic for "struggle") either, but I liked learning the etymology. Finally, LISA (14A: Simpson who said "Beneath my goody two shoes lie some very dark socks") was a gimme, and I was off to the races.
I enjoyed the clue for LIAR (23A: Pinocchio, periodically), and I liked seeing EEK (43A: "Criminy!") right under "mouse" in the grid, but I really didn't like the clue. Who says "Criminy?" And when they do, do they really mean "Eek!"? I would have thought they'd mean something more like "Oh geez..." but who am I to say, I don't often say "Criminy."
It's funny that AKITA (5D: Japanese dog breed) is in again so soon after Frannie had trouble with it on Sunday. And if I had to guess Rex's "Word of the Day" for today, I'd say it would be BASILISK* (4D: Legendary lizard with a fatal gaze). I've never heard of it, but I'll be looking it up presently.
Finally, I liked DEED (13D: Monopoly card) because I don't often think of the property cards, only Community Chest and Chance, and it took a while to get what I though should be a simple answer.
A nice clean grid, a fair amount of LEAS, EKED, ANEW, REDO - type crosswordese, but nothing too terrible. A fine Tuesday.
* Rex went with KOKO, and he didn't even mention BASILISK. Shows what I know of Rex and his ways. The "Crossword Fiend," however (link on sidebar), calls it the "best word in the grid." That's fine with me, because I tend to agree with her more often anyway.
For those who are interested, the Basilisk is a legendary creature. The name comes from Greek meaning "Little King," and the small snake-like creature was reputed to be king of serpents, and could, as the clue states, cause death with a single glance. One method of killing the creature was to have it look into a mirror, thus killing itself. Wikipedia gives accounts from Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Leonardo da Vinci, among others. The last thing I'll mention here is that it is the guardian creature and traditional symbol of Basel, Switzerland. Fascinating.