After yesterday's whirlwind, almost any puzzle would be a letdown, but seeing young Mr. Steinberg's name gave me hope. Overall, it was a good one, but I am not without a few complaints. The first of which is any mention at all of MICHELEBACHMANN (1A: First female candidate to win the Ames Straw Poll). I guess that was a historic event, but so was the fire-bombing of Dresden. They're not parallel in any way except that they both conjure up bad thoughts. Anyway, I first tried Hillary, knowing that it couldn't be true, and then tried "Michelle Bachman," before a few crosses corrected my misspelling. THELATELATESHOW (17A: It airs in the morning, ironically) was another answer that came very quickly, as was URBANDICTIONARY (61A: Big source for modern slang). I'm a little surprised that Mr. Shortz accepted that as fill, actually, but maybe he's never really delved very deeply into the resource. And if you, dear reader, are not familiar with it, all I can say is, tread lightly.
So with three fifteens quickly in place, the rest of the fill went pretty easily. It also seemed like we were dialed into this one. ITHACAN (2D: Odysseus, e.g.) was easy with a couple crosses - wasn't his home town just mentioned a week or two ago in a puzzle? And even EPAULET (27A: Possible rank indicator) came without trouble. The same was not true, however, of 47D: Emulates Homer. We were, of course, thinking of Mr. Simpson or the poet, without much success. Eventually, Frannie had PA_NTS, and we finally got it. Incidentally, Homer's house on Prout's Neck is being (or has been) refurbished, and is available for tours through the Portland Art Museum. It's in a lovely setting, overlooking the sea, and the rocks out in front (or is that in back?) were the setting for at least a few of Homer's more famous works.
Favorite clues? Well, 6D: Re-serve judgement? (LET) was right up there, and I loved the inclusion of the word BILIOUS, with it's literal clue: 8D: Ill-humored, and I liked the word AFLUTTER (37A: Like some lovers' hearts) too. "9D: Norwegian Star port of call" (ACAPULCO) was nicely misleading. I was a little shocked when "Oslo" would have left four blank squares! There were lots of good clues, really, but there seemed also to be lots of abbreviations, which I don't love. I know they're a fact of life in crosswords, but there were at least 13, and I'm not even sure whether or not that includes USBPORT (43D: Modern mouse hole?), but really, that one was fine.
It seems Frannie just looked up EGERIA (7D: Female adviser) after seeing it in a puzzle very recently, but neither of us could remember it, so again, we needed all the crosses. Perhaps the next time we see it we'll know it. And speaking of never remembering - things like MST (1D: Yellowstone setting: Abbr.) seem to get me without fail! I don't wear a watch, and I guess I'm just never thinking about time!
Overall this felt a little on the easy side for a Friday, and a little uneven (XESOUT is not a favorite), but it's hard to know if I'm judging it fairly, coming, as it does, on the heels of one of my favorite puzzles of the year.
On to Saturday!