There was a lot to like about this puzzle. So why, then, did I feel unhappy over all when I finished it? Because there were pockets of really unpleasant fill, which just felt like it didn't need to happen.
The theme is a straightforward one, and one which became clear very early on. The NW corner was not difficult and had some nice bits in it. I put TABORS in at 1A and TASTEBUD was a nice followup. I feel I've seen that clue for this word before (1D: It may be on the tip of your tongue). We got another repeat with ODEON from a recent grid. I very much liked 3D: It holds a lock in place (BARRETTE) - I like a misleading clue which doesn't rely on a question mark, as I may have mentioned in other blog posts.
So I found STREAMINGINCA shortly thereafter, and got the idea of adding CA to a well-known phrase to create a wacky new phrase. Unfortunately "streaming in" is hardly a well-known phrase. And another phrase, "Really big shew", which is a reference to Ed Sullivan, feels incredibly recherche at this point. Even though the resultant answer, REALLYBIGCASHEW is pretty funny.
On the good side, you get the brilliant YOUMAKEMEWANNACASHOUT. That's outstanding, and I suspect it was the seed for the entire puzzle. First, you have the immediately recognizable original phrase; then, the upshot creates an entirely new sense due to the creation of two words where there had been one before. I find CASTELSEWHERE very clever, and DEEPSPACECANINE is fine as well. The other two, BACALLHANDLER and THELIFEOFPICA are okay.
I definitely struggled with some of those, but it was the fill that rubbed me the wrong way. I'll just list some the issues:
- BENZ, EOLITH, ENZI. Okay, so a senator, even from Wyoming (a bit of regional chauvinism there), shouldn't be unfair; Karl Benz is clearly well-known if only from Mercedes fame; and a chipped flint nodule is of interest. But still, I had B_N_ and both of those letters felt for some time like they would be just guesses.
- PLICATE, LUMIERE, ETYPE. Once again, as above. I got the brothers Lumiere from crosses, and the E of E-type couldn't really be anything else. But I don't like PLICATE. And also, I'm upset because I put "cabinet" in for 25A: Washington post? (EMBASSY).
- AWACS, ADAGES, SAGA. The first is a whatever answer - stands for "Airborne warning and control system". 35D: Major account - took me a long time to see what this was getting at, and maybe I'm being hypocritical in that I just said I like this kind of misleading clue, only I'm in the middle of a rant, and I'm allowed to be that way, because I'm writing the blog.
- NYALAS, ALEUT, SADCASE. 81A: Sealer, maybe - is definitely misleading. A nyala I'd never come across in a grid before, and actually it's pretty cool looking next to OOLALA. I'm just upset because I wanted "SADsack".
- ALETAP, MEDE, DNY, ETNAS. An ugly set of answers next to WAYLAID, which is pretty great.
- STATIC. Why is this clued as "Criticism"? I don't get it.
Okay, I'm done ranting. I liked the SE corner with the trio of HIRELING, ENTRACTE, and WEEKDAYS. I liked 95D: Board's opposite (GETOFF). That's very nice. 106A: Hold it! (HILT) was not what I expected - how many people put HaLT in first?
And OYSTERS made an appearance the day after I'd wanted to put it in the puzzle.