What do you get when you cross Wednesday with Thursday? An odd duck puzzle with a rebus theme, of course! Although I was surprised not to see the "series" of celebrity crossword constructors announced yesterday continue today, I very much enjoyed this meta-puzzle.
The grid breaks the rules of crosswording because of its ASYMMETRY, announced at 35A (which I would have missed actually). There are extra black squares at the end of 6D, 13D, 52D, and 54D. But their symmetrical counterparts are rebuses of the word "black", thus making up the matching black squares! Very clever, in my opinion
I got the rebus idea very early on, at 1A with [BLACK]BOARD, which is ungraded due to its theme status. My first confident answer was actually 4D: "Modern Family" network (ABC). My favorite rebus crossing is INTHE[BLACK] and THE[BLACK]KEYS, both for the oddity of having the rebus in the middle of the down answer and because its a great use of a contemporary band name (yeah, they started in 2001, but multiple Grammys in the 2010s, right?).
I love TERMINATOR and AESTHETICS, and the oddly clued 18A: Grunts (PRIVATES) - only odd in that it seems like that word could be clued in a much bluer sense, and then the actual clue starts to look a little blue as well. Or at least to my eyes, suddenly.
I'll overlook bits like SES and AUS and LEV for a theme this clever.