This was a maddening puzzle for me! So, to say I’m totally shocked that I was able to complete it and do so error-free is an understatement.
It took me quite a while to figure out what the commands in the parentheses were all about, i.e., the trick. And even so, while I got three of the directionals (I’ll explain below why the fourth eluded me), I managed not to hone in on the GET part, and only understood it entirely after I read some of the comments on Rex Parker’s site. Then there were answers that I knew were definitely correct from the get-go (pun intended) but had me totally frustrated when they wouldn’t work for one reason or another.
There are four theme answers:
18-Across: Gripping read [“Get back!”] Immediately, I’m thinking “page turner,” but I couldn’t make the first four letters work with the other answers in that section which I knew for certain were correct. The answer turned out to be a gobbledegook phrase, PATEGURNER, with the word GET included backwards. Frankly, I think “back” is a very poor clue when one is meant to think of a word written “backwards.”
61-Across: 1977 W.W. II film [“Get lost!”] After putting in a few letters, I knew that the correct answer was “A Bridge Too Far.” However, there were too many letters for the available spaces. That had me thinking this puzzle was a rebus, a very popular format on Thursdays. So, I put DGET together in one square. But it wasn’t working out, so I erased it. Eventually, I realized this was another case of gobbledegook. The bracketed clue meant that GET was to be lost, i.e., left out. Ergo, ABRIDOOFAR.
24-Across: Oil Containers [“Get down!]. Answer: STOREAGE TANKS. Another case of not having enough spaces across for the word “storage.” I eventually realized that I needed to go down the grid and then across: 25D. – = GET/33A. – = TANKS
50-Across: Amherst and Orono, for two [“Get up!”]. Answer: COLLEGE TOWNS. Another instance where I knew right away that these were college towns, but there were not enough spaces for the answer to fit. This time, going up the grid and across provided enough squares: 43D. – = TEG/43A- = TOWNS.
There were two places on the grid where I made mistakes but corrected them.
20-Across: New York City’s _____ Place. I immediately wrote in TUDOR, but when that wasn’t working, I changed it to ASTOR.
11-Down: Brazzaville inhabitants. After getting a few letters, I wrote in KENYANESE but eventually realized the correct answer was CONGOLESE.
In the category of it helps to know your Shakespeare:
34-Down: First word of “Richard III.” Answer: NOW (“Now is the winter of our discontent.”)
In the category of learning something new every day:
45-Down: Prominent feminist blog. Answer: JEZEBEL. According to Rex Parker via Wiki, it’s owned by Gawker under the tag line, “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing.”