A fun Friday offering from Mr. Chen today, with just the right amount of SECRETSAUCE. I can almost hear him letting out that AAH after dropping in that lovely bit of fill. And to pile SPARETIRE and AUNATUREL (14A: Bare) (excellent) on top of it, well, that's a nice corner.
The NE holds up well too, with IGUANODON, TARANTINO, and SNLHOSTS (13D: Some sketch show V.I.P.s). It's nice to have a little something after SNL for once. I TSKED at TSKED, but only a little bit.
"Drives" was a lovely bit of misdirection for TEESHOTS. Well, at least it misdirected me! And I had jeSTER at "44A: Court figure whose job is to detect [POISON]" (TASTER). Didn't they sometimes fill that role? ...
I loved ZISFORZEBRA (51A: Primer finish), and spent a long time trying to fit something having to do with "matte" or "dull" in there... sheesh! I was not familiar with DINA (61A: Merrill in movies), which made PRMAN (48D: Spinner) very difficult to see. Also tricky were the clues for ADORN (57A: Trim) and SOBS (52D: Doesn't just tear up), which I think of as classic tricky crossword clues. The first I was thinking of as an adjective, and the second I was pronouncing wrong. Hah!
SAGITTA (33A: Constellation between Cygnus and Aquila) is pretty darn obscure, and I didn't love CANTI (54A: "Pretty, pretty please?"), but that's not much to complain about. MARMALADE is strong, KIBITZED is fun... I'd say Mr. Chen ROCKEDIT.
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