Happy Friday, y'all!
Starting today with some fun news — my first New York Times crossword (a tricky collab with the wonderful Sid Sivakumar) was published yesterday! If you haven't solved, give it a go (and be sure to read our constructor notes!). We're really proud of it and hope it's a fun challenge for you ☺️
As for this themeless, I came up with the clue-answer pair for 35-Across a couple weeks ago and slowly but surely built out from there! I'm really happy with how it came together, especially the set of long downs on the right side of the grid (definitely including 34-Down). Special thanks to test-solving MVP Brooke Husic for her help in making this whole puzzle so much better. Hope you enjoy!