Boy, I did myself in on this one with my uncertainty. I entered STEPPE (1A: Eurasian plain) without hesitation, but almost as quickly took it out again when I couldn't immediately get any of the downs. Then I went over to the NE and solved pretty much in a clockwise manner, finally ending up at STEPPE again. Well, MENIAL (15A: Like McJobs) (nice!) was actually the very last thing in, but who's keeping track?
On the other hand, I put in BUGJUICE (7A: Sugary punch, slangily) immediately too, but I loved it too much to take out again, and besides, the crosses there came more quickly. BUN, GIGI, and JOEL anyway. CEN (13D: 2000s, e.g.: Abbr.) (okay…), and EPT (14D: Competent, facetiously) (wow, they went there) took a little more time. I'd complain about those last two, but as I said, I like BUGJUICE an awful lot, and EPT is actually kind of funny.
And that's how it went today. Give me BUGJUICE and ECLAIRS (48D: Oblong pastries), and you can have all the ROS, EDS, LOD, SMA, OHO, and INS you want. Well, ok, that's kind of a lot, but hey, look, 56A: Loser to paper (ROCK)! That's worth a lot… and what about ENGARDE (3D: Fighting words, sort of)?! That's some quality clueing right there, I tell you what.
And I haven't even touched on the theme! Nature abhors a LANGUAGEBARRIER (64A: Foreigner's obstacle … or a hint to hidden words in 17-, 29-, 37-, and 49-Across), yet there it is. And there, too, are GERMAN, LATIN, THAI, and HEBREW hidden in the long theme answers. Mr. Schoenholz, you had me at LATIN.
I'm calling it good. I enjoyed myself. Thank you. Over and out.