I did a lot of grumbling last night while solving (or attempting to solve), but I'm seeing the puzzle with new eyes this morning...and it's really one of the best. Meaty long answers, lots of Scrabbly letters...and nothing seemed forced to get all of that in. Well done, Barry...even though I couldn't finish it on my own. I got a few from Dogpile, but when I was at a total standstill, I peeked at JimH's finished grid for two answers that unlocked the grid. Thanks, Jim...what are blogging friends for?
Spanning the center of the grid is 36A: One who didn't say no? (consenting adult). Great answer, perfect clue...and crossing at its center is 20D: Profanity (sacrilege). There's some kind of opposing connection there, but I can't put it into words this morning.
With good long answers above and below, you'd think the down fill would have been compromised...not so.
30A: Frequent business traveler (road warrior). I'm so glad I'm not one of those. I love coming home on Friday, getting into my Big Dogs and just hanging out at home.
39A: They hang from the roof (stalactites). I don't know why that took me so long to get...maybe because I think of them as hanging from ceilings. That's part of the trick to differentiate them from stalagmites. The C because they hang from ceilings...the G in stalagmites reminds you that they grow from the ground up.
Some of the best downs crossing that:
4D: South Dakota's __ National Park (Badlands). I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to get that...we've driven through it and were just enthralled with its beauty.
6D: Wear for rough outdoor activities (cargo pants). Yeah, I've worn them to go shopping...that can be rough on a big sale day.
24D: Afghan province or its capital (Herat). I just finished "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, so that should have been a gimme...but it wasn't.
29D: One who might pick up toys (dog catcher). I didn't see that one coming. If you like this illustration by Thom Glick, you can see more of his work here.
31D: River formed by the junction of the Fulda and Werra (Weser).
37D: Where you might get into a rut (dirt road).
Other noteworthy clues and/or answers:
1A: Lard source (fatback)...ick. That was part of a stack in the northwest that also included 15A: G.P.S. receiver display (area map), 17A: Uses a certain iron (solders)...not about golf, and 19A: What flamingos often stand on (one leg)...one of very few gimmes for me.
The northeast stack...8A: Service with a queue (Netflix), its cross at 14D: Botanical nutrient conductor (xylem), 16A: Explanatory tool (analogy), 18A: Ousting (removal), 21A: Vision de nuit (reve)...French for what?...and its cross at 13D: Donation declaration (I gave). I was a bit confused by 8D: Nostril (naris)...thought it was nares, but that would be plural.
The most Scrabbly corner was the southwest, which included 43A: Home to Al Jazeera (Qatar), its cross at 43D: Faultfinder's concern? (quake), 40D: Exotic estate (Xanadu)...another gimme since I had 40A: Indications of good bowling (Xes), 54A: An ace is a good one (aviator), crossing with 44D: Gridder Harper (Alvin) and 57A: County west of Dublin (Kildare).
In the southeast...50A: Trust (cartel)...I was looking for a verb, 56A: Chin-wag (shmooze), crossing with 52D: Israel's Weizman (Ezer)...what a good Scrabbly name, with a Z in both first and last names...and 60A: Things that wear well? (eroders).
The clue for 49D: Feelthy stuff (porn) made me laugh. It's not listed in my dictionary, though.
Can someone explain 23D: Atlanta commuting option (Marta)...maybe it's an acronym for something.
Time to begin my no-driving day. Elaine is still visiting, so we'll get to spend the day together. I've really enjoyed her time here. She volunteered at our office every day this week and was a tremendous help. Poor thing has caught a nasty cold, though, and she sounds terrible. Maybe Mom will make some chicken noodle soup for her.
Enjoy your Saturday. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.