It's always nice to see Patrick Berry's name on a puzzle. I feel that he and I are usually on the same wavelength, but today's was a lot harder to get into than his late-week puzzles usually are. I think in my first pass through I put in SIXYEAROLDS (28A: Many first graders), SHAD (38A: Herring relative), AMY (40A: Singer Winehouse), ORIOLE (47A: Bird whose name means "golden"), and ITERATE (48A: Say repeatedly), and tried to work from those. That last, by the way, was one of the first words that I learned through crosswords. I had always heard (and used) "reiterate," but now that I know they mean the same thing, I will only use ITERATE from now on. Who has time for extra letters?
This was made slightly harder by my entry of several incorrect guesses. I tried videoARCADE for PENNYARCADE (14D: Retro amusement center), and was so confused by 17A: Rock music? that I tried stonesSONGS at first (CRADLESONGS).
Lots that I enjoyed in here, too, though. ASIDES (24D: Parts of a rambling oration) and MARMITE (31D: Bread spread whose tagline is "Love it or hate it") were amusingly clued, and who doesn't love EMERALDS (10D: Green valuables)?
1A: Hopes not to be called, say (BLUFFS) - A. This is a solid 1A.
Favorite: 2D: Beat soundly (LARRUP) - Always nice to learn a new word for a whuppin'.
Least: UTES (8D: Runnin' ____ (N.C.A.A. team)) - it's really one of the only pieces of glue.
Many of the longer entries seemed a little bland to me. CRADLESONGS, MEDICALCARE (31A: Treatment), FIRESCREENS (30A: Heat shields, of a sort), HOUSECLEANS (16D: Minds one's place?), even SIXYEAROLDS, are fine, but not much more than that. And besides, aren't most first graders seven? My trick for aging young people is to add six to their grade. Is this not accurate?
But I did like many of the clues, and there's really not much that's actually bad, so I'll give it a thumbs up.
p.s. Take that number above with a grain of salt, because I started this last night on the iPad, and got maybe 20% of it before falling asleep. Then this morning I opened the laptop to look at it again, but last night's answers hadn't made it up to the Cloud, so I had to start over again. I don't know what that really means, in terms of time - but maybe tack on five or ten minutes more.