This is the fourth time we've seen my old friend/nemesis David Steinberg in as many months, but it's the first time we've met up with him on a day other than Saturday. This played a little tougher than some Thursdays, but we finished in under an hour, so it was definitely easier than the last three.
I liked it from the first clue 1A: Rowdydow (ADO) (I immediately wanted "to do," but it wouldn't fit), which I didn't know immediately, but which was inferrable once we got the D off of DIAZ (2D: "Bad Teacher" star, 2011). After that, though, the NW stayed unfinished right up until the very end. That was at least in part due to my errant "dAyTRIPS" entry for 17A: *Some vacation travel. It took us longer than it should have to figure out the fairly straightforward theme of "window" starters, and when we finally did, it was changed to CARTRIPS, and then RIG (14A: Fix)(always a tough clue), OGRE (3D: "Hop-o'-My-Thumb" figure)(?), and ARC (1D: Tangent starter?) (I guess because a tangent is made up of a line and an arc?... no, maybe it's "arctangent") finally fell into place. Whew!
Lots of other tricky and fun clues in this one. I always enjoy internal pairs, or whatever you want to call them, in the clues, like 5D: and 18D: Virginia ____, and 14A: Fix, 8D: ____ fixes (IDEES), and 9D: Fix, in a way, as golf clubs (REGRIP). And the internal rhyme of PUFF and BUFF was another nice touch. And I suppose you could also pair 63A: Acts the curmudgeon (GRIPES) with SARTRE's great quote from "Huis Clos:" "L'enfer, c'est les autres." (58A: He wrote "Hell is other people.") Frannie and I have been known to cite this line from time to time.
My favorite clue might have been 6D: *What makes bread rise? (POPUPTOASTER), but 20A: 90 degrees from N? (ZEE) was also nice. I liked CUSP, LOCHS, DEFT and OCCULT. All interesting words not commonly found in the grid. The familiar ALOE was given a tricky clue (15A: African healer), and when 16A: Eerie phenomenon, started to look like this - D_JAV_, we panicked for a moment, but suddenly had a feeling we had seen those letters in those spaces before...
Never heard of EGOYAN (19A: Atom who directed "The Sweet Hearafter"), and there was a typo on another unknown proper name clue - 28D: French composer "douard," but neither unknown really made any difference, because we were able to get the crosses, which is good.
Lastly, I think this is the first time we've had to enter an actual digit into the grid. We first tried a rebus (even though we thought it very odd that there would only be one in the grid), but the 8 is way better (as long as you don't mind the whole Microsoft thing, which I do, but this is not the proper forum for such venting).