I'm going to get spoiled with all of these excellent themeless puzzles! I felt like I was absolutely in sync with Mr. Diehl's mindset through much of this solve. I mean, I got ODESSA off of __ES__. I'm pretty sure I never read that book. Meanwhile, each of the four corner stacks have two at least outstanding answers.
I broke in with 5D: Most TV Land programming (RERUNS), which gave me PREVUE, which I don't love. I actually skipped down to the SW, where 25D: Four-for-four Super Bowl-winning QB (JOEMONTANA) was a gimme, but great to see the entire name in there. ONEINFORTY is very fresh seeming, even if the clue was also a gimme. The SW fell quickly for me.
I like the clue for 30A: Girl's name in which the last three letters are equivalent to the first? (IONE), which has a cryptic crossword feel to it.
The SE has a good trio of answers. I tried SMOKeTOPAZ at first, but corrected in time to SMOKYTOPAZ. RUMBLESEAT is excellent. NAPOLITANO is a good find, just not as sparkly as the other two. I thought I had read Two Years Before the Mast by Richard DANA, but it turns out researching it, that I was thinking of the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester, which I loved as a kid.
The best clue and answer in the puzzle comes at 14D: Plot lines (XANDYAXES). Not only is it a clever bit of misdirection, the answer in its full form is so crazy looking! 13D: Like Alzheimer's disease (AGERELATED) is a bit off, in my professional neurologic opinion. It is certainly true that the incidence goes up with age, but people can get it quite young, and it plays into the myth that memory loss is a normal result of aging (it isn't). METALSTAMP felt a little ad hoc, but Google shows it's a true name for the tool.
The NW, which I finished last has the second best clue and answer at 1A: Like a Navy seal (WATERTIGHT) - note the lack of a capital on the last word of the clue. That "Navy" was completely unnecessary! I give the pairing an A-. AZALEATREE feels like a redundant term. Can't we just call it an azalea? Is it a separate plant?
I definitely enjoyed this puzzle.
P.S. I always read the other blogs on the NYT puzzle after writing my review, which sometimes means I discover something about the puzzle that is really cool too late. Thus the PS...
Note the W-X-Y-Z in the four corners!