I came close to CRUSHINGIT: I had all but the NW corner filled in within 7:30, but struggled for quite some time with these entries:
- ALCAZAR - never heard of it, but it makes sense.
- 27A: 86 or 99 (AGENT) - referencing Get Smart, am I right?
- 19A: Sheet music abbr. (ARR) - so many possibilities here, I needed all the crosses to get it.
- 4D: Some patrons: Abbr. (STS) - I still don't understand this. States? Saints? I think the latter.
- 3D: Wrongly assumed (USURPED) - this is so good on so many levels. I loved it!
In any case, those held me up for four minutes! And that's why it's a Friday.
I broke in with ECHO, and then probably my favorite and least favorite answer at the same time: 6D: "The ponytail's hipster cousin," per GQ (MANBUN).
I looked at ENGAGEMENTPARTY for a long time, trying to understand why the bride and groom to be were trying to become a celebration. That's another really good clue.
Anybody here play NBAJAM? I sure did. Big heads, basketballs on fire, shattering backboards. Good old-school fun.
Hope knew NELLIE immediately upon hearing the clue. It's nice to have an expert of old TV and books. I know Frannie is her own expert, but if she ever needs to, she can probably turn to her sister for instant access.
38D: What motivates people to get to first base during a game? (KISSCAM). Yup. That's awesome.
So while some of the stuff was a bit less fascinating, or frankly incomprehensible (ETO, I'm looking at you), there was enough great stuff that I liked this puzzle.
Oh, yeah. 1A: Walk all over (ABUSE) - C+. Wanted AmblE. Didn't quite work. I downgraded the answer for the unpleasant connotations. The same way I didn't really like IMALIVE.
P.S. Huygens: SIX. So close.