TO PUT IT DIFFERENTLY
A challenging Sunday! This was definitely on the level of a Friday for me, which is very unusual for the marquee NYT puzzle.
The theme is, in my opinion, excellent. Each long answer is reinterpreted into a clue that literally uses the preposition in the answer. And the clues are themselves reasonable phrases. My favorite by far is 34A: Gray fox (AGEBEFOREBEAUTY), with 88A: More united (ONEAFTERANOTHER) coming a close second. I think that 106A: Go figure (FORMFOLLOWINGFUNCTION) is the least successful, if only because of the tenuous connections between the words and their definitions.
If that's not enough, you get four excellent long down answers, including 4D: Come down wrong, maybe (TWISTANANKLE) and 58D: Players eligible to suit up (ACTIVEROSTER). I'd never heard of TIGERSMILK before, so I needed most of the crosses to figure it out.
1A: "We must go" (ITSTIME) was a functional and straightforward clue and answer pair. I'll give it a B.
There are a ton of tricky clues in here. 46A: Like dams (FEMALE) is outstanding. It's so simple and yet so misleading. 80A: Series of lows (MOOING) is likewise a toughie, although my recent fiasco with putting "moos" in for "lows" should have been of some assistance. 103A: Star trek figures? (MAGI) had me really scratching my head. For a while I had "setI" in there, but that would have been better clued as "Star search figures?"
There was 114A: One in business? (SILENTI) which got me again. We had a "silent W" answer in some puzzle not so long ago which likewise had me stumped. I love 18D: Something an "o" lacks (SERIF). I tried "point" but quickly took it out when I put PABLO Sandovar next to it. 23D: Pop group (COLAS). Wow.
Sure, there was HONER and NAGGY (is that a word?), but very little to complain about.
Happy Rosh Hashanah.
I agree that this was a bit harder than most Sundays, which usually take under 40 minutes for me; this one was over an hour. MAGI stumped me for awhile, too. I concur with Colum's review, and will add that 29D Part of some showers (METEOR) was excellently clued; I was thinking of baby showers, cleansing showers, rain showers...but not METEOR showers! This is a nice, meaty puzzle, with words like TRUANT, GELD, BARF, DEFT and SCAD appearing in there making it interesting. I wouldn't mind more Sundays at this level.