Good morning to all! It's been a bit of an odd week, crosswordwise. I haven't felt like the puzzles have been well-matched to the days, as we usually see. But today, Mr. Ezersky presents a nice and challenging Saturday.
Well, mostly I felt it was on the easy side, until I spent about three minutes in the NE.
I broke in with the very easy 2D: Youngest-ever QB to be named Super Bowl M.V.P. (2020) (MAHOMES), leading to SET, EMUS, and AGEOUTOF. I like 1A: Squarely (SMACKDAB), which is so crunchy with its letters and very colloquial. EAGLEOWL is fine, but IHEARYOU a little bland.
Once again, even if Cece was still asleep and unable to help me, her age (and obsession with Ariana Grande) helped me with 7D: What God is, per an Ariana Grande hit (AWOMAN). ZOOMBOMBING is all too familiar nowadays. My favorite story is from a friend of mine who was teaching a class, when in the background of one of her female students, a fully nude young man arose from the bed and walked out of the picture. Later on, it became apparent that it could not have been her boyfriend when the student alluded to dating a Black man...
I put in PANELTRUCKS, and then took the "truck" out because I put REice in at 31A: Make slicker, maybe (REOIL, one of my few dislikes today). I had to abandon that area due to that issue and made my way through the SW.
I put in POTTER____, and then even got the last three letters through crosses, but didn't know for certain what the M would be, so left it blank. This corner was fine (I'm not sure what "Blue-nosed sorts?" is even referring to - when I google it, it comes up with a breed of pitbull, so maybe?). Also 41A: What rotates throughout the office? (SWIVELCHAIR). That's an odd QMC - is there anything that rotates in an office? What is it getting at?
I loved the SE corner. I laughed at the chutzpah required for 61A: Date format on digital forms (MMDDYYYY). I think that choice allowed for some much more interesting answers, such as MAKESHAY, SPARKY, and 44D: Country song (ANTHEM).
Finally I moved up to my trouble spot. I guessed at MOOCOW. Anybody tell me why 9D: Eye-opening declaration? is AMEN? I had _ONG____ at 10D, and when I saw SONGWRITER, everything fell into place quickly. 24A: Watch here! (WRIST) is brilliant.
Over to Horace tomorrow.