If you're familiar with college names and locations, you probably breezed through the theme answers in John Underwood's puzzle. Especially so if you caught the different directions the answers were taking:
20A: Home of Smith College (North Hampton MA)
29A: Home of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point NY)
44A: Home of Notre Dame (South Bend IN)
52A: Home of Michigan State (East Lansing MI)
I would have preferred to see them appear in North, South, East, West order. Not a huge problem...
As easy as the theme answers were, that's how difficult I found some of the fill.
1D: Score after deuce (adin)
9D: Steven __, real-life subject of the 1987 film "Cry Freedom" (Biko). Sorry, hadn't heard of it or him.
41A: Unicorn in a 1998 movie (Nico). Or him/her.
22A: Like some heirs (sole). I had sons for the longest time, and it was really messing with my downs. I was pretty sure of 6D: Mingo player on "Daniel Boone" (Ed Ames), but with the SS ending (as a result of sons), I started second guessing myself. Was it James Arness? Had Smith College moved to some other city in Massachusetts?
Some clues and answers I really liked:
1A: The gamut (A to Z). Shouldn't have stumped me for even a minute, but it did.
16A: Gen __ (Xer). Mostly I liked the X, which then became part of 11D: Former lovers, e.g. (expartners). Very much liked the options apparent in that clue. Exhusbands would have fit in the grid, but I don't think there's a two-letter state abbreviation that ends in U. Anyway, I'd already determined that Smith College had not moved.
37A: Suffix with psych- (otic). My first thought...not that I am, mind you. I'm also not insane (47D: Ready for the rubber room), although my children and a few close friends might think otherwise.
There were three other ten-letter answers in the grid, all worthy of a mention:
28D: Devotees of fine dining (epicureans). Not a word you see in the puzzle every day.
18A: Wildlife manager (game keeper). Bartender wasn't long enough.
59A: Sites for stargazers (planetaria). Sure, it looks odd as a plural, but when you need to make it fit a grid, you do what you need to do.
Rex Parker recently confessed his man-crush on Paul Rudd. I have similar feelings about Charlize Theron. That said, I didn't know that she played Aeon Flux, which appears as two answers in the extreme southeast, at 61A and 64A. I fell in love with her (figuratively) in The Cider House Rules. Come to think of it, Paul Rudd was also in it.
49A: "Blame It __" (Michael Caine film) (on Rio). I think we have a subtheme going here. Michael Caine played the doctor in The Cider House Rules--he was superb.
Okay, enough about that movie. It was good, but it was depressing. The book, by John Irving, was even more so...difficult to read in parts.
Back to the puzzle. I'm getting to like the [bracketed] clues. Today we have 3D: [see other side] as the clue for over. Nice one.
I do (42A: Words of commitment) believe I'm finished for the night. See you tomorrow.