It's so neat and orderly! That was my first thought when, after finishing, I noticed that the shaded areas contained all the months in sequence. Kind of amazing, I thought, in a weekday puzzle. It is unfortunate that UPA sits at the very center of the grid, and there are a few oddities elsewhere, but really, the junk is limited.
The calendar is an interesting thing. My favorite effort at dividing the year into days and months is the early Roman calendar of ten months. It started with March and ended with December, so back then, the numeric prefixes for September, October, November, and December made sense. Before Julius Caesar (JULES to his friends) got his hands on it, his month was called "Quintilis." Also at that time, "Sextilis" only had thirty days, but Quintilis became July, and then when Augustus came to power, he wanted a month too, and his couldn't be any shorter than Caesar's, obviously, so Sextilis became August, and it got 31 days too.
But anyway, my favorite thing about the early ten-month calendar was that after December, "winter" was just a long, uncounted string of bleakness. Imagine if January and February were just all one big blur of dark and cold that lasted until the vernal equinox. No wait, that's how it still is! :(
What's that? I'm supposed to be talking about a crossword puzzle? Have you not GLORIED in this NOVEL approach? ...
I liked NEIGHBORS (Fencing partners?), STOOLIE (Informal informant), and NOMADIC (Like a wanderer). The nautical duo of SAILFISH and MARIANAS Trench is nice, and it seemed like I hit a J everywhere I looked. I count only three, but I guess anything more than one (or maybe none) seems like something.
With so much theme to fit into a rigid pattern it almost seems like a stunt puzzle, and thanks to Bruce Haight, I'm perfectly fine with that. :)