EELER (38A: Lamprey hunter) makes an appearance! (Although I think technically, lampreys are not eels.) And didn't we just see NAW (39A: Hillbilly negative) very recently in a puzzle? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it seems an uncommon word, and not all that crosswordy, so you'd think it wouldn't show up very often. Maybe I just don't know yet what's crosswordy and what isn't...
Enjoyed the clue 58A: Famous rescue vessel for ARK. Didn't particularly love LAVES (69A: Employs soap and water). IDI AMIN (6D: With 25-Down, 1979 Exile) really has no place in a puzzle devoted to Mother's Day, and that top middle section has three proper names stacked side-by-side. Doesn't seem right.
I learned today that 10D: G.I., in old slang is DOGFACE, and I love the directness of 21D: What "D" means (POOR). But having OHME (41D: Words of woe), not only in the same puzzle as, but almost right next to OHOS (47D: Cries of discovery) seems a little weak. And that first one really ought to be "Ah, me" shouldn't it? I didn't hate this puzzle, but some things just seemed a little off. Like INCA (57D: ____ Empire (bygone domain)). Isn't it more common to say "Incan Empire?"
I think we're going to call this one a draw.
p.s. When we opened this puzzle on the NYT Puzzle app on our iPad Mini, it had an extra message that read:
"The print version of this puzzle contains the following additional clue after the Across and Down clues:"
And all there was was the "OK" button. No extra clue.
After reading other blogs, I have learned that we should have seen: "Diagonal 1. Annual message."
The diagonal message, which I didn't actually notice, reads: HAPPYMOTHERSDAY. Now I see why things might have felt a little odd in this one. It's a nice touch, that message, and I have to cut him a little slack, but it's still a draw.