We have PAIRS of TONGs, SOCKs (which magically relinquish their status as a PAIR as soon as you throw them in the dryer), PANTs and SKIs. Ms. Burnikel neatly crosses the PAIRS to keep them together. I wish someone would do that for my socks.
There’s a general rule in crossword construction that you are not supposed to repeat words in a grid, but today’s puzzle doesn’t really do that. The circled squares that cross each other all repeat the word indicating the PAIR, but they are all part of longer entries that are etymologically different.
■ 16A: TONGUE-LASH is such a neat word. It’s very descriptive and charmingly retro. In fact, it returns to The New York Times Crossword after a 57 year absence, back when newspapers could afford to put periods at the ends of their crossword clues.
■ 18A: Part of my job is to provide hope for those who quake at the sight of a sportscentric clue (with a few exceptions, that’s a weakness of mine, too). If you see a clue like “TD Garden athlete, informally” and you have no idea where the TD Garden is or who plays there, work those crossings. I had CE_ _ and, between those two letters and the “informally” part of the clue, figured out that the answer was CELT. So don’t give up.
■ 60A: Prediction: Some people won’t know the idiom “HAS KITTENS,” at least as it relates to blowing one’s stack (I’m hoping everyone knows it as it relates to making more cats.). Interestingly, it’s not one of those newfangled things the kids are all saying these days. One idiom researcher has traced it at least back to the British author P.G. Wodehouse in 1960, and perhaps to the early 20th century. The entry has been used once before in The New York Times, in a 2011 diagramless crossword by Mike Nothnagel.
■ 4D: Did you reflexively write in COM? Me too. Look again. Wikipedia’s URL is https://www.wikipedia.org/.