TWISTING ONE'S WORDS
I really love this theme! It's well carried out in all aspects. The NYT xword app on the iPad tells me that there are little arrows in the print version which could not be reproduced in the app. I'm actually glad I didn't know. It would have made things much quicker, but taken out the mystery; first, the themers' locations would be revealed, and second, the clever CORIOLISFORCE "twist" to the answers would have been made too obvious.
Of course, the "-" clues should have given it all away sooner, but I didn't find them, so I was imagining 4D (the first obvious place for a theme, as the question could not be answered in 3 letters) taking some kind of snaking path down through other answers. I finally figured it out over at 14D: Spreading belief? (MANIF[ESTDES]TINY), when I had MANIF_ in the top part and TINY at 55D.
It's a very Games magazine type of theme. The only answer I didn't love was HASTH[ELIMEL]IGHT, which feels a little awkward. Shouldn't it be "is in the limelight"? My favorites are IS[THISTH]INGON and ONH[ANDSAN]DKNEES.
What with the center "revealer", there are nine total theme answers, and I think this is what leads to the less than enjoyable fill. 1A: World champion figure skater Thomas (DEBI) got me off on the wrong foot. The cross with BANHMI was a complete guess for me, mostly because I thought the figure skater was a male entity, whose first name was Thomas. Not so much - I got an error there. I give this 1988 world champion and twice bronze medalist a D for an answer, even though once I googled her, I recalled her.
STPAULMN - that's a stretch. ARRS. I'm really really not a fan of MUTTONY. I raised an eyebrow even as I entered it. And mirroring Ms. Thomas is 115D, Robert DAVI. Good lord, now that I google him, I recognize him immediately. How many movies was he in as the bad guy? And the answer, of course, is: "So many." Doesn't mean I ever knew his name, though.
There are a number of other such answers that I won't go into. On the plus side, there's ETYMOLOGY, NEONDEION, MALFEASANCE, and THEMIKADO, as easy a clue for the last as I've ever seen. Or at least for us G&S aficionados, of whom my regular commenters can all be counted. Oh, I also liked HOLODECK.
Well, I'll give it a mostly thumbs up.