Deb Amlen is no newcomer to crossword construction...her puzzles have been in the New York Sun, the LA Times and BUST magazine, among others...but I think this is her first for the New York Times. We'll see if JimH confirms that.
I loved this puzzle! It had the dazzling combination of an entertaining theme, Scrabbly letters, and plenty of spicy fill.
The theme answers consist of four in-the-language phrases, with RE added at the beginning. The resulting phrases are then very cleverly clued. The best part...each answer uses a different synonym for reminisce.
17A: Reminisce about a nice facial outline? (REMEMBER PROFILE).
27A: Reminisce about spring cleaning? (RECOLLECT DUST).
47A: Reminisce about working in a restaurant? (RECALL WAITING).
63A: Reminisce about a pig-out? (RECOUNT CALORIES).
Yep...I was way impressed with this one. But it's 10:45, so this will have to be a quick write-up.
14A: Vega of "Spy Kids" movies (Alexa), crossing at the X with 4D: Give the boot (axe).
21A: Cartoon villain Badenov (Boris). Before I started doing the New York Times puzzle, I don't think I remembered that he had a last name.
22A: Gangsters' gals (molls).
40A: Tense subject? (grammar).
60A: Not spoken (tacit). Nice cross at 45D: Salsa percussion (maracas).
62A: Buddhist sect (Zen), crossing with 30D: People rival (Us Magazine).
68A: Minister's home (manse). Thank heaven for crosses.
1D: Corday's victim (Marat).
2D: Actress Verdugo (Elena). Her name is in the grid often...remember her.
3D: Like a blue state (Democratic).
6D: Lagasse of the Food Network (Emeril). Tie-in at 44A: Catchword of 6-Down (bam).
7D: Big bully (gorilla).
18D: U2 frontman (Bono). This is my absolute favorite song by U2.
48D: Unlike this answer (across). My favorite clue in the puzzle.
Unless I'm imagining things, we recently had a discussion about oatmeal in the comments section of this blog...and here it is in the puzzle (maybe again?). Today it's at 37A, clued as [Common breakfast fare]. Definitely common fare for me...I have it at least five days a week.
The combination of a late night and an early morning isn't my favorite, so it's off to bed. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.