Even with Frannie chatting with me as if I were doing nothing at all over here in my rocking chair, I still zipped through this thing in under twenty, which, for me, is pretty good for a Friday.
I got started quickly with TRACTS (1A: Stretches of land), which seemed a bit, well... plain. I mean, TRACTS is a nice word, but maybe it's a word that can only be clued in an obvious way. Come to think of it, maybe all somewhat fancy words turn out to be gimmes if you know them. Well... wait... I mean, of course they're gimmes if you know them, but maybe it'd be hard to clue TRACT in a way that wasn't a gimme. "Expanses?" "Realms?" are those too obscure? ("Realms" might not be quite right....) But then, STOLID (61A: Wooden) didn't come as quickly, and that's kind of an exotic word, clued in a way that is clear and direct.
But forget all that - I really enjoyed this puzzle. For starters, the grid itself is lovely with its pleasing diagonals and its thick corners. It's only got four three-letter answers, and the worst of those is ESP (9D: "The Dead Zone" ability, for short), and that's perfectly fine. I enjoyed TAZ (22A: Animated devil) which I got instantly, and the cluing on the other two was excellent - 60D: Place to go in London (LOO) and 54A: Bound, slightly (HOP). That's fun cluing.
Just look around at this thing, there's LOTSA interesting, long stuff everywhere. IRONCLAD (59A: Airtight), FAKEDOUT (62A: Had going the wrong way, say), and FLEWSOLO (64A: Acted alone)? - That's a great stack! And how is it held together? With STIFF, CORAL, AWOKE, RENEW, LCDS (ok, one abbreviation, but it, too, is clued well, with "56D: Monitor things, briefly"), the aforementioned LOO, RONPAUL, and TRIEDTO. So-lid. And in the NW and SE, the solid stacks are held together with even longer solid stacks.
LCDS, TORIC, RLESS, and IBID are AOKS with me when it gives us a puzzle as lovely as this. Fine work, Mr. Wentz.