Circles in my Sunday puzzle! Color me a happy solver.
The theme of this joint effort is GETTING AHEAD...literally. The circled letters are all parts of a head, with each part in its appropriate place. I tried to draw the head, but I'm not sure it will be all that visible when I post it.
[UPDATE: I just read that there were actually four constructors on this puzzle, but the NYT can only list two in the byline. Andrew M. Greene and Craig Kasper were the two named, but Todd McClary and Jeffrey Harris were also responsible for this well-executed puzzle.]
Taking it from the top:
21A: Toddler's mealtime accessory (BOOSTER CHAIR)
29A: Quarters for a business, e.g. (FISCAL PERIODS)
54A: Safari, e.g. (WEB BROWSER)
64A: Persuaded with flattery (BLARNEYED)
66A: Noted explorer of Polynesia (HEYERDAHL)
76A: Time in which light travels one foot, approximately (NANOSECOND)
100A: Astronomical events that occur twice or more a year (LUNAR ECLIPSES)
113A: Nested set of containers (CHINESE BOXES)
And on either side of the head:
53D: Be weighed down (BEAR THE BURDEN)
15D: Empathetic one, derisively (BLEEDING HEART)
This was nothing short of brilliant. I don't remember the exact point (or part) where it became obvious, but I then went back and filled in circles. I didn't notice the placement of the parts until I was almost finished. Brilliant...I can't say it enough. I'm in awe.
I go nuts with clues that refer to one another in some circular fashion, forcing me to read and reread them. Like...1A: See 7-Across; 7A: Product whose 1-Across is a 61-Across; 61A: Snack item. When all is said and done, it's fairly obvious. An I-Mac (7A) has an apple (61A) as its emblem (1A).
If I ever knew 81A: Creatio ex __ (Christian tenet) was nihilo, I've forgotten it. I got it from crosses, but looked it up to see its meaning...creation out of nothing.
I didn't know 70A: 1940s-'50s Dodger who was a 10-time All-Star (Reese), but guessed it when I had the R*E*E in place. Turns out it's PeeWee Reese, and I have heard the name somewhere.
Loved 58A: Idiot (cretin). Just something funny about the word. I can think of a few off the top of my head...no one who reads this blog is included in that list.
18A: Heavy-duty hand soap (Boraxo). All I could think of was Lava, but I had the last letter and guessed correctly. That meant that 4D: Steve Martin romantic comedy wasn't All of Me, which was my first answer. The correct answer is L.A. Story, which I didn't see...maybe never heard of. According to this article, he also wrote it.
26D: In short supply (sparse). I had scarce. Once I got the theme, I knew there wasn't a head part that ended in C.
Didn't know 71A: Particle created by a cosmic ray (muon), but it fit. Also didn't know 98A: Teahouse floor covering (tatami)...apparently some kind of fiber mat.
My favorite answers include 24A: Battle report? (rat-a-tat); 35A: Lorre's "Casablanca" role (Ugarte); 13D: Political asset (charisma); 62D: Sports bar wall decoration (pennant); 75D: Polite (civil)...took me forever to see it; 82D: Save for later (lay aside); and 93D: Cry of triumph after "Whew!" (I made it).
Here's the grid...I can't see the circle, but you can probably picture it there.
Don's home from his week-long trip. It's nice to be back to normal.
See you tomorrow.