Happy December, everyone! I hope Thanksgiving treated you well. It certainly did for me and my family, as we got to see Hamilton, which was just as awesome as we hoped it would be. If you haven't listened to it (available through streaming), it's well worth the two hours.
But now, we're back to the NYT crossword. I very much enjoyed Horace's reviews this past month. It's a nice thing to trade months like this, as it gives a chance to rejuvenate your reviewing mojo, even while being inspired by good reviews.
And today's puzzle doesn't disappoint. It's really a pretty clever bit of theming, appropriate for the Thursday slot. There are three 17-letter answers, neatly squeezed into a 15 x 15 grid, through the use of a BEANDIP: in each case the extra letters take a southern detour around a black square, and the letters that dip are a kind of bean, namely a "baked" bean, a "green" bean, and a "magic" bean. I love the last one!
The three long answers are all completely standard phrases. Who doesn't love a LOADEDB[AKE]DPOTATO? All of those artery-clogging ingredients... mmmm... Bacon...
Oh, sorry, got lost there for a second. ANNEOFG[REE]NGABLES is a well known children's book, musical, movie, television series. And so on. And for those solvers who don't have children, THEM[AGI]CSCHOOLBUS is a more modern version of the same: both a series of kids' books and an animated television series. We always loved these books because they made science fun, but also because the "new" girl in all of the books was named Phoebe. She's the girl in the red dress, if I remember correctly.
Anyway, there's some pretty good fill, and some not so great fill. I actually broke in with LBAR of all things, one of my least favorite type of crossword answers (along with t-nut, i-bar, etc.). OHOS is also not so pretty, along with ATRAS (brand name, plural) and CRAT and ZINE (partial suffixes, blah).
On the plus side, I love PELAGIC. What a great word. Also BASSLINE, which are featured heavily in Hamilton. Did I mention we just saw it? Oh, yeah, I did. 24D: Yosemite runner (IMAC) should never have been so hard to get for me. I also liked SADLOT and WETKISS.
1A: Supershort skirts (MICROS) gets a B, and only because I enjoy the image it conjurs up.
I put in my last letter (maybe the C in CINE) without understanding what was going on, and it took a several seconds for me to find the dips. When I saw the dashes I fixated on the idea that the black square would play some role, by hiding various letters or whatever. When I got BEANDIP I was too close to the end to mess around trying to figure it out. Luckily, everything was right!
PELAGIC reminds me that I still haven't taken Ancient Greek, and I think that SCAD (54D: Slew) is really only used in the plural to mean "a lot." I might even go so far as to say it's wrong in the singular.
But aside from that, I enjoyed the puzzle. LAMAZE (Labor day class?) was funny, and I, too, was stumped for way too long on IMAC. Hah!
Great theme. WETKISS (7A Sloppy smooch) is pretty funny, and was my first confident answer. AXIAL also went right in, as did LORAX and, really, a bunch of other stuff. I thought I had a pretty good time. I knew that there was something funky going on, and tried to enter a rebus with ANNEOFGREENGABLES thus: ANNEOFG[REEN]GABLES, but ZI[REEN]E didn't seem quite right. Fun Thursday, even though it ended with the unfortunate plural SKEETS.