I wondered why my time was so high for a Wednesday, but then I looked at the grid again and saw how segmented it is. Each corner is its own little mini-puzzle, connected primarily by theme answers. I found myself having to start anew over and over again until I finally got the theme.
So, THINKBIG - that is, put "big" before each of the theme clues to get the real clue. So 17A: HOUSE becomes "big house", or THECLINK. And so on. All four are very standard "big" phrases. Nothing too surprising. GRANDPOOBAH is the best answer of course, even though it's not spelled the way Mr. W.S. Gilbert spelled it.
Yeah. It's fine.
Craziest answer prize goes to WWERAW. That just looks insane in the grid. My eyes kept seeing it as I looked over the finished grid and I wanted it to spell something else. The show started in 1993 and is still going on, so I guess it's a strong enough thing to stand on its own in the puzzle.
8D: Heavyweight bout venue (SUMORING) got a big smile for the clue. That's a nice bit of misdirection. 11D: Christian supergroup? (TRINITY) is cute.
Nothing wrong with Smetana's The MOLDAU, part of Ma Vlast. It's probably the only movement that ever gets played on the radio, but it surely is a lovely piece of music.
1A: Creatures under Wayne Manor (BATS) is a good way of rescuing a blah bit of opening answering. I'll give the pairing a B-. Anyway, the puzzle is an above average Wednesday offering. I wonder whether Mr. Geltman is making his NYT debut here? Yes, indeed he is! Congratulations, and welcome, sir.
I thought this was pretty well-done for a Wednesday. I never heard of WWERAW, and just now see how to parse it (I didn't spend too much time thinking about it yesterday), but I agree that if it's been around for that long, it's OK. BAHAI is something else I didn't know, but the crosses are fine. MALAISE is nice, and SWIGGED is great, although I like to think of sipping out of my flask. Interesting that we have BAT_/BAT___ (1A/1D) in the NW corner and YER/___YER (34A/16D) over in the NE section; probably not intentional.
Aaaugh! Another FWOE! MuRIEL instead of MARIEL!
Other than that, though, this was pretty good. I like seeing HAMBURGER there in the middle.
Didn't know MOLDAU, but dropped in THESEUS off the clue. Small victory, but I'll take it.