The grid today looks a lot like a fan, with tight transitions from blade to blade that are sure to rankle my co-blogger, Colum, who is not a fan of such limited connections. I didn't have too much trouble going from quadrant to quadrant, as it turned out, but I did end up groaning a bit more than I like to while solving. In the top half, for example, we have UNTAPE (2D: Begin to remove, as a diaper) - first of all, gross. Second of all, I wanted "unpin." When did we start taping diapers? And lastly, gross. And that's just the first one! We also have RESOLE (6D: Do some cobbling work on), UNNAILED (10D: Loose, in a way, as planks or siding), QUINNS (18A: Actors Aidan and Anthony), DURANGOS (14D: Dodge S.U.V.s) and PENTA. I'm ambivalent about CUSSER (1A: One talking a blue streak?) and UNMIXED (13A: Segregated) - the words themselves are not all that great, but the clues elevate them.
On the up side of the up side, I enjoyed SMOKES (3D: Defeats decisively, in slang), EXEMPT (5D: Not obligated), DRUMROLL (8D: Intro to a big announcement) and ACQUIRED TASTES (7D: & 12D: blue cheese and black coffee, typically). And GAZELLES (25A: Agile African animals) is elegant along the bottom, there.
So, kind of a split decision in the North. In the South it's a little better, with DIVEBAR (49A: Seedy establishment), HARANGUE (27D: Scold at length), DENATURE (47A: Render undrinkable, as alcohol), ANGOLA (46A: OPEC nation since 2007) (Who knew?!), BOREAL (34A: Northern), and SPARSE (42A: Not abundant) (had ScARcE for a while...), which are balanced out by ENDERS (41D: 1985 novel "____ Game"), BSTARS (34D: Rigel and Spica), and WEASELED (29D: Acted evasively).
I don't know... I guess I come out liking it more than I dislike it, but in the beginning I was doing a lot of sighing. Onward!