Welcome to week two! The first week was a lulu - out of nowhere a wild 600+ hits appeared - so a big thank you to all who stopped by. Since responses have been very favourable (that was your first hint to watch for Canadian spelling in the grids - haven't actually decided if I'll stick to one or the other in matters such as -or/-our in the grids), I'll keep posting.
For the puzzle this week, I was contemplating Christmas themes, but quickly discarded them for fear of offending. Then I realized that I'm more than happy to offend people (and I'm actually kind of hoping that that's what will bring some of you back every week), just not with denomination-specific themes. This one's considerably more nsfw than the first week's, but not too gratuitous. On a par with the wonderfully sassy Onion A.V. Club puzzles in terms of difficulty and content. Also, fwiw, a heap of musicians found their way in to this grid, but I think most of you will know them all.
If you're at all interested in construction, this is how it went down: with surprising difficulty, actually. Started with 5 theme options, but the entries were grid spanners and that just wasn't happening. Pared it down to 2 15s and 2 14s, which is high but not unprecendented, but the theme-crossers just weren't there. Was not thrilled about settling on 3 themers (although the title does offer a little more thematic robustness), but I'd far rather have a featherweight theme than fugly fill. Speaking of the ballast fill, it was a bit of a slog, but I'm super picky. Had a more or less complete, dense grid, and then decided to scrap it all and add the two long down answers. Both are entries on my shortlist, so I was happy they played nicely. I've done better, but there's no horrid crosswordese (I want to establish strict standards right off the bat) and there are some gems.
Share and enjoy the puzzle (but heed the rating), and I'll see you next Tuesday.
Metaphorical Difficulty: Christmas shopping for the hipster on your list ("it's the thought that counts" is far too mainstream to be of any comfort)
Download the PDF and PUZ files here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the Java app below.