Mr. Quigley is making some tough puzzles lately. His puzzle in the ACPT this year really did a number on us, and in the beginning of this one I felt that same dread as almost nothing went in easily. He's in my head, man!…
So many things we didn't know today, mostly proper names. HENRIETTA (15A: London's ____ Barnett School) (are we supposed to know this?), NORAH (16A: News anchor O'Donnell) (or this?), LEANNE (26A: Fashion designer Marshall) (or this?), DOTTIE (32A: West of Nashville) (?), JONAS (34A: "Martin Chuzzlewit" villain), FIVETHIRTYEIGHT (35A: Silver screen name) (so named because there are 538 electors in the U.S. electoral college), ALLENDE (49A: Novelist Isabel) (Chilean, I'm guessing?), DAVE (54A: Actor Franco of "Now You See Me") (?), FIONA (60A: Female lead in "Brigadoon"), KIM (5D: 1901 Kipling book), ANDRE (10D: Physicist ____ - Marie Ampère), and VARDALOS (37D: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" writer/star) (ok, we recognized that one, at least, but could not pull it out of the aether. That seems like a lot. And it doesn't even include other, somewhat obscure, proper nouns that we did know, like CHIRAC, LENAPE, and OLLIE.
But even with all that, we somehow finished. Of the long downs, I preferred ANOINTEDONE (27D: Messiah) (nice) to CROSSEDEYES (4D: Strabismus), but at least we learned the word "strabismus," which seems to be a more general term for any condition where the eyes are not properly aligned. I suppose "crossed eyes" is fine, because it's one possible manifestation, but we did not give such latitude to GRINNING (12D: Looking sheepish, say). One can have a sheepish grin, but just saying "looking sheepish, say" doesn't really seem to imply "grinning."
All that being said, I still rate this as an above-average Friday. We enjoy being pushed like this, and some of the clues were quite good indeed. 61A: They'll never hold water (STRAINERS), 17A: One who's not out all night? (INSOMNIAC), 31A: Ship captained by Vicente Yáñez Pinzón (NINA) (guessed it immediately, was happy when it panned out), 50A: Where one might take a bullet (STA) (excellent clue for mediocre fill), and 8D: Not this type?: Abbr. (ITAL) (ditto) were all quite nice.
Keep 'em coming Mr. Quigley!