Well, I'm glad to say this one came easier than my Times debut this past spring, but it was not without its challenges. While the top and bottom stacks were pretty much set from the get-go, the editing team rightly dinged me for some questionable fill in between. Luckily we were able to meet in the middle, as it were, and the result is what you see here. Thanks again, guys.
There are a few clues I wish had survived the final edit, notably 20-Across ("Mudslide component" — more fun than giving away the store with the brand reference, no?) and 10-Down ("Its name comes from the Aztec word for testicle" — so evocative, and once you know it, you can't un-know it).
One thing I almost always enjoy in solving themeless puzzles is the challenge of sussing out a tricky long answer by chipping away at the intersections. Hopefully, I've provided that opportunity for some of you with those behemoths at 17- and 54-Across.
Lastly, speaking of 17-Across… [Climbs up on ramshackle but still sturdy soapbox] Please be sure your voter registration is up to date. And then vote! Learn more at the nonpartisan sites vote411 or vote.org.
Hi there. I'm absolutely over the moon to be making my first appearance in the NYT today. Beware the Ides of March? Don't think so! Many thanks to Will and team for their encouragement as they helped me get this one to Yes. Hope you find it an enjoyable solve.
Cheers to the tipplers among you who might opt to imbibe in a festive 13-Down to help kick off the weekend. And for fans of global, eclectic, genre-defying music, here's an extra hint for that one: My original clue was "Ensemble whose signature tunes include ‘Dosvedanya Mio Bombino.' "
Constructing has quickly become one of my favorite pastimes. Part of the fun, I'm sure most of us would agree, is never knowing when inspiration will strike or where it will lead. Now that I've made it into the Times, my new goal is to expand beyond Friday. Easier said than done...