What a year 2015 is turning out to be! Two puzzles, two fine grids. Just 363 more, Mr. Shortz, and you'll have a perfect year!
A pleasant surprise for me today when I opened the H&F crossword blog to find I was featured right up at the top. If we really keep this month by month switch-off through the year, I suppose I'll deserve to be listed up there, but I don't know that I've earned my byline just yet.
But to the real stuff here. Interesting how yesterday's grid and today's grid mirror each other, although Mr. Steinberg, whose puzzles I've learned to anticipate with glee, has chosen a much chunkier middle section, with 5 11-letter answers offset on top of each other. Not satisfied with that, he's put two other pairs of 11-letter answers atop or below 2 15-letter answers at the top and bottom of the grid. You may have read my literary moans and groans when having to slog through a puzzle of quad stacks. How much more elegant and well managed this grid is.
My favorite long answers are 14A: They may be marked with X's (ADULTMOVIES) - a bit of Huygens material there; 49A: Hocus-pocus (LEGERDEMAIN); 33A: Brand maker? (REDHOTPOKER (ew)); and 34A: Classic computer game played on a grid (MINESWEEPER), a game I played an awful lot of when I was supposed to be doing work in the Serial Records dept. at Widener Library. As an aside, what's with the apostrophe after the X in that first clue? Is it really necessary? I don't like it.
DEMOCRATICPARTY took way way too long for me to figure out (I wanted something with "depression" after seeing the first D). I don't like 33D: It might change color (RIPENER) or 43D: New ____ (AGER). I'm not sure why 35D: Fist-pounding boss, say is a TYRANT; seems like there are plenty of other possibilities there.
Benefits of having kids around: I knew 54A: Newbery Medal-winning author Eleanor (ESTES) without any crosses. On the other hand, why was POTATOES (11D: Fries things?) one of the last answers I put in? The brain works in mighty peculiar ways. Glad I'm a neurologist.