SOMETHING IN THE WATER
The theme today was a nice one: types of boats and the bodies of water where they are often found. RAFT on the COLORADORIVER, GONDOLA on the GRANDCANAL, and UBOAT under the ATLANTICOCEAN. At first I wondered why it was not perfectly symmetrical, but now I see that most of them (with the lone exception of the UBOAT) are on the bodies of water, just as they should be. That's a nice touch.
The fill, however, suffers greatly for this cute theme, and is loaded with very unusual entries. JUDAEA (20A: Jerusalem's province, to the Romans), LEVERET (49A: Young hare), BALALAIKA (36A: Russian relative of a guitar), and ATMAN (51D: Hindu soul), to name just four. Then you've got things like UNDAM (34D: Let flow again), ODETS (48D: "Waiting for Lefty" playwright) (from 1935), SERIO (25A: Prefix with comic) (umm... ok), PARD (92A: Cowpoke's friend), BAI, SRS, LDL, UNE, OBE... It seems a bit too much for me.
On the up side, there are some nice entries, too. ESCALATOR (53D: One-way flight?) is good, STEELMILL (56A: Heavy metal venue?) is cute, I love a reference to the sonnets, as in ETERNAL (3D: "But thy ____ summer shall not fade": Shak.), and it's always nice to see full names, like JANETRENO (20D: Cabinet member who served all eight years under Bill Clinton).
1A: "Things aren't so bad!" (CHEERUP) gets a B. I like it. I like ALAMO and PASTRY (13A: Napoleon, for one), too, but on the whole, the puzzle is just too full of weirdness to get a thumbs up.