Sandwiched between "Revolver" and "Sgt. Pepper's," at #2 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Albums" list is PETSOUNDS, and today we have actual PETSOUNDS sandwiched inside longer answers like HO[MEOW]NER and T[HISS]IDEUP. I suppose some people might think, "Sure, I have heard of a pet cat, a pet dog, and even a pet snake, but what about that 'oink' in TATTO[OINK]?" Well, I would have been one of those people, if not for the fact that my cousin's wife is somewhat famous in our family for having kept a pet pig as a child.
The animal noises each span two words, they're a consistent four letters each, and they're all standard English spellings. So as far as I'm concerned, the theme works perfectly.
In addition to that goodness, there are several excellent words in the non-theme fill today too, including THWART, WINNOW, CHOLERA (well, nice sounding word - less nice if you have it), ETHANOL, CORONET, and KINGTUT (43D: Jokey 1978 Steve Martin song), not to mention TWINE and GUST. And I actually admire the SASSINESS of getting OOO (32D: Tic-tac-toe win) in there.
There are a few ODD entries, like the French plural TES, and the possessive partial LARAS, and I'm not really sure I understand why the "out of state" part was important to include on USETAX, but that's probably more on me than the puzzle.
Two last things: 1. After having watched all six episodes of "Planet Earth II," I have come to understand that many birds, not just SWANS mate for life, which is interesting and cool, and 2. "THAR she blows!" will forever remind me of the old restaurant Yoken's, and the many stops my family made there on our way to or from a cottage in Maine. Good memories...
So the UPSHOT is, I liked this one quite a bit.