Such a lovely, chunky grid today. Classic late-week look. Nine by three blocks (nearly nine by four) NW and SE, and five by fives in the other corners, and then those 4x4s on the sides and the steps in the middle. Lovely.
Unlike some reviewers, I never know how many words are in a grid. I think there's some easy way to figure it out, but I have never made the effort. This one seems like it's low, but not super low. How's that for perceptive, cutting edge reviewing? Take that Brian Rosenthal! Where's my Pulitzer!?
Sorry. It's early.
So anyway, I liked the look, and Ms. Zawistowski's byline struck a bit of fear into me, but this one flowed so smoothly that I ended up finishing it in just 7:17, which, for me, is a quick Friday.
Remember when we used to rate 1-Across? That was fun. Today, it gets an A. "What's not to like?" is an excellent clue for an excellent answer - BETENOIRE. Hah! I didn't know what BOXBRAIDS were before, but it's always nice to learn something from a puzzle. And speaking of - I also loved the "Bearer of the earth in Iroquois creation stories" clue for TURTLE. GETSOME (Find satisfaction, slangily) was fun, ARMOREDCARS (Valuable carriers) and IMAGINETHAT ("Well, there's a surprise!") were nice long-ish answers, and LEMONDE (Daily in Paris) (quotidienne didn't fit) makes me wonder if I could build a crossword theme out of words where an A has been removed (lemonade -- le monde). I'll have to work on that...
Lots to like today. Happy Friday!