I thought I was going go out in a blaze of glory by solving today's puzzle in record time, but I was stymied by some trixy clues in the northwest and southeast, resulting in last-puzzle-of-the-year time of 20:32, which would have been a kickass time if only I had solved it nine seconds faster!
Although I dropped the answer to 1A right in, answers to other clues in that section were "Few and far between" (SPARSE) at first. The opposite was true for the northeast where I guessed FANBASES, enabling me to complete that section, including the unknown-to-me TOADETTE, to a great xSTENT all in one go. I moved on to the gimme-for-my-age-group, ZIGGYSTARDUST, and continued my rampage through the southwest, only to be pulled up short in the southeast. In the southwest, a false start of BEarS instead of BERGS caused by the clever non-QMC clue "Sights in the Arctic" (SEAMY list of QMCVSnon-QMC clues below), never GUMMEDUP the works.
OTH, despite a high confidence level in both ESPERANTO ("Language with its own 'green star' flag") and TERAFLOP ("Large unit of computing speed"), the KRAFT of the clue "Producer of many singles" clogged my answer artery. I was further put off piste by having initially guessed twoTON as a "Kind of pickup" instead of the correct ONETON. Also, I couldn't quite remember how to spell DENTYNE.
The constructor managed to FITIN a ton of great clues, of both the QMC and non-QMC variety. I am giving the advantage to the Non-QMC clues today. Judge for yourself:
"Turning point in construction?" (SCREW) - I turned this one over in my head forever before figuring it out.
"Lab order?" (HEEL) - Cute, but this one didn't give me much paws.
"Didn't wait for a restaurant job?" (BUSED) - I got this one in short order.
"At a high interest rate?" (KEENLY) - Excellent return on investment, once I figured it out.
"Fret about a fricassee?" (STEW) - I might have gotten this one sooner if I had known what a fricassee was. :|
"In on" (WISETO)
"One end of it might be felt" (INKPEN)
"Understand without listening" (READLIPS)
"Sort of spectacles not much seen nowadays" (PINCENEZ)
"Long division" (EON) - nice.
"Floors in a ring" (KOS) - excellent!
I also enjoyed the clue "Grubby little paws" and the answer SWISHED. In sum, hats off to this FINE finish, and a big thank you to all who make the NYTX a fun feature of every day.
See you next year, dear Readers! I wish you all a very happy New Year.