A fun themeless, pinned together by four 12-letter answers: DRAMACOACHES (7D: Ones who help people get their acts together?) (Nice), MIRACLEONICE (18D: Sports Illustrated named it #1 in its "100 Greatest Moments in Sports History) (Sports are not as important as people think they are), PUTONACLINIC, and IMSPEECHLESS. Very nice skeleton, that.
Is it possible that I'm right in counting only eight answers that are neither crossing nor running alongside one of those four? That's pretty cool. And I'm sure it put a lot of pressure on poor Mr. Trabucco as he attempted to find adequate fill. Which is, perhaps, why we find things like SEZ (8D: States, informally), JER (14D: "Seinfeld" nickname), ARIE (20A: Nickname for Adrianus) (Okaaayyyy....), and ORD (45D: Onetime California fort) hiding in dark places. Incidentally, I think I played disc golf either on the former Fort ORD base or near it the last time I was in California, which was not very recently, btw.
|Feminist Icon, MSPACMAN|
It's a little weird that we have the symmetrical SKITEAM and NFCTEAM, but I suppose that, too, is due to the structure. And while we're on the topic of symmetrical clues, I'll mention two more that worked well for Frannie and me - ELMIRA (50A: New York city west of Binghamton) - because we have close friends from both Binghamton and ELMIRA (and because of the "It's a Wonderful Life" ELMIRA reference), and BENETS Readers Encyclopedia, which is one of Frannie's favorite books! If you don't have a set (it can be had in two volumes), do yourself a favor and pick one up on eBay or abebooks. It's great to just page through while you're having a cup of coffee or tea. Or heck, even a cocktail.
I enjoyed solving this, even with the complete unknown in the middle, and I appreciate the non-Dr. Zhivago clue for LARA (Hi MLou! :) ). Much of the longer material was strong, and I kind of liked just blasting through it. I hope it went well for you, too.
p.s. Remember POGS?