It took a long time of floundering around before I finally figured out the theme. I tried "brit" at 1A: Hitchcock, for one, crossing "berg" at 1D: Arctic shipping hazard, but had to take them out. I might have figured out the whole thing if I'd gone with my instincts of putting RUHR and ERAT in.
In any case, it wasn't until much later when I saw 25A: Like some sex with PREM_R__ filled in from crosses and realized at the same time that GENER was possible at 15A if you just let the AL slip off the side.
And there it is. The fricking puzzle has [AL]UMINUM / SIDING. That's some pretty funny stuff, and well done, considering that every across answer that hits the west or east side of the puzzle is missing an AL, which is the chemical symbol for aluminum, after all. The most brilliant is [AL]BERTEINSTEINMED[AL]. Way to make a 19-letter answer fit in a 15 x 15 grid!
I'd never heard of [AL]ATEEN before. It's a support group for adolescents from families with alcoholics in them, so that's worthy as far as I'm concerned.
The reconfigured 1A, answer [AL]FRED gets an A-, even though technically it's part of the theme. The rest of the puzzle has not much of interest in it. My error came because I refused to believe that 41D: Punk would be LOUSY. Is "punk" here to be used as an adjective? Is that allowed? I wanted LOUSe and tried to convince myself that [AL]IMONe was some kind of pluralization.
Also, I don't love 59A: Pilgrims John and Priscilla ([AL]DENS). It's a little ad hoc for the theme's sake.
Otherwise, I enjoyed the puzzle. I do enjoy a puzzle that literally thinks outside the box.
P.S. This is the second debut puzzle in a row! Once again, my congratulations and welcome to Mr. MacLachlan.
Nice! It took me a while, too ("berg" didn't stand, but ERAT did!), but it was worth the wait, and I agree, the central 19 was outstanding. [AL]ESELLERS and DOADE[AL] however, were not two of the better ones.
SNERT shows up again (!), and as you say, the theme is pretty much all today. But it's pretty good.
I loved the theme. It was pretty clear for a while that many of the answers I was thinking of weren't fitting (ALATEEN, which I am familiar with, anything for 19 A, whites/sperms/[AL]BINOS for the whales, etc). But it wasn't until I got to CASU[AL] that I tried hanging AL off the edge, and then quickly realized that AL worked for the lower right corner, then got most of the sides, and then got the revealer, quickish.ReplyDelete
The rest of the puzzle? Wish I could say YES to it, but almost NONE of the delight really lasted beyond finding the theme. ARNOLD? Had to Google. MULE crossing OLIN? Had to run the alphabet at the end. DOADE[AL]? Well, I guess, but pretty forced compared with make a deal or sign a deal or ink a deal or.... To a fair extent that's just my life on a Thursday. Positives? I liked CREPE (at least I wasn't solving on an empty stomach), ANTE was nicely clued, well and ERAT warms my mathematical cockles although I'm sure it is crosswordese to everyone else.
I loved the theme, and definitely the middle "19" was the best. [AL]OHASHIRTS is great, of course. Nice clue for MRED. Fun Thursday.