The Turn kicks into high gear today with an nearly perfect themeless from Mr. Knapp.
OK, where to start? I'll pick the end, which for me was the T of SHIFTS (Uses a manual, say) and ROTE (Mindless). Both answers were completely opaque to me until there was nothing but that last letter left, and then "bam!" both were perfect. So well concealed, especially after "Kind of manual" (HOWTO) so close by.
And can we talk about the cluing? It starts immediately at 1-Across - "Ballpark figure" (BATBOY), which is great, and along the same lines as "Shower heads, perhaps" (MAIDSOFHONOR). So good. And how about "Peels off?" for ZESTS? They're peels, that are off! It's one of those "obvious once you understand it" clues, like "There's often a lot of them for sale" (USEDCARS) or "Nested layers?" (HENS). Lovely. And how about the beautiful "One getting fired up for competition?" (STARTERPISTOL). It gets fired up to start a competition! How do they come up with this stuff?
I liked learning LOOKBOOK (Fashion designer's portfolio) and EGODEATH (Complete loss of self-identity), and it was fun to see OUTRE (Really weird), which I just used in the review on Wednesday.
There's a lot to like about this one. Clever clues were mixed with standard clues, and when that happens, I even start over-thinking the obvious ones like "Symbols of strength" (OAKS). Sure, there were a few names I didn't know, but there was nothing I'd call junk.
Let's just end with one more great clue: "Number shown in brackets?" (SEED). In case you couldn't tell, I loved it. Hope you did too.