Bonus puzzle: Caleb Madison's Bard Bulletin crossword, "A Swift Response." It's a 19x19 to accommodate the theme, and if you've been plugged into pop culture this fall, you'll dig it. (Link is for a Java applet; here's an Across Lite link.)
Brad Wilber's New York Times crossword
Would you look at all the cool answers in here? Tyler Hinman was just saying on Twitter that "68 is the sweet spot for themelesses" because "68 is where you start to get the eye-pop factor without resorting to obscurities." Brad's 72-word grid may not have so much in the way of eye-pop, but the fill's highlights (and the twistiest clues) do offer brain-pop. To wit:
If you know your Greek roots/medical terminology, you can piece together what achromotrichia is even if you've never seen the word before (as I had not). 49D: [Start developing achromotrichia] clues GO GRAY, as in hair.
I wasn't as pleased with the EX-YANKEE and OXHIDE (though I like the Scrabbly letters). Crosswordese EELY ENE AGAR, meh. The Italian word GLI is not so well-known, I think—61A: [Los : Spanish :: ___ : Italian]. Speaking of Italy, MODENA is the [Maserati headquarters city] and where that yummy balsamic vinegar comes from, SBARRO is a poor [Alternative to Uno Chicago Grill], and LIRA is the [Old capital of 36-Across] (meaning the old unit of currency used in Modena).
Overall, good stuff. I do like a 72-worder if it's packed with goodies the way this puzzle is.
Updated Saturday morning:
sloth machines yield to today's exercise regimen. In a four-step process to shake off the lethargy and get movin', we:
Kyle Dolan's Los Angeles Times crossword
I suspect this is the constructor's major newspaper crossword debut. If so, congratulations!
The puzzle's got an unusual grid, with two vertical 15s constituting a mini-theme: 6D, 9D: The mini-theme includes 6D: GREEN-COLLAR JOBS, or [Work in the environmental sector], and 9D: CARBON FOOTPRINT, or [Environmental impact factor]. Timely, since the international summit on climate change is coming up in Copenhagen this month.
Things that caught my eye:
Merle Baker's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
(PDF solution here.)
This one seemed a little more obliquely clued than the other recent Stumpers I've done. Among the clues I struggled with were these:
December 04, 2009