I've had a fun week solving and blogging, and we wrap it up with a good old-fashioned challenging Saturday. I don't love all of the entries (c.f. BRONZERPALETTE), but I enjoyed fighting my way through some of the tougher answers.
Things started out pretty straightforwardly, however. The little NW corner fell very quickly. I couldn't quite get any of the down answers out of it, so shifted over to the larger NE section. AJAR and JETE and AGAR were all easy enough, and then with Riz AHMED at the far end of the corner, I slowly filled in answers. Funny to see NUMETAL crossing MEGACHURCH. After a bit, I had all the northern half filled in.
The clue at 3D: Tragic downfall? (TEARDROP) is a nice use of a QMC. The other clue I really liked in this section was 11D: Not quite right (ACUTE). That there is the definition of a beautiful non-QMC.
A little odd to have GAYPORN right in the middle of the puzzle. It's a little out of line with the NYT's usual fare.
I found it quite a challenge making my way from the completed upper half into the lower half. I had TROLL____, GOT____, and FRAT____, all without knowing for certain what was expected below those starts. In addition, APNEAL is simply just not something anyone says. Ever. It doesn't even Google. I wanted APNEic, but couldn't make it work. I was actually at an IMPASSE.
After a few inspired guesses, I got the WENT____, confused myself by entering OKay at 47D: "All right, we get it!" (OKOK), and then finally recognized that 54A: Cause of lightheadedness? had to be HALO (very clever, that!).
I liked 38D: Traveler around the world (ORBITER), and MEATBAGS reminded me of Star Trek: TNG, where humans were referred to as "Ugly bags of mostly water!"
In any case, it was a good hard fight. Tomorrow it's back to Horace. See everyone soon!