Courtenay Crocker has teamed up with Nancy Salomon to create an ingenious theme for the first puzzle of May.
Doing the puzzle wasn't nearly as difficult for me as figuring out how to describe the theme. Bear with me...
Bending the Rules is revealed as the theme in 38A. The six rules that are bent--ground, home, golden, house, general and slide--appear in a right-angle intersection between an across and a down.
In the order listed above:
GROUND rule comes from the intersection of the U at 17A: Antic brother (GROucho Marx) and 4D: Rolled along (trUNDled).
Groucho also provides the HO that intersects at the M in 7D: Nagano noodles (RaMEn) for HOME rule.
GOLDEN rule starts with 11D: Place to pick up valuable nuggets (GOLD field), sharing the D with 22A: Pack, to a pack animal (burdEN).
HOUSE rules begins with 56D: 10 C-notes (tHOU) and intersects at the U from 69A: Play for a fool (uSE).
GENERAL rule gets an entire word -- 58D: "The Match Game" host Rayburn (GENE), sharing the E in 70A: Wild (feRAL).
And, finally, SLIDE rule. 54D: Pizzeria order (SLIce), takes the remainder of its letters from 63A: Back (reverse siDE).
Some pretty delightful fill. Some of my favorites:
15A: Lash of bygone westerns (LaRue). Don't know how I knew this, but I did. You can read more about him here.
24A: Sticking one's nose in (meddling).
29A: Order in the court (all rise).
46A: Speaks when one should stay out (butts in). Is that different from meddling?
52A: Like many Chas Addams characters (ghoulish).
56A: Dinner table item on a string (tea bag).
6D: Praise from a choir (Gloria). This is not to be confused with the one-hit wonder by the Shadows of Knight in the mid-sixties.
35D: Mesmerized (in a trance).
...and so many more.
Shocker answer of the day, week, month, year, decade...10D: Like some relations (sexual). Was anyone else (everyone else?) as surprised as I was to see this? Whoa! The NYT is getting racy!
On that note, I'll bid you all a good night...and a happy May Day.