It's already proven to be an odd week for a number of reasons. I'll leave the insanity of the nation out of it. I'll happily report having received my second dose of the COVID vaccine today. And then there are the puzzles of the NYT.
Today's vies with yesterday's for Wednesday esprit. The theme is phrases in the form of "X and Y" where both X and Y start with the same letter. They are then placed so that X goes across and Y goes down from the same starting point. Thus, "1A/1D: Rubberneck" is represented as STOP[AND]STARE.
I am quite impressed that Mr. Bornstein was able to come up with seven examples of this that would fit into a 15 x 15 grid. Most of them work perfectly. TRIED[AND]TRUE, PRIM[AND]PROPER, STARS[AND]STRIPES.
I am less convinced by 43A/D: Footwear fashion faux pas (SOCKS[AND]SANDALS). All the others are widely used and standard phrases. This last is more something people snigger about (or wear proudly, if you roll that way).
Given all of this theme material, I'm impressed at what else was able to fit into the grid. 8D: Raised one's spirits? (MADEATOAST) is a great QMC. And KNOCKITOFF, in the symmetric space, is a great exclamation answer.
Of course there are some tradeoffs. RONI crossing RONA; the ancient bit of crosswordese RIATA. But I like FOMO and TOOFAR.
Finally, I think TIERTWO is an unfortunate example of an ad hoc answer, one that holds no useful meaning outside of the requirements of the crossword puzzle. I can't think of any time I've heard that phrase used in actual life.
In any case, I'm amazed at the theme, and send props to the constructor.