SATURDAY PUZZLE — What a cool-looking grid, especially with a little analysis — all five span entries are debuts, and the way they intersect makes me think of fancy gift-wrapping ribbon. Peter A. Collins constructs a ton of themed puzzles, and we see him every few months on the weekends; today’s felt as if he had been saving up some 15-letter doozies for an epic chance to piece them together.

The whole puzzle felt pretty imposing to me as I embarked on solving, but the placement of the long entries actually made it easier to get each corner. Plenty of interesting fill, too, and clues that ranged from confounding to sunny and funny.

My first strike was NAIL HOLE, and then I correctly guessed LIARS and LEECH as crosses. LEECH led to “lamprey,” which is actually correct but not the right answer in this case — REMORAS also work with sharks (tricky here, with “fish” in the clue working for a singular or plural reference). I did not remember SVEN from “Frozen,” just Olaf, which probably sounds like utter heresy to many of you; I was relieved to see SVEN appear because it allowed for SMALLS, which had to be.

Speaking of singular and plural, I give Mr. Collins MINERAL because anemia is often, by definition, a lack of iron — one mineral. That was one of those awkward bits that on further inspection is quite calculated; IN STIR is another example of that, a specific term from history (and Pogo).

Some really great puns today included clues for RESOLE, COP and TSA, but there were others. I also liked MEASURE and measure, NOR, nor, nor, and OLE OLE.

1A: For some reason I feel very up-to-date on bowling terms, and at first I had “bowled” here; but it’s Saturday, so that would be too easy. I don’t think SPARED has ever been clued this way in the puzzle, it’s usually an act of mercy; but again, it’s Saturday, no mercy for us.

15A: No specific sports knowledge here, just enough crosses and some narrowing down of possibilities — I think I had HOME RUN at the end even with “lamprey,” and PINCH HIT came later after a few other spans were done. I was briefly attached to the notion of a “three out home run,” which I guess would be something special.

32A: Another wild clue, making its return after a decade or so, for some traditional fill — ELOI isn’t “My god!” in Spanish, but in Aramaic.

40A: I had “scarfs” here, understandably, all the way to the end and considered 41D to make a bit of a Natick with 49A. After a little ME TIME I realized that SNARFS could be the thing here; it’s possibly a portmanteau of “snorts” and “scarfs,” a charming notion.

47A: And another unusual clue, this one for EDATE — the most important specialized knowledge today was probably of Microsoft Office. (Maybe physics for OMEGA? That one was easier to deduce.)

53A: I hope nongolfers appreciated this one! PIZZA DELIVERIES took me by glorious surprise.

6D: Down the middle of this eccentric endeavor, a dry phrase that usually indicates, in an email, the imminent execution of a harebrained scheme by its sender, and the tacit obligation of its recipient to deal with all repercussions: DETAILS TO FOLLOW.

10D: I’ve heard this phrase, and it let out a little scream of “seed entry!” as soon as I figured it out here. VIRTUE SIGNALING is definitely as old as cave paintings (Moog help Droog up steep cliff), but there really wasn’t a name for this particular flavor of sanctimonious self-sensationalizing until recently. Of course, there are multiple people trying to get credit for its coinage.

41D: This was a really hard entry to figure out as clued, I thought, but NUBILE does root from “nuptial,” and does really mean appropriate for marriage. The more liberated meaning of sexually attractive seems to have overtaken this one in the 1970s, on the record at least. With that incorrect “c” at the start, and no knowledge of UBI, this was the last entry to fall for me.

I like finding 15-letter entries that haven’t been used before. This puzzle has five grid-spanners, all making their Shortz-era NYT debut.

These two were my seed entries: VIRTUE SIGNALING (which has been going on since the beginning of time — now we have a name for it) and PIZZA DELIVERIES (I just really liked my clue).

Subscribers can take a peek at the answer key.

Trying to get back to the puzzle page? Right here.

What did you think?

User Review
0 (0 votes)