Hello everyone! Surprise, surprise (if you've been following our typical rotation of reviewers closely, that is). Instead of Frannie, it's Colum. I'll try not to TACKS your patience by trying (and failing) to come up with the brilliant puns she scatters through her reviews.
What a super fun theme today! There is no doubt that we need the grayed out squares and circles, or otherwise we'd never find the hidden educational subjects, each of which has been interrupted by a single letter. Thus, ARCTANGENT has "Art" with a C in the middle. All of these could be high school classes, although I don't think we would have ever called it "Lit" instead of English. It's impressive to find these letter strings in so many (eight) answers. Who would have thought to find "Chem" split by L in RACHELMADDOW?
But there's another level. If you read the interrupting letters in order from top to bottom, you find the phrase "cut class." Hah! On so many levels, this works just right, and just adds to the insanity of putting this theme together.
The fill is relatively straightforward. I found more names that I didn't know than I'm used to, such as Michael URIE, Katie NOLAN, and Celia CRUZ. On the other hand, I knew DIEGO Rivera and ENID Blyton immediately, so that seems pretty balanced. I recall with delight the Famous Five series of the latter.
Favorite clue-answer pair (C/AP) was 82A: "What in the...!" (SONOFA). I also liked 6D: Fence line? (ENGARDE). I used to fence in high school. It was a lot of fun pretending to be The Man in Black. Okay, actually that came out my senior year of high school, so probably this is an incorrect memory.
And lastly, 15D: Not sharp, perhaps (INTUNE) is an incorrect assessment of my piano.