Sort of a strange grid pattern today. Side-to-side symmetry and that cross in the middle. I mean, there is a "crossing" theme of sorts, but, oh, wait … maybe it has to do with Holy Week? I thought to myself "that's a little morbid, to have that cross right in the middle like that…" but now I guess it's because of Easter. Well… maybe more because of Good Friday than Easter, but, well… ok. The rebus theme - and this is actually more of a rebus than those multi-letter-in-one-square puzzles that everyone calls rebuses, because this one is a picture puzzle, with certain words going right through other words, and the word "through" being used in the answer - was pretty nice, and had nothing, so far as I could tell, to do with any religion.
Let's look at a few - WENT through THEROOF (23A: With 13-Down, blew one's stack) - nice clue, PAID through THENOSE (24A: With 15-Down, spent way too much money for something) - nice phrase that you don't see in crosswords, and SHOT through THEHEART (43A: With 30-Down, hit dead-on) - this is what would have happened in 33 C.E. if the Romans had had firearms. Too soon?
It was a fairly easy solve, but maybe because Frannie understood the rebus pretty quickly, and then everything except the NW went quite smoothly. It was Frannie, again, who thought of GOON (1A: Mob muscle), because I was completely blanking on that one. Had "GApe" and then "GAWk" before finally ending on GAWP (1D: Stare with an open mouth) thanks to PROWESS (19A: Superior skill). That's a nice word, PROWESS, and I'm going to need more of it before going to the crossword puzzle tournament next year!
Astronomy buffs will certainly enjoy seeing TYCHO (15A: Astronomer ____ Brahe) in the grid, and the same goes for poetry/criticism buffs and TSELIOT (21A: Pioneer in New Criticism). There are a lot of threes, and one sees the seemingly inevitable junk like NES, KAT, SDS, ASA, DRT, and MUS, but even with all that, I still enjoyed the puzzle. I guess I just like a gimmicky puzzle. Is that so wrong?