So, you all know by now that I typically start with the lower entries first while I'm making themeleses. This one is no different and went with AIDS QUILT. I liked it not only because I thought it'd make for a nice entry, but also because of the Q, the U, and the two Is would make for a challenging fill. It's always feels a copout with the edge words like EDENS (62-Across). Perfectly good words, I guess, but those are the easier letters to work with. I guess STAYS AT and PUERILE aren't all that much better than EDENS. So, since the science of the fill typically calls for those kinds of entries heavy on the Es, Ds, and Ss, that's why I like to start with a wild entry on the edge somewhere.
I thought this one might have a few too many proper names, but when I went back over it it seemed to have a normal amount. My brain is too addled with pop culture so it's probably inevitable that stuff like Marty McFly's mom is the puzzle.
An earlier version of this puzzle had in the lower SW corner EL CAJON crossing JAI HO. The test solvers were split as to the fairness of that crossing. But the thing that killed it was LHO, the monogram of JFK's supposed assassin. A constructor always weighs the crap with the good. Inevitably some junk is going to have to go into a puzzle to hold all the good stuff together. Is a corner worth it to have all these winning entries and the Inuit word for watermelon? Or should we just play it safe and keep it all clean?
Okay, hope you enjoyed the puzzle. New one on Monday.
(Oh, you were expecting some sort of X-Rated puzzle since this is puzzle #69? Get your minds out of the gutter, sickos! What kind of a crossword constructor do you think I am?)
UPDATE: So, one of my test solvers, Joon Pahk, kindly reminded me why I had put LHO in the first place. Typically a constructor isn't going to put in an entry that they're not 100% sure about. I knew I'd seen LHO before, but couldn't remember why. Anyway, I've kept the LHO-free grid above, and posted the alternate corner here: ACROSS LITE, PDF, and JAVA APP. You be the judge.