First of all, did anyone else see the little flashes that occurred when certain letters were put in? I think mine said "1/2 Done!" and "3/4 Done!," but I am not sure, because they kind of puffed out of the square and disappeared, and the first time it happened, I had already moved on to look at the next clue. For me, they appeared when I filled in the very SE square (last letter of 56-Down), and then the last letter of 59-Down. And those two answers aren't even part of the theme, so I think it must just be a new thing that shows your progress. And btw, I'm solving on a laptop on the web version. Not in Across Lite or the iPad app.
Anywhoo, that little bit of weirdness aside, we've got a nice puzzle today with an iceberg in it. I'm not sure whether the black squares are trying to make a picture of an iceberg or not, but we know it's in there because the tip of it is floating just above the surface of the puzzle! The letters I-C-E-B-E-R-G must be assumed above every other column, starting with 2-Down. I figured the C out pretty early on with [C]OVERCHARGES (4D: Entry fees), and then I think I got [I]SLAM and [E]MERGES, so for a while I thought it might just be "ICE" up there, maybe twice. Eventually, though, I got [B]ARES (7D: Exposes) and everything clicked.
The beautiful thing is that each theme answer is still a word without the hidden letter, but is clued to force it. It makes me wonder if this could ever happen accidentally. If I went back and carefully scrutinized every NYT puzzle, could I make words that would stick off the top (or sides or bottom) in a regular pattern? Seems unlikely, but who knows? These words all look pretty normal - "slam," "unit," "Ares," ... Seems like it could be a good project for someone like David Steinberg. How 'bout it, Dave? It would be pretty cool if you found one! And then, as a follow up question, could you then re-submit the exact same puzzle with new clues to support the found word(s)? Sounds like it could be "transformative use" to me!
Great clues today. The afore-pictured KONG was wonderful, "Exchange of swear words?" makes IDOS totally acceptable, "It's between an A and a B" (NINETY) was tricky. (I feel like on a Saturday, the articles would have been left out, which would have made it even harder.)
It's a shame about SEARACE crossing PRATE, but, well, what are you going to do? It's not the worst I've seen. And I'm kind of amused by ATEOF (40A: Tasted), but I would have been more amused if the clue had been "Tasted, biblically." Heh. No. Maybe not.
Fun, Thursday, and a solid start to the Turn!