Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM (38A: Pro-Church of England position)— word is broken up and rebused across the middle of the grid
Antidisestablishmentarianism [...] is a political position that originated in 19th-century Britain in opposition to proposals for the disestablishment of the Church of England, that is, to remove the Anglican Church's status as the state church of England, Ireland, and Wales. // The establishment was maintained in England, but in Ireland the Church of Ireland (Anglican) was disestablished in 1871. In Wales, four Church of England dioceses were disestablished in 1920, subsequently becoming the Church in Wales. // The question of disestablishment of the Church of England is still current, often tied with the position of the English monarch as "Supreme Governor" of the Church (see Act of Settlement 1701). Those who wish to continue the establishment of the Church of England are referred to as Antidisestablishmentarians. (wikipedia)
- 17A: Florida's ___ Park Race Track (HIALEAH) — Who can forget the THRILLA in HIALEAH!? Classic. (15A: Start of a big 1975 sports event?)
- 2D: An apostle (PHILIP) — of all the PHILIPs... come on. Boo. Boring.
- 23A: Winthrop's affliction in "The Music Man" (LISP) — whose what?
- 38D: Structural piece bent 90˚ along its long dimension (ANGLE IRON) — pfft. Next.
- 50A: London borough with Wembley Stadium (BRENT) — again ... of all the BRENTs. Boring / obscure.
- 65A: Chanel fragrance "pour homme" (EGOISTE) — sounds vaguely familiar, but I needed a lot of help from crosses.
- 39D: Sheet music notations (TABLATURES) — I was trying to make this something like E NATURAL for a while...
- 13D: Story from Joyce's "Dubliners" ("EVELINE") — never read Joyce. Not a word. Weird, right?
- 31A: Like many blog comments, informally (ANON.) — when I realized there might be a rebus in play, I briefly considered that the answer here might be A[NG]RY.
- 36A: Cousins of blackbirds (GRACKLES) — black with a weird bluish sheen. We get them on our lawn quite a bit.
- 40A: Creamlike paint shade (EGGSHELL) — big big help. Got this answer off just the final "L"
- 1A: It often contains "lies" (EPITAPH) — absolutely fantastic clue. Just what a 1-Across clue should be. I also enjoyed 60A: Mama grizzly, south of the border (OSA). Are there grizzlies in Mexico?
- 66A: Astronaut's favorite dessert? (MOON PIE) — piece of cake, just like the entire SE corner. Weird contrast to rest of the puzzle.
- 26D: Class with Browning and Golding, say (ENGLISH LIT) — those of you horrified at my non-Joyce-reading will be happy to know that a. this clue was transparent, b. I've read both the authors mentioned, and c. I know enough about ENGLISH LIT to know that there is no one class that would feature both these writers (unless the topic of that class is "random books I pulled off my shelf"). Further, the first man who came to mind when I saw "Golding" was not the "Lord of the Flies" guy, but the Renaissance translator of Ovid. Arthur Golding. You heard me.