Variety: Cryptic Crosswords – The New York Times
8D: I always jump a bit when I see what looks like anecdotes in a riddle – which two saints do I need to find out? Fortunately, the flexibility of your brain is often more important than what is in it. These two saints are ST and ST in GUEST STAR, surrounded by anagrams in “argue”.
9D: Just when I was thinking about the potential demise of paper money; this index takes a reference to bachelors, or “small bills”, invests it in a word for pubs and obtains a noble woman: a BARONESS.
15D: I solved this backwards, given all the crossing letters: T_R_E_T_R looked like TORMENTOR enough that I could figure this out. The definition is therefore “sadistic”; increasing corruption is TOR – “rot” running upward – and TOR is “teacher-supported”, ie in addition to MENTOR.
16D: It was the first ink I put in this puzzle, mainly because I saw “receptacle” and reflexively thought about the answer, then solved it backwards. The first word, “Spots”, indicates a rash; “Carbon” comes down to its chemical symbol, C. Put them “in brown” or TAN, to get a trash can.
21D: It’s not complex, but it’s one of the ones I watched for a minute, maybe because the second part of the entry is made up of initials. The first is a short time, a TRICE; add an afterthought to a letter, say – a SP – to get some muscle that could grow in the gym.
25D: And this one is all initials; someone from the United States in the common abbreviation of Delirium Tremens becomes DUSTS.
But wait, there is more! We still have a theme to explore. This 30A clue is a farce – put “Vietnamese leader” with “take advantage of” to get it – but before you solve it, check your list of starred entries. We have a DOORMAN, CLEARANCE, SMOKE, PEAGE, APARTMENT, SLAUGHTER, BIRD, LIGHT and SORORITY.