I'll be the first to admit that I let out a long groan when I saw that the six theme answers were clued as "Example of 41-Across."
Fortunately, I knew the trick was to start with the downs, and before long, I was on to it.
The theme, running horizontally through the grid at 41A, is FAMOUS LAST WORDS...and the six theme answers are:
1A: So long
7A: Gotta run (the northeast corner was the first to come together for me, so this was my tip-off to the theme)
45A: Au revoir. Not sure I could have spelled it correctly without some of the downs. I learned Spanish, not French.
73A: Time to go. I wanted toodle-oo here, but the downs wouldn't work with that.
74A: Bye bye
In addition to the theme answers, there were three multiple word answers: 16A: "That's fine" (okay by me), 19A: Not fighting (at peace), and 71A: "Be delighted" (I sure can). I had a problem with the last one, though. "Be delighted" sounds more like I'd love to, and that's what I initially entered.
I loved seeing 17A: __ Quimby of children's books (Ramona). My girls loved the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary...Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 were our favorites.
One of the things that stumped me also turned out to be one of my favorite clues/answers in the puzzle...1D: Rock bands? (strata).
Other favorites include 51D: Black Russians may go on it (bar tab) and 72A: Low tie (one all).
Didn't know 24D: Actress Dawson of "Rent" (Rosario). Thank heavens for acrosses.
Also didn't know 55D: Buffalo hockey player (Sabre). Don wasn't much help with this one. Again, it came together with acrosses.
I liked the side-by-side polar clues...26D: Polar denizen (bear) and 27D: Polar explorer (Byrd).
Thought that 28D: Salty septet (seas) was pretty clever as clues go.
Mr. Ed is back in the grid (43D: Four-footed TV star), as is kabob (57D: Barbecue offering). By the way, kabob is my preferred spelling. I think it was recently spelled kebab. That just looks wrong.
I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we had eel just the other day...although maybe it was in the New York Sun. It appears today at 20D (Unagi, at a sushi restaurant). Count on me not to eat it...ever.
I'm not the pickiest (18A: Most finicky) when it comes to analyzing a puzzle. If I can find a half dozen things to love, I'm a happy solver. And I'm a happy solver today.
This post also appears at Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle. This is my second day filling in for the vacationing Rex, who will be back to his blogging tomorrow.
Hope to see you then.