Today's puzzle is the other side of the argument I put forth yesterday. With five long theme answers, the 15 x 15 grid is definitely strained. Note the five answers that have to cross three theme answers. I am impressed by Mr. Trudeau's work here: of those answers, only POPON seems ad hoc. And CRAISINS (despite the brand name) and NOTAGAIN are very nice.
Still, I think the presence of answers like those old chestnuts, ALOU, IROC, and ITT show how hard this kind of puzzle can be to fill well.
Meanwhile, the FINISHINGTOUCH here is well done. At the end of the other theme answers is a synonym for touching, in each case used in a sense that does not mean to touch within the phrase. Thus, BUYAPIGINAPOKE, where the "poke" comes from the French "poche" for bag. See? Learning something new from the NYT crossword is so much more fun than high school history class. For example.
The puzzle won me over with two answers: THISISSPINALTAP, one of my all time favorite movies, especially wonderful when you realize just how much of it was improvised. The other answer comes from my work environment: I was astonished to find BROCASAREA in the puzzle, especially on a Tuesday! This portion of dominant hemisphere frontal lobe cortex is essential for expression of language. For a Neurologist, it's like a little birthday present there in the SW corner.
Meanwhile, the rest of the grid does not cover itself in GLORY. I think I need say nothing more than ZINCS and we'll have done with it.