Opposites not only attract, they PILEIN on each other in today's theme answers. In each of the six theme answers the circled letters form an antonym of the complete answer word. So, WONDERFUL contains WOEFUL, ANIMOSITY contains AMITY, the FEASTING amusingly encompasses FASTING, and COURTEOUS, CURT. In some cases, like the latter, my eye fooled me into seeing circles where there weren't any, and I found myself wondering what was so opposite about COURT and COURTEOUS? But a timely tip from Horace cooled my impulse to go GONUCLEAR in the review. :) I doubt it was intended as such, but the lovely C/AP "Best" (DEFEAT) might be considered bonus theme material, in a way.
I enjoyed the interesting factoid about the color RED being on the flag of every permanent U.N. Security Council member. That clue, along with a couple of others, brought the topic of travel to mind. It was, perhaps, not a great leap, because I've been thinking about travel a lot, especially now that the weather around here has begun to improve. Plus, I've been reading "The Olive Farm" by Carol Drinkwater, of "All Creatures Great and Small" (original version) fame. In the book, she and her French boyfriend buy an overgrown olive farm in the south of France near Cannes to refurbish and eventually inhabit - living her dream, and mine - I mean the part about the French boyfriend. ;)
I think the fact that you couldn't figure out the theme clues without the Downs slowed me down a bit - at least until I understood what was going on. The clue at 12D, "Distance between 'some' and 'where' in 'Somewhere over the rainbow'" completely confused me until the answer (OCTAVE) became clear through the crosses. If they had been any trickier, I might have hit a false note there. In order to make full use of this blog's specially glossary, I might also mention that TATAMI, especially with today's clue ("Mat used for judo") is totally KOFKAesque for this solver. I narrowly avoided a FWOE at the cross of ""China/North Korea border river" and "Division of the Justice Dept." Fortunately, my decision to try the vowels "in order" for that blank square paid off - YALU!