This was a real struggle for me. A lot of stuff I didn't know, mixed with some pretty tricky cluing. And it's a ton of open space, which means fewer clues, which means fewer points of entry.
Anyway, to give you an idea, I started on the wrong foot at 1A: Shout when there's no cause for alarm? (IMUP). I guessed "wolf". You know, like the boy who cried wolf? It seemed like a clever answer, and it fit. Even after I finished the whole puzzle, it wasn't until I was on my walk with the dog that I finally got it. See, I was thinking of what you might say as you're striding to the plate to take your at bat in a baseball game. But it's referring to a person who just woke up.
That's a ton of explanation for one answer. I give it a B+ for the cleverness.
I also put in NayS at 27A (NOES). So the first correct answer I had was 6D: Selene's Roman counterpart (LUNA), but that was not enough to counter my incorrect answers. I got a foothold in the NE corner, where 13D: Shortest-serving U.S. vice president (31 days) was a gimme (TYLER). Because William Henry Harrison got pneumonia on the day of his inaugural address and died.
It's a good thing I know my college mascots, because after a while of headscratching, I got BEARCATS. I could see the UCincinnati jersey. Some great stuff in this area. I mean 10D: Battery container? (CAKEPAN). Right? That's funny. It reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:
Q: What's brown and sticky?
A: A stick.
Laughter all around.
Also 21D: Tart flavor (PECAN) - that is, the flavor of a kind of tart (pie), not a flavor that is tart. DRPEPPER is nice, and maybe my favorite answer of all, 8D: Powerful foe of the Man of Steel (GENERALZOD). As played by Terence Stamp:
Okay, so maybe it was that trio of 7-letter across answers in the middle, namely MACLEAN, DENIZEN, and CELADON. They're all completely fine answers. Just tough. And 30D? DEVRY? Oof. My one error came at the intersection of that and UNITY. I had UNITe. Ah well.
ITISDECIDEDLYSO is great. A lovely throwback to my Magic 8-ball. Why was it an 8-ball? What was the thinking there? Wikipedia is not particularly helpful.
Looking through the grid, I see a lot of good stuff. I'm not sure why my feeling wasn't great about the grid. Maybe sour grapes.
That was Terrence Stamp?!? I guess I didn't know who he was until "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," when he had white hair. Incredible.
Anyway... I didn't know PARVALUE and had "PutVALUE." BARR and ROREM were equally unknown to me, so this is really more of a DNF than a FWTE, but, well, do what you will with that.
Loved the literal clue for WELLREAD (Like literati), and, speaking of literal, I also liked the answer for 40A: Networking Aid (SERVER). Hah!
Enjoyed INSOLENT (Full of sauce). MANUALOA, nice though it is to have the whole thing in there, was problematic, because I had ONEPLEASE and SUNTANNING early, and for a while I had "MoUNt___" sitting there, waiting for a three-letter peak. Oh well...
I guess I liked this more than you did, even though I ended up worse off than you. :) But yeah... who ever heard of DEVRY? What the hell is that anyway?
No errors over here. I thought this ran about the regular difficulty for a Friday. I, too, put wolf in for 1A and NayS at 27A at first, but things revealed themselves eventually. PARVALUE is known to me, as is DEVRY (both of which were entered off of the clues). I mean, it was either DEVRY, Phoenix or Capella, right? I wanted some type of non-kosher, cloven hoof or unclean reference for 36A, but LEAVENED was much better. BEARCATS, MACLEAN and CELADON were not known to me, but the crosses were fair. I loved DENIZEN (30A Resident), and, yes, CAKEPAN. BLONDEALE is also excellent, and TREELESS (32D Like much of northern Siberia) has a nice random clue. I agree that TYLER was a gimme. What, no picture of Lisa BONET, or mention that it's two days in a row referencing The Cosby Show?
Slow time, but I enjoyed this. I put in a few answers in the north, like BONET and ERG, but my real entry point was BANANABOAT with no crosses, which led to BLONDEALE, SNORE, and PARVALUE with just a cross.
Anyway, I don't know this for fact, but I've always assumed that the MAGIC 8 Ball's design (the 8 ball from pool) was a reference to the idiom of being "behind the 8 ball" and not knowing what to do [with your next shot]. The Magic 8 Ball answers the question.