Another double quad-stack from Mr. Ashwood-Smith. I suppose it's good to be known for something, but there's also such a thing as over-doing it, isn't there?
The top quadstack was done in less than ten minutes, as we guessed 1A without crosses and got the others very easily, but two "one's" answers in the first four? That's at least one too many. And crossing the quad we have such gems as LETTS (2D: "August Osage County" playwright Tracy) (?), ROMS, OREO, THEE, OLIOS (plural, no less), and THES. Hmph.
After that, things slowed down considerably. It coincided nicely with our drive from Lille to Utrecht, which ground to a complete halt several times, starting around Antwerp, and continuing, for no visible reason, all the way to our destination. When I come to a complete stop on a highway for more than five minutes, I want to see multiple cars on fire or mangled beyond recognition, but these traffic jams had no visible cause. Most frustrating.
But I digress. Let's get back to the frustrating puzzle, shall we? I've taken a lot of Latin recently, and I've heard all about the Battle of Actium and the year of the four emperors, but I don't ever remember hearing the name CASCA (41D: First stabber of Caesar). I was also not familiar with the song "Janie's Got a Gun," (ok, it sounds a little familiar now...) nor did we watch "The West Wing," so that J was not going to come.
The lower quadstack had WISDOMOFSOLOMON (52A: Keen insight, with "the") and ASCENTOFEVEREST (53A: Peak performance in 1953) (Best clue, maybe, but we knew right away what it was about, even though we didn't get the wording immediately), which were both good, but the other two just seemed kind of blah, and again we get lovely crosses like OWAR, STAFFA, and ADOSE.
I don't know, maybe it was the bad day of driving, but this just wasn't to our liking.