Best puzzle of the week. I didn’t bother to time myself. I had too much going on today, and never had a solid hour to dedicate to the crossword. Started at 10am and finished about six pm. I spent about 80-90 minutes working on it during those hours.
I had my most trouble in the SE. This included three 10-letter horizontal answers: 65A: SKIRESORTS (Gondola settings), I was thinking canals in Venice; 63A: ALTERATION (Bridal shop service); and 60A: GUITARSOLO (Metal staple), I first thought about ores and smelting, but that was all wrong. I twice on the radio today heard Guns n Roses, so they get the headline tribute, with a track that contains three of my favorite metal guitar solos in one song.
My problems in the SE had nothing to do with those clues, though. Really I got off track on a single missed answer, 55A: DEARTH (Want). I had incorrectly completed it as “desire.” With the entire quadrant otherwise blank at that point, and the rest of the puzzle already completed, this put me on a wrong path for quite awhile. The clue that saved me was 56D (Word in many punny Bugs Bunny titles). I thought long and hard on that one, and decided it must be HARE (it was), finally convincing me “desire” was incorrect.
Of no help to me whatsoever were the vertical crossers 42D: EMERITI (Some commencement dignitaries) and 44D: OMEGAS (“w”-like letters in foreign writing). Emeriti was too esoteric for me, and I still don’t know why an omega might be “w-like.”
I finished the puzzle on 46A: SOP (Be all wet) and 46D: SAVOIR (French erudition) — think Savoir Faire — but only after I solved 48D: PYLONS (Detour markers) and 52A: SPACY (Not focused). All of which was greatly helped by my eventual realization of 57A: EVEL (“Being ___” (2015 documentary featuring many wipeouts)).
Evel Knievel was a childhood hero of mine.
I appreciated 35D: HOGWARTS (Where Arithmancy is an elective).
Also liked seeing 31D: JETT (2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee).
I had two problems in the NW, both with misspellings: 1D: GEWGAW (Showy trinket) which I misspelled “googaw”; and 8D: HOORAHS (Shouts of victory), which I incorrectly spelled “hurrahs.” These slowed me considerably, until I correctly resolved 17A: WHOLEFOODS (Trader Joe’s competitor).
Not much trouble in the NE, where I did run into an old friend at 13D: CAROLINE (The “you” in the Neil Diamond lyric “Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you”).
Which is not where I ended the puzzle today, but where we shall end now.