I went EXNIHILO to ecstatic during today's solve while getting DERAILED only once. I couldn't immediately get into the GROOVE in the northeast. I guessed 'wAgnER' at 9A thinking, 'how many six-letter German composers can there be?' (The answer: at least two). Those incorrect letters at the left slowed me down a bit, especially since I had no idea what "Big name in casinos" would be (MGM) and I started with 'glovEs' instead of MITTEN ("Good thing to have on hand during winter?) at 18A. The clue "Soliloquy relative" didn't compute until after I got the answer (ARIA).
I love that the Simpson's is such a MAINSTAY of the NYTX. We here at HAFDTNYTCPFCA have often tried to select our favorite Simpson's side character, but we are spoiled for choice. DISCOSTU is, of course, great, but what about Bumblebee man ("¡Ay, ay, ay, no me gusta!")? And Kent Brockman ("I for one welcome our new insect overlords...)? The BOTTOMLINE is that they're all excellent in their own way.
And speaking of excellent, how about these apples?
"What's found on a couple of plates in Italy?" (MTETNA)
"Something to pay a steep price for?" (TEA)
"A, as in April? (SCHEDULE) - ha! - so clever.
I also enjoyed the clue/answer pairs "Cheeky" / PERT and "Smacker" / CLAM. And SHODDY and HAMHANDED are both fine fill.
The puzzle contained two oft-referred to items in my real life. When at the beach, the family loves to comment on any SEACHANGE that occurs. And a friend of mine makes regular reference to "The Gift of the Magi" story, swapping in items on hand for the FOB and the combs. For example, "I sold my notebook to buy you a dialysis machine. I sold my kidney to buy you a pen." Maybe YOUHADTOBETHERE.
I suppose ODELET is well within bounds for a Saturday, but it is a little odd, non? There was also a smattering of stubs and acronyms, but AMINO harm in mentioning them. I would say, INSUM, this was a fun one.