Horace and I finished the puzzle together tonight after dinner. We started it over coffee this morning, but we had a little trouble with the northeast and southwest corners. Believe it or not, both of us had to work all day today, so no additional puzzling took place until this evening, thus this late review.
We eventually resolved the problems, but ended up FWOE. We didn't know 48A. Province : Canada :: __ : Russia (OBLAST) and we somehow didn't guess 45D. Options for target practice even though it seems obvious in retrospect. We might have been able to correct the error if one of the puzzlers didn't jump the BBGUNS by completing the grid before we were sure of our answer as is his wont. :)
There were some good bits in here, but I'd say that overall, there was more chaff than wheat. From 7D. They have 125 questions and last 130 mins. (PSATS) through 25A. Marks, as a box (XESIN) and ending with 63A. National coming-out day? (RELEASEDATE) I found much to cavil at. The triple threes at the top of the north east and the south west created dead zones. Sure, they made room for the triple stack of elevens, but the elevens lacked afflatus, in particular the set in the north west: GODIHOPENOT, ITUNESSTORE, and STEVECARRELL. Ho hum.
The puzzle contained quite a bit of foreign matter - one might almost call it a smörgåsbord - including 26A. One-sixth of diciotto (TRE), 44A. Title bird in a Rimsky-Korskov opéra (COQ), 10D. General-aviation alternative to Le Bourget (ORLY), a double whammy with 8D ETRE and 9D NOE (French soliloquy starter? and Arche de __ (boat in la Bible)), respectively, and my least favorite, 35A."Encore" (BIS). I am guessing that Hyguens won't like it, but maybe he was cheered up by 12D. Like any number by itself (DIVISIBLE).
On the positive side, I did like 30A. Certain union member (WIFE) and 32D. Aids for dating (TREERINGS). SUNTANOIL (31D. Browning selection?) had us stumped for a while as our thoughts ran to poetry rather than melanin seekers, but we liked it when we did get it, which is where much of the rest of the puzzle failed for me. How boring is this 42A. Athletic conf. for UMass (ATEN)? And, if asked if I "absolutely" hated 21A, I would say, YESIDO.
The puzzle did include EEL (58D. Gulper ___), usually a favorite because of its puzzling ubiquity, but in this case, the clue is as common as its answer. Shakespeare (or his ghost writer) may have hit the nail on the head once again when he said "many a man hath more hair than WIT." (29D.)