There's nothing like Monday to make you feel smart again.
I'm calling the theme Opposite Options (Opposites Attract didn't seem quite right), and the four theme answers are:
20A: Course option (pass/fail class)
37A: Response option (yes/no answer)
44A: Electric light option (on/off switch)
59A: Quiz option (true/false test)
For the record, I would never want to take a pass/fail class. Gimme an A! I dislike yes/no answers, and I try not to ask questions that will let them pass for a response. And I would never give (or want to take) a true/false test. I am, however, okay with light switches being on or off. Just use energy efficient bulbs, please.
I tried to time myself today and instanly went into panic mode. It didn't help that I started out with the wrong answer for 1A: "Get out of here!" (scat). I had shoo, which made for some interesting answers when I got to the Downs. It took me a full two minutes to get past that, but it was smooth sailing from then on. Even with the delay, I finished in 8 1/2 minutes, and I'm content with that.
I thought the theme was kind of fun. Once I figured it out, the other theme answers were easy to get. The only course option I could think of initially, though, was something about auditing a class. Just skipped that answer, as well as the others, until I had some of the downs in place. Then...piece of cake.
In addition to the theme answers, other multi-word answers were:
11A: Shoo off (chase away)
35D: "Go fast!," to a driver (gun it!). I have never said this...probably because I've never robbed a bank and needed to make a quick getaway.
36D: Back then (at one time). Yes, at one time, I could stay up all night, I could get out of bed in the morning without groaning, I could go on and on...
The other place that tripped me up (after I'd rectified the shoo/scat problem), was 42A: Dweller along the Volga (Tatar). I have never heard of that word and wouldn't have gotten it except for the crosses. The only problem was that I was unsure of the final crossing, 39D: Western U.S. gas giant (Arco), and the R was the last letter to fall. I entered seven others into AcrossLite before the puzzle was accepted. The fact that it was is the only way I know that the answer is correct.
Interesting double reference to ages. 48A: Person under 21 (minor) and 70A: Person under 20 (teen).
66A: "Praise be to __" (Allah) is offset by the biblical reference at 7D: Eve's second son (Abel).
28A: Old photo shade (sepia) brought back wonderful memories. My parents were married in 1948, and their wedding album is all sepia photographs--all beautiful. My favorite has my mother on the floor, with her dress spread out in a circle. Her bridesmaids' bouquets are arranged around the circle, and my father is sitting next to her. My mother died 25 years ago, my father 5 years ago. Of course, I miss them both, but I'm so thankful for the pictures and the memories.
And that seems like a good place to stop. Maybe have a glass of wine and look at some pictures.
See you tomorrow.