Ahh, the Friday puzzle, themeless and challenging, making a successful solve so satisfying. I like to think that we are all of ONE MIND on this topic.
While I did eventually triumph, here are some clues that I went MANOAMANO with for some time, thanks to their pleasing ambiguity:
"Event for which participants may take the floor" (SITIN)
"Part of a dash" (CARSTEREO)
"Alternative to white" (RYE)
"Hardly try anymore" (COAST)
1/2 vis a vis 1/3, say (EVE)
The preponderance of of answers that I didn't know ("'Crime and Punishment' heroine" (SONYA), Largest steel producer in the U.S. (NUCOR), Inedible kind of orange (OSAGE), and University near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains (FURMAN)) slowed my PROGRESSO in the north and southwest. As a side note, who knew Progresso and Campbells had the same number of letters? Or how to spell Jim NANTZ's last name. Probably AREAMAN. :)
This puzzle GETS a STAR from this critic.