Wow, I had difficulty with this puzzle! Not due to any fault of Ms. Reid's or her constructing prowess. As usual, she has provided a clean and smooth themeless grid. But the cluing and my dull brain this morning contributed to a longer than expected solve.
I found entry in the middle North section, where even 8D: Pacific Coast capital (LIMA) didn't trip me up. CAMECLEAN is a lovely answer, and I loved 21A: Expert problem solver (MATHLETE). I couldn't easily exit the corner however, and so moved down to the SE corner.
Here 35D: Former center of Los Angeles (ONEAL) also did not confuse me for a second, but even with LOOSE and ANNIE in place below, I couldn't get the longer down answers and had to move on, once again!
|My favorite version of ANNIE|
The SW corner was fun, with the tricky clue 63A: Characters on some foundations (SPF) - that's makeup, not cornerstones - as well as 51D: Makes purr, maybe (REVS) - not "pets." I knew that 54A: Raw footage? (NUDESCENE) was going in that direction, but had but in EvadE for ELUDE. I should know better. Once that was corrected, the corner fell into place.
42A: Boost someone's signal, in a way (RETWEET) was also tricky, but now I was able to fill the middle. I finally got 36A: This isn't what it looks like! (OPTICALILLUSION), finished the NE corner, and set to work on the NW corner.
22A: Sign of fall (SCORPIO) is such a classic Friday clue, I should have figured it out earlier. But 3D: Safety net? (TWOPOINTS) - referring to the defensive scoring play in American Football, is incredible cluing.
Finally I finished the SE corner. 49D: Toddler's eruption (MOLAR) was also not at all what I was thinking of, and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't even think of music when answering 38D: Increment on a scale (SEMITONE) until it was forced on me.
What a great and challenging Friday themeless!