Debut alert! Always impressive when a constructor's first puzzle published in the NYT comes on a Thursday, because of the trickiness expected of the theme on that day.
And today's does not disappoint. We get four phrases, to which is added the letters -ILY, transforming the last element into an adverb, which now describes the first part of the phrase. You have to imagine a comma between the two parts in the reworked phrase. Clue wackily, and hilarity ensues, as they say.
All four of the theme answers hit the mark, if you ask me. The one that made me laugh out loud was 39A: Golden blades that may be tenderly chew'd by equine or bovine beings (HAYLOFTILY). Also amusing was THELASTWORDILY, while the other two weren't quite as chuckle-inducing. Although I love the clue for 34A: L iKe aN Ov eN (HOTMESSILY).
Meanwhile, the fill was also of high quality. I love the clue for 3D: Common congestion points (NOSES). I had NOdES for a while, but the actual answer is more square on the nose, if you will. Also nice was 43D: It may be rolled out for exercise (YOGAMAT).
|RENE Auberjonois from Deep Space 9|
The southwest corner has a nice little connection between the two excellent clues 57A: Follower of pigs and cows (EIEIO) - I did not see that coming at all - and 60A: Country sound (TWANG).
Does anybody else remember NETZERO? Boy, I have a strong feeling that I used it for a while to access the Interwebz. I never much liked AOL.
Finally, 26A: 90s, say (AAVERAGE) and its symmetrically placed item 45A: One committing insurance fraud, maybe (ARSONIST). Honestly, I liked just about everything about this puzzle. The turn is coming through, baby!