Boy, when I said yesterday that Wednesdays are a hodgepodge of oddball puzzles, I never thought I'd get one like this!
We have eight examples of auto-antonyms, or contranyms. That is, words which mean both one thing and its opposite. Had Mr. Haight clued these words with just one of their definitions, the puzzle would have been essentially a standard themeless, and that's the way it played. Actually, for me, about a themeless on the level of difficulty of a Friday.
How did these words come to mean their own opposites? SANCTION means confirmation or enactment of a law, which is where it gets its positive meaning (Sanctify comes from the same root). But the sense of a penalty is also an enactment of something, so I suppose that's where that comes from. Ah, English. What a strange language. Are there examples of contranyms in other languages? Dutch, say? (Horace? Frannie?)
Most of my difficulty was in the NW. I had OREO and DUO, but the rest of the answers just wouldn't come. If I had picked up KOI, that most standard of crossword fish answers, the corner would have been much easier. PELEG needed all of the crosses.
I'm not convinced that "Nosebleed seats" are usually the REARMOST. I'd be more inclined just to call them the uppermost seats. At Foxboro stadium, the highest tier has seats that are more forward than the back rows of the section below.
I enjoyed SUREDO near by MAAM. Sounded Western to me. He's a GONER, MAAM. SUREDO. See? You can write your own John Wayne script.
There's very little to really complain about (OEN). Otherwise it's a reasonably fine puzzle, although how the NW and SE corners are completely cut off bugged me.
1A: HOLDUP. It's a theme answer, but one of the ones I liked better, so I give it a solid B.
Fave: WECOOL (17A: "No hard feelings, man, right?"). I liked how the "man" is thrown in there in the clue to make the colloquial nature of the answer clear.
Least fave: HEHS (30A: Sneaky little snickers) - just because of all the possible answers that could fit in there, plus the plural.