On a recent trip to the northeast, my family took the COG RAILWAY up to the observatory on Mount Washington. At that very moment, I thought that word would make a lovely starter for a themeless puzzle. I was happy when so many other good entries cooperated.
I like how all three long entries in this puzzle's top and bottom stacks sparkle—I mean, how can you get more sparkly than FOOL'S GOLD? All kidding aside, John went above and beyond here: As if the triple stacks weren't lively enough, all four entries in the double stacks are also fresh, and there's even plenty of fun midlength fill like TED TALKS, MOJITO, COLLOQUY, JICAMA, DYSTOPIA, and POP TARTS. And finally, I'd like to give a shout-out to John's [Like giving a vacuum as a Valentine's Day gift] clue for UNROMANTIC. That one had me laughing out loud!