We were on vacation last week, and during the week we did a few old NYT Sunday puzzles that I had received maybe fifteen years ago, when someone had enrolled me in the NYT puzzle of the month club, or something like that. They were edited by Eugene Maleska and Will Weng. We have not done many pre-Shortz puzzles, and were surprised by the number of terribly obscure words and crosswordese. I know David Steinberg is working on the Pre-shortzian Puzzle Project, but up until now, I had not looked at it. I hope to spend some time there in the near future, seeing if the obscurity and general "bad-ness" was a hallmark of the pre-Shortz era, or if we just got a few bum puzzles.
Anyway, the experience with the old puzzles was perhaps why I was ready to enter "enholster" for 92A: Cover, in a way (UPHOLSTER), but "imnress" didn't really look good for 95D: Blow away (IMPRESS). We did, however, have to put in one of my least favorite crossword words, REUNE for 112A: Get the old gang together, and TITER (117A: Strength of a solution) is a bit obscure.
At least one of us found the theme to be clever. 102A: Niece's polite interruption? (AUNTIEAHEM) might have been my favorite, but HOOKAHLINEANDSINKER (62A: Equipment list for a hashish-smoking fisherman?) was pretty good, too. In non-theme stuff, I thought FLEA (6A: Cat nipper?) and POESY (57A: Burns books?) were good. But there was a bit too much FARAD, BAWD, ASHY and ATRI for me to love it.