Saturday Themeless by Billy Bratton
I'm happy to have my first (and hopefully not last) puzzle in the LA Times! I constructed this one a long time ago so hopefully I can still dredge up some interesting things about it.
I am a first year student at Carleton College (h.g. It's 45 min. from Minneapolis and Billy said he is very aware that C.C. is a big name in crosswords!), and I've had puzzles in the NYT, Atlantic, Universal, Crucinova, SPYSCAPE, and now the LAT.
I didn't start with a seed per se, but rather worked through a lot of possibilities for the centerstack, trying to get 3/3 hits. Then, I would make sure that the 5D/21D and 18D/24D slots would have a variety of good options. Most of the construction time was spent on this part of the grid. The other corners weren't too bad to deal with. I remember trying to get NAOMI OSAKA to work cleanly at 17A, but to no avail. The bottom left also went through a decent number of revisions before I settled on TORY PARTY.
Not much to report on the clue front. I found the fact in 30A interesting and felt the world absolutely needed to know. Props for the clue change on 34A (I'm pretty sure I wasn't clever enough to write that one).
Also, I just noticed that like half of the long answers start with T. Any solvers out there who particularly enjoy that letter of the alphabet are in luck.
1. Jiggly edible: ASPIC - Hey it's great to get 1A right off the bat with JELLO. What...?
6. One swimming in a pod: ORCA - That boat might want to think about vacating the pod area
14. Put away: STASH - What kids do to things in their school lockers
15. Sound from a boxer: WOOF - Last Saturday, C.C. had 47. Watched a boxer, say: PET SAT
16. Words of dismay: OH NO.
22. Spots on a screen: ADS - Ah, yes, ADvertisement spotS can be on your TV or computer screen
23. Half a candy bar?: KAT
27. "Downton Abbey" countess: CORA - Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes based the fictional CORA Crawley on the real Countess Almina Herbert who was one of many wealthy Americans who married into the financially strapped British aristocracy
33. Ones battling demons: TORTURED SOULS.
34. They need to be blown up: AIR MATTRESSES - Fun cluing for which Billy does not take credit
35. Dorm room metaphor, maybe: STY - Mine was
36. Amontillado holder: CASK - "A complex and interesting sherry" and a Poe story
38. Maker of 49-Down: LIPTON and 49. 38-Across product: TEA - There is no chance you would find this TEA in C.C.'s house
40. Pride, for one: SIN.
44. "Drive" band, with "The": CARS - Ah, the '80's
50. Start of a play: ACT I.
51. Norse name that means "eternal ruler": ERIK
52. Jackson 5 features: AFROS - On Ed Sullivan. They soon saw who the lead singer should be.
53. Suffers the consequences: PAYS.
54. Get in the game: ANTE.
55. Cheerful: SUNNY.
1. Humane gp. for 150+ years: ASPCA.
2. Stopped lying: STOOD - Fun clue
6. Answer for something: OWN IT.
7. Joeys, e.g.: ROOS.
9. At the stern: AFT - Titanic's AFT sank last
10. Many a surfer: AOLER - I surf on Safari
11. Some sketches: CHARCOALS.
13. Make a point: DOT.
21. Chopin trio: PIANO SONATAS - He composed three of them but Billy had me thinking of three instruments. You?
24. Features on a track: CROSS TIES.
28. Pleasingly dated retail adjective: OLDE.
30. BoJo's political affiliation, informally: TORY PARTY - The leader of the TORY PARTY, BOris JOhnson, might need a PERM
33. View from Bolivia's Isla del Sol: TITICACA - The red symbol is the Isla del Sol in Lake TITICACA on the boundary between Peru and Bolivia
34. Digital communication syst.: ASL - Type in your name and see it in American Sign Language
|This is GARY|
39. Cinq moins deux: TROIS - 5 - 2 = 3 in Français
40. Share: STAKE.
41. Teach improperly?: LEARN - "I'm gonna LEARN you how to putt"
43. First name in flags: BETSY - Did she really do the first one?
45. Cousin of a gull: TERN.
46. Bail: EXIT - We did bail early on a bad college play last year
47. Vegan staple: TOFU - Not my choice but...