Nice Barry Silk puzzle w/ nice comments by Rex. I liked all six of the nine-letter words--MAKE PEACE, ALEXANDRA, and HAPPY DAYS are a nice trio in the NW and GIRL GROUP, USHERETTE, and STOWAWAYs are a similarly pleasant one in the SE.
Props to Rex for nailing the CRYPTOZOOLOGIST-WOODY WOODPECKER connection--sensed something nice about it but it didn't rise to the surface. I also liked his quick point on the DEL-DELCO combo and how that minor infelicity could have been cleaned up.
Rex alludes to but doesn't directly address the in-groupy "Pelosi daughter..." and "New Yorker writer" clues for ALEXANDRA and ALEC, so MetaRex will. The Democratic Party and the New Yorker are connected to the NYT and to its readership in a way that the Republican Party and the National Review, say, aren't. Given that, I have no problem with a modest blue/NY/CA tilt in the clues. At the same time, I trust Will and/or the constructors will occasionally give us a MEGAN McCain or a JONAH Goldberg. Maybe they in fact are...haven't noticed one way or the other.