First of all, this one had circles, which, as you may know, is not our favorite theme type. Second, it started with a product name, which is not our favorite type of fill. Third (ok, now I'm just reaching for a third thing…), the fourth line includes NLERS, RIATA, and AAR. If that's not pure crosswordese gold, I don't know what is.
On the other hand, like yesterday, this played above it's "day grade," as it were, and those bits of easy (for the habitual solver) crosswordese can sometimes really help to open up the grid. I was not at all sure where they were going with 5A: Big balls (GALAS), for instance, and they avoided the obvious in a big way with MAGDA (15A: One of the Gabor sisters), too. "Citizen Kane" gets another nod today with SLOANE (11D: Everett ____, player of Mr. Bernstein in "Citizen Kane") - and that's not exactly a gimme, nor was 26A: Actor Claude of "B. J. and the Bear" (AKINS). Remember "B. J. and the Bear?" No? Neither do I.
This puzzle went so slowly for me, in fact, that Frannie got to take a crack at it, which doesn't usually happen on a Tuesday. SLIPSLOP (40D: Twaddle), KASDAN (27D: Lawrence who co-wrote two of the "Star Wars" films), HEGOAT (32D: Billy) - not the easiest of fill.
As it turned out, the theme was fine. Not worth its weight in gold, perhaps, but fine. The direction alternated a lot, so you couldn't just fill them in once you figured it out without at least two of them filled in, which was a nice feature. In fact, it really didn't affect the solving at all. I guess that's how it ought to be during the week, you do the puzzle and then think, "Oh, look. A theme."
In the end, I appreciate the challenge. A decent enough Tuesday.