The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or, as the original would have it, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." Turns out it was Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr who first said that. And honestly, here's an example where the French has the English beat hands down.
Which gets to my point, to wit: I am incapable of taking on somebody else's style in blogging as anything more than a sham, a pretense, an insulting homage. Instead, I peddle my faux learned nature (really the result of inspired Googling) and musings on the day's puzzle.
Oh, right! The puzzle.
Let's PAUSEFORAMOMENT and enjoy the cleverness of this theme. Not only do we get AUSTRALIA and its nickname, DOWNUNDER, but Ms. Hobbs takes the instructions literally, turning four other words strongly associated with Australia so they flip under and below their start.
Now, we've heard some grumbling in these pages for clues like 17A, 36A, 43A, and 62A ("-"), because they give the game away. And perhaps so. Certainly I came to 14A: Web-footed mammals, and thought to myself, "well, self, surely they're looking for PLATY[PUSES]," and I was right. I already had SE___ in place at 17A, and so seeing the clue there, filled in the rest. But really, what other choice was there? It would have been beyond awesome if the second part of the answers were words in their own right when read backwards, but honestly impossible.
And how fun is it to see OODIR and OORA in the grid?
Meanwhile, there's a bunch of bonus material, with KOALA, RUM, MAORI... Okay, they're from New Zealand, but it's practically next door, especially compared to Upstate New York.
Google says they're 2,587 miles apart, which is about the same distance as New York to Las Vegas. I stand corrected.
Other fun stuff today include 41A: Bouncer's equipment (TRAMPOLINE) - how delightfully literal. Things not to enjoy today include STYES.