The boy wonder returns! Sixteen-year-old Natan Last...Will's neighbor, if I'm not mistaken...delivers his first Sunday New York Times puzzle.
And it's nothing short of brilliant.
Before I get into the theme, I want to address the discrepancy between the print and online versions. An additional clue had to be added to make it work in Across Lite...so nothing after 56A will match up. Thanks to Crossword Fiend for a heads-up on this [and for letting me know that 17-year-old Natan isn't Will's neighbor...that's Oliver Hill.]
I'll include the clue numbers for both...the first will be the online number, and the paper version will appear after in [red]. I'll also post both solutions (identical, except for the numbering) at the end...large enough that you should be able to see the numbers.
The theme is revealed at 81 A: Subject of this puzzle [and proceeding counterclockwise] (TRIGONOMETRY)...making a very nice triangle. In the paper, there is no number at the E. The online version, though, shows it as 57D, clued as [See 81-Across].
The three functions...sine (sin), cosine (cos) and tangent (tan)...each appear twice in the grid, contained in one square. The theme answers are:
12A: "The Simpsons" character who often refers to himself in the third person (DISCO STU), crossing at 15D: "Seinfeld" character (COSMO KRAMER). Two shows I've never seen, but I've heard enough about both of them.
24A: Something to play (CAT AND MOUSE), crossing with 6D: See 37-Across (SATAN)...another theme answer (see next).
37A: One succumbing to 6-Down (SINNER), crossing with 3D: Whence the line "Into the eternal darkness; into fire and into ice" (DANTE'S INFERNO)...the giveaway that we were looking at a rebus.
105A [104A]: Strip joints? (CASINOS), crossing with 70D [69D]: Like things (TWO PEAS IN A POD)...my favorite answer.
108A [107A]: Buttonholes (ACCOSTS), crossing with 80D [79D]: Aggressiveness (BELLICOSITY).
117A [116A]: Like any points on a circle, from the center (EQUIDISTANT), crossing with 113D [112D]: Anthem part (STANZA)...which gave away the second function. That sent me hunting for the third...in corners where I had a lot of blanks up to that point.
Was I kidding about brilliant? And some of the fill is just phenomenal.
22A: How Mulan dresses in much of "Mulan" (as a man)...a gimme.
26A: Numbers game (Sudoku)...this may be its first appearance in a NYT puzzle.
44A: "Don't worry about me" (I'm fine).
46A: Archbishop Tutu (Desmond)...the clue was too easy for a Sunday, though.
57A: Home of Canadian P.M. Stephen Harper (Alberta).
62A [61A]: When the sun is directly overheard (at midday)...not high noon or at twelve.
67A [66A]: Facilities (restrooms).
73A [72A]: Thin-framed, big-footed woman of cartoons (Olive Oyl).
88A [87A]: Skateboarder's accessory (kneepad). I've never tried it. I had enough accidents on rollerblades...the worst injury happened when I landed on my rear and got a severe case of whiplash. That meant it was time to hang them up.
90A [89A]: Rim in which a gem is set (collet).
91A [90A]: Guessing game (Hangman)...the girls used to play that for hours.
97A [96A]: Jazz singer Nina (Simone).
110A [109A]: New York governor after Pataki (Spitzer).
115A [114A]: Drink whose name is Tahitian for "good" (mai tai). I never much cared for them, but they flow freely (and free) in Hawaii, so I acquired a taste for them.
1D: "Speed-the-Plow" playwright (Mamet).
7D: PC data reader (CD drive).
11D: What those in agreement are said to be of (one mind).
17D: "__ pro omnibus, omnes pro uno" (unus). One for all, all for one.
19D: 1950s stereotype (beatnik).
25D: Joan Rivers's daughter and TV co-host (Melissa). I hope she won't follow in her mother's footsteps...to the plastic surgeon. Enough is enough.
47D: "Love of loves" (my darling)...I wanted something in Spanish or French.
53D: Oaf (sad sack). Does anyone else remember the comic book character by that name?
82D [81D]: Played (gambled).
89D [88D]: Poop (exhaust).
92D [91D]: Relic (antique).
112D [111D]: Jerry Scott/Jim Borgman comic (Zits)...one of my all-time favorites. I feel sorry for poor Connie and Walt...
There was also some great cluing.
27A: They're left behind (estates).
32A: Saw things (teeth).
40A: It might be silver (lining).
52A: Single, for one: Abbr. (syn)...the most clever clue in the puzzle.
56A: Star in old westerns (badge). Until I figured out where they were going, I had LaRue...a crossword regular.
60A [59A]: "Great" boy detective (Nate). When I was a TA, one of the students signed his papers N8. Does that make the boy detective GR8?
78A [77A]: Chest protector (ribcage).
100A [99A]: Gag reflex? (ha ha).
125A [124A]: Salty septet (seas). I think we've had that before, clued the same way.
61D [60D]: Place for a swing (tee).
79D [78D]: "Do what you want" (I don't care).
[UPDATE: Thanks to Wendy for pointing out the error in the grids...not in one, but both! 86A [85A] clued as [Thought] is ideated, crossing with 66D [65D] Makes up? (elates). I was trying to get elaborates in there...when I knew there was a rebus...apparently I never went back and fixed things!]
With that, I'm going to wrap this up. I'm cross-eyed from going back and forth between the two puzzles.
Here are the grids, with the online version appearing first...
...followed by the print version.
And I'll see you tomorrow.