Frannie here. I went it alone this morning, as you may have already guessed by the number above. Horace had "other things to do" apparently. It took me quite a while to get the key theme answer because I have not historically classified WARGAMES as a sci-fi drama. That was my first mistake. My last mistake was entering IOWAN instead of IOWAS. The singularity of the clue (53D. Midwest tribe) threw me off. I supposed I should have spent a little more time wondering what A, B and C NTS were in D.C., but truth is, I didn't. The other source of trouble for me was BIREME (43D. Old galley) crossed with 42A. Org. originating the three-point shot (ABA). I wanted the letter B in that cross, but I was not familiar old warships with two decks of oars. After the fact, when you think about "bi" and "reme" it makes perfect sense, but I find that is often the case after the fact.
Puzzle carping does not well suit this season of Thanksgiving, so I turn now to clues and answers I enjoyed in today's grid. I thought the theme answers were quite entertaining. Getting to common military phrases through clever alternate clues was fun. I think my favorite was 34A. Inoculation order? (PRESENTARMS). I thought it was a nice touch that most of the theme clues also had a sort of militaryishness about them, although since they didn't all have it, perhaps I am giving credit where credit isn't due. We have the famed potato of KP duty in 17A, the literal word "order" in 34A, and the command-like nature of 49A. I am unable, however, to identify anything even remotely military about 24A. Ebb tide? Drop and give me twenty, Mr. Maurer!
I thought the fill was relatively clean, given the high number of three-letter pit fall possibilities. One that still confounds me is 48A. LAD mag (Maxim or FHM). Is LAD an acronym? Is that really a name for a type of magazine? Huygens, can you shed any light on this one?
Also in the fun bag were BANISH (5D. Exile), SLITHY (6D. Like the toves in "Jabberwocky"), and SLOG (35D. Tough trek). I surprised myself by getting TRADE (10D. Major League Baseball news) right off the bat, so to speak. FRUIT (30D. Most of the symbols on a traditional slot machine) was also easy as pie. SPITBALL (1D. Wet missile) was less appealing. But, being the 40D. Cool CAT that I am, I'll Give it AREST (20D).