Each puzzle this week has played hard for its respective day. I hope it continues through the turn! Of course, that won't be my responsibility, as either Horace or Frannie will take up the reviewing reins tomorrow.
I can't say why this took as long as it did. I had a hard start, but once I got into the NE corner and got SIAM, THINE, and HEIGL, I figured out 9D: What might tempt the answers to the six starred clues? (IIIIIIIIIIIIIIJ). I just really really really wanted to type that out. And how silly it looks as an across answer. I was busy filling in Is when I hit the bottom and said to myself, that should really be a J as the hook, and lo and behold, 70A was in fact JOY, which is what I felt on looking at that answer.
3D: Warning for easily provoked types ... or for the answers to the six starred clues? (DONTTAKETHEBAIT) sets us up for the six fish scattered down the center of the puzzle, each clued as an alternative meaning. My favorite was, of course, 44A: *The Mikado in "The Mikado," e.g. (BASS). I didn't recognize the starring initially, and thought the answer might be "role". It wasn't going to be "star", in any case. Although I love the part, he's only in half of the second act.
An interesting result of all of those Is adjacent to each other on the eastern half of the puzzle is how many of the crossing answers have to have two consecutive vowels - seven of the fourteen, in actuality. That's a consequence of how English works, for you linguists out there.
In reviewing the clues and answers, I'm now sort of astonished that I immediately entered FIVE at 1D: Solid orange ball. My mind instantly went to pool rather than to any other possibilities (basketball? the sun?). Was that the same for others?
In other areas, I'm not so fond of 4D: Cardiologist's concern (CLOT), which seems to imply a special connection between heart specialists and blood clots. Whereas in reality, that's my major concern on a daily basis in managing stroke patients. Maybe I'm being touchy.
1A: Ice Bucket Challenge, in 2014 (FAD). D. It's true that it became a fad, but it was an important movement that drew attention to funding for ALS. Couldn't they have been even more contemporary and talk about the ubiquitous fidget spinners now?
Fave: DISCI (29A: Things hurled at the Olympics) - the plural -I is a winner for me.
Least fave: BYPATH (43D: Indirect route). Yes it is. And nobody says it.