It's finally time to call out Julian Lim as one of our favorite constructors. He's been a bit of a sleeper in this blog, I think, but today I looked back at our past reviews of his puzzles (there have been several Saturdays), and he has been consistently praised. Today will be no different.
MARIONETTE (31A: One being strung along?) is excellent fill with an excellent clue. GOTORACKANDRUIN (35A: Decline dramatically) is lovely. DERNIERCRI (29D: Newest fashion) and AGNI (30A: Lambs, to Lucius) are some next-level language fill, and DURIANS (20D: Southeast Asian fruits with large, thick spines) was fun, and it went right in thanks to my brother who is now living in Singapore, and who has willed himself (I believe) into actually enjoying the "aromatic" fruit.
Good stuff is everywhere. MATRIARCH (31D: Mother superior?), VACUITY (27D: Empty-headedness), RELIGIONS (9D: Service providers?), DIETCOKE (54A: Mixer for losers?) (hilarious!) … even lowly abbreviations are made interesting, like TUES (32D: It's named for a Scand. god of battle) and OSHA (3D: Org. that, when spelled backward, is an old-timey exclamation) (!). "Old-timey," … ok, Julian...
I'm not totally crazy about ABOUTTURNS (37A: 180s), IDY, or RIAA, but those are a small price to pay for a puzzle this enjoyable and this solid. Excellent work.