I was PLEASEd to finish below the 30 minute mark on this one - even if I was under by only a GUCCI. Between minutes 20 and 29, I was mangling my STRESSBALL and staring a DNF in the face. At first, I thought the puzzle played fast for a Friday until it all came down to a very confusing - for this solver, anyway - midsection. It would probably be quicker for me to list the entries that I wasn't stymied by, but that's no way to write a puzzle review.
The trouble began with the two long downs that start in the northwest. Of what did the problem consist? Mostly NONGMOCORN. Actually, that's not strictly true, albeit hilarious. I did have trouble with the NGMO portion of that one, but the real stumper up there was INTERFACES (Meets (with)). I went from INTERsectS to INTERlACES, but couldn't make the rest of the section work - obviously, since they both were wrong. Rack my brain as I might, I couldn't think of an answer for "Tease" (25A) that fit the pattern G_O_ _N. I didn't know Mr. Cube's real name (OSHEA Jackson), or the name of Jupiter's sister, and my book learnin' sadly didn't include the word TOPOS (Traditional literary theme or motif). I was in a pickle, so I put the puzzle down for a while. I decided to look at it once more before I went on a walk and, boom! I suddenly posited GOOFON for "Tease," and the rest, as they say, is history. Phew! While none of the clue/answer pairs were unfair, it was a little unfortunate for this solver that Mr. Mowat ELECTed to put all the ones that were tough for me in the same part of the puzzle. What was he thinking?!?! :)
The east, by contrast, I FELT was easy peasy. Thanks to the new Ken Burns documentary, "Country Music," BRENDALEE was fresh in my mind - so to speak. Has everyone been watching that on PBS? From SURF to SYFY I had no CERES problems.
The south west was the section I enjoyed the most, with the fun "It gets the party started" ICEBREAKER and "Rakes it in" MAKESAMINT. Plus, who doesn't like a CASK of something?
The mid- and southeast had some fine fill as well. I liked "They lead people underground" SUBWAYMAPS. And, URBANDECAY is great fill for a puzzle, if not a city. Despite my lack of literary chops, the word MEWL - always puts me in mind of "All the world's a stage."
One good puzzle deserves another: if one needs RADAR for TORNADOTRACKING what does one need to track a "Sharknado"?