Soon it will be called "The New York Times Crossword, featuring David Steinberg."
I kid, I kid... It's nice to see him back so soon, and this time perhaps going for the record books as part of the youngest/oldest pair ever to publish a puzzle. I'm not familiar with Ms. Gordon, but I'm guessing she was the one who clued 29A: Laker legend Bryant (KOBE) and 9D: Chillax, with "out" (VEG). But seriously, it would have been fun to have a few more super old-timey words in the grid to go with the theme. I guess we got some Latin with 2D: Number between quinque and septem (SEX) and 1A: "Per aspera ad ____" (ASTRA), and I guess BEAU (45A: Belle's caller) is a little old-timey. Come to think of it, ENOCH (67A: Cain's eldest son) is too. I wonder if he was a beau to Bernice's belle?
OK, so they did add some nice old-timey clues, which is just gravy, because the theme was already quite nice. A couple clues with "AGE" added, a couple with it taken away, and a self-referencial revealer. Not long ago, the young Mr. Steinberg put his own name right through the middle of the grid. This time he's being a little more subtle, but he's still calling attention to the puzzle constructors. Heck, we think it's great. Er, I mean, Horace Fawley and Frances Page think it's great! Name recognition is important!
But back to the puzzle. Nice, clean fill, and lots of interestingness for a Wednesday. The first two puzzles this week left me a little cold, but this was a good lead-in to the big end-of-week trio. (I never know what to do with Sundays. They seem so different from the dailies that I can't really include them in the same category, so the "big end-of-week trio" for me is Thurs./Fri./Sat.) I liked the pair of Snow White clues - 57A: Prop in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (APPLE) and 70A: Beardless dwarf (DOPEY). The IGLOO clue was very nice (68A: Home unlikely to have air-conditioning), and for a while, the crosses had me wondering if 40A: Palms, e.g. was going to somehow be "conifers." It wasn't. (CONCEALS)(Not only are palms not conifers, they're not even true trees!)
Wow, there are tons of old clues if you look long enough. 49D: Keen (PEACHY), 41D: 1813's Battle of Lake ____ (ERIE)... and more. Now I'm starting to think maybe there should've been more "young" clues...
OK, that' probably enough on this one. Lots of good clues and fill. Very nice Wednesday.
p.s. Craziest theme clue/answer - 25A: Looting of a legislature? (DIETPILLAGE). It's nice, but I think that "Diet" in the case of the legislature is pronounced "DEET." Not terribly problematic, but I couldn't help mentioning it, and now I keep thinking of "deet pills."
p.p.s. You really should read the "Wordplay" blog entry for this puzzle (I link to the blog in the sidebar), in which both constructors are quoted extensively. Very interesting!
p.p.p.s. (This will be all, I promise!) Another of the blogs I link to (Diary of a Crossword Fiend) links to an interview that David Steinberg conducted with Bernice Gordon. Also very interesting. She was the first to publish a "rebus" puzzle in the NYT!