[Write your own "This was the 'Bain' of my existence" joke here.]
A tough, Saturday puzzle. It took the collective concentrated cranial conniving of both of us to finally hammer this thing out today. When Frannie put in CINCO for 2D: Important part of mayo, I had to have her explain to me what she thought she was doing. (I'll give you a hint - months don't require capitalization in Spanish.)
Lots and lots of I's in this puzzle, it seemed to me, and some of them were in very tricky spots. There was one at the end of 43A: Watching the big game, say, and since I had erroneously entered "Tenten" (and "twenty" before that!) for 44D: XX, I was totally stumped by the terrible-looking ONSAt _ _ I. I tried taking out "tenten," and suddenly ONSAFARI became obvious. Niiice. The eventual answer for 44D, FEMALE - was another fun realization. I also enjoyed MAKEME (51A: Defiant response).
There were a few crossword-y answers: RESOW, MIRY, TSP, ARBS, and the claim that a MIATA is a 26D: Mustang competitor, is, I think, specious. The big 15-letter central clue, 37A: Gerontologist's study (THEAGINGPROCESS) seemed a little cruel, since this happens to be my birthday.
I wasn't familiar with SARD (13D: Orangish gem), but the hardest part today, for us, was the SE corner. First of all, CLAMBAR? Really? (59A: Server of food that may be steamed, fried or raw) I've never heard of a clam bar, and I've eaten a lot of clams. Second, EYEWASH? That means 64A: Nonsense? Huh. And then MOW, as 60D: Part of a barn? I suppose I can imagine that mown hay can be called "mow," but is something stored in a barn really a "part of a barn?" Or maybe there's a section of the barn called the mow where such a product is stored? I don't know. Does anyone? [ed. note: Rex Parker apparently looked this up, and it IS a part of the barn where mown hay is stored. Go figure. - H] The last letter in was that W, and we just put it in expecting it would be thrown back at us. It wasn't.
Not my favorite puzzle, but a nicely challenging one, and one with some clever parts.
p.s. Oh! I almost forgot - I liked seeing SNEE listed as 35A: "The Mikado" weapon. I would have preferred "Snickersnee," of course, but one can't have everything, I suppose. This was a timely clue for us, as we are going to see "Utopia, Limited" for the first time today.