Today's theme revealer is "Kind of beer ... or a multi-word hint to 18-, 22-, 37-, 51-, and 57-Across" (STOUT). To get the hint you have to split STOUT into ST and OUT and interpret it literally, meaning that you have to take "ST" out of five common two-word phrases to get the correct answer. The clue for each is, of course, designed to elicit the amusingly modified answer. The longest theme answer straddles the center of the grid and is very good: "The main characters of 'Brokeback Mountain,' e.g.?" RANGEBEDFELLOWS (initial ST removed). I like to think this is the one that gave the constructor the idea for the theme. Another, ALEMATE, goes nicely with STOUT, but the funniest is EELTRAP ("Way to catch a conger?") Ha!
I got COOPT up for a time in the northeast because I tried 'fraud' instead of ARSON. Two types of crime investigated by an insurance company with the same number of letters is enough to HANOI anyone, don't you think? CORES it is.
"Line crosser, of a sort" (SCAB) and "Bus. driver?" (CEO) were both clever, but my favorite C/AP on the day has to be "Tend to the sauce, say" (STIR). I relished MASSES, OBSESS, and BESOT, and, for other reasons, PROVOLONE.
I also enjoyed a sort of busman's holiday inputting such answers as DATA, ENTER, ESC, TENS, and especially NERD. :)