Welp, we had filled in 187 letters after about twenty minutes, but we didn't get the "Well Done!" confirmation. It was late, and we were tired, and I guess the joke was just such an old one that we didn't think twice about it. This morning, however, fuelled by caffeine, Frannie said to herself "Hey, what's that circle doing there?" and the puzzle was finally done. Whew!
Aside from all that, we enjoyed much of the grid, the old riddle, and the two answers, especially the one I hadn't heard before - ASUNBURNEDPANDA (63A: Answer to another spelling of the riddle). (I really have no idea how we missed that circle last night!)
I had "skin" for BURY (6A: Hide) for a short time, and wondered for a moment whether it was ADyA or ADIA for 52A: 1988 Sarah McLachlan hit. The "civilized man" pair was fun (NEMO & VERNE), but I want to know whether the clue for 54A: Author of the quote "I am not what you call a civilized man" simply refers to the quote by the fictional character, or if Jules Verne, at some other point in his life, made that remark referring to himself.
It seems rather cold to call a "1D: Hostage" a PAWN, but I guess I can't argue with it. The labelling of IMHO as the "2D: Modern 'methinks,'" on the other hand, is perfect. It beautifully captures the off-putting, affected quality of the abbreviation.
That whole NW corner, really started this out well. The clues for METEOR (4D: Luminary in a late-night show?) and ODS (5D: Has more than enough, briefly) were quite nice, and NOME (20A: U.S. city known to some locals as Siqnazuaq) was interesting, even though I guessed it immediately. I'm not sure the rest of the puzzle holds up to that standard (BALLYARD (6D: Home is one corner in it) seems a bit of a stretch, for example), but it's not terrible or anything. EPHEMERA (10D: Time-sensitive items) and JOHANNES (38D: Artist Vermeer) are both solid eight-letter entries. And, as ET59 pointed out in the comments on yesterday's grid (!), the SIDEA/SIDEB (43D: Elvis's "Viva Las Vegas," recordwise) give a nice continuity to the week.
Lastly, didn't I just warn that we would soon see "Downton Abbey" clues? Well, today we have DOWAGERS (40D: Violet Crawley of "Downton Abbey," and others). I don't mind at all, however, because Violet is easily the most entertaining character on the show. Without her, it would hardly be worth tuning in for.
Oh, I almost forgot one of Frannie's favorites, UNO (64D: Start for a Spanish count)! I guess there was plenty to like in here. On to the weekend!