The other day I said (although not for the first time) that Mike Nothnagel was my favorite constructor. I later started thinking about some other favorites, and today we have another. Elizabeth Gorski's last NYT puzzle was one of my favorites...buried treasure, another great Sunday puzzle.
I'm tempted to say that today's puzzle was fairly easy, but maybe I was just on Elizabeth's wavelength. There was only one theme answer that I struggled to get.
The theme is revealed at 65A: Robert Redford film...and a hint to what occurs at 23-, 28-, 54-, 77-, 111- and 116-Across (A River Runs Through It). I wracked my brain to picture him in it...I kept seeing Tom Skerritt...then realized that Redford had directed it, and that Tom Skerritt had in fact played Rev. Maclean. This site refers to keywords bare butt and male nudity. What am I forgetting?
Anyway, the theme answers are:
23A: Base for many French fries (Idaho potato).
28A: 1987 Nicolas Cage/Holly Hunter film (Raising Arizona). That's one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. I love Nicolas Cage...always have and always will. And Holly Hunter is nothing short of incredible. She was on the cover of the July issue of More magazine, looking absolutely ravishing in the BEST red dress I've ever seen.
54A: 1950 #1 hit for Patti Page (Tennessee Waltz).
77A: Lead-in to "Show me!" (I'm from Missouri). I worked in Kansas City for a couple of years, and I don't think I ever heard anyone use the expression.
111A: 1915 song that popularized the phrase "Hail! Hail! The gang's all here" (Alabama Jubilee). That was the one I didn't know. Of course, I wasn't around then.
116A: Ice cream treat (Baked Alaska). As a kid, I was always amazed that you could put ice cream in the oven and it wouldn't melt. As an adult, I realized it's only in long enough to brown the meringue. I've never made it, but on the last night of an Alaskan cruise, that's what they served for dinner. It was to die for.
The six rivers flow vertically through the puzzle, each intersecting its home state:
3D: Gem State stream (Snake), crossing Idaho.
26D: Grand Canyon State stream (Gila), flowing through Arizona.
36D: Volunteer State and Show Me State stream (Mississippi), crossing both Tennessee and Missouri.
97D: Heart of Dixie stream (Mobile), which flows through Alabama.
109D: The Last Frontier stream (Yukon), crossing Alaska. As much as I was on Elizabeth's wavelength on this, I didn't realize the extent of the theme until I got this one.
Other water-related answers include 80D: Body of water seen in Munch's "The Scream" (Oslo Fjord) and 91D: Supermodel on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 1982 swimsuit issue (Carol Alt).
Was anyone else tickled by the crossing of 106D: Orange __ (Pekoe) and 124A: Soaks in water (steeps)?
Clever cluing at 102A: She was wild about Harry (Leona), 115A: Party people? (politicos), 15D: Like some assets and smiles (frozen), 35D: Composed (serene), 63D: Treat as a villain (hiss at), and 112D: Opposite of blew (aced).
I absolutely love getting the first clue I read, and 1A was from one of my favorite movies: Film character who says "Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake" (Ilsa). My all-time favorite line from Casablanca..."If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."
Other favorite clues and/or answers:
5A: Clear furniture material (Lucite).
20A: Choirs may sing in it (unison).
25A: "Are we finished?" (May I go now?).
31A: One of two school colors (along with heliotrope) of New York's Purchase College (puce). Heliotrope appeared in Mike Nothnagel's puzzle last Friday.
4D: Follow (adhere to).
5D: 1966 hit "Little Latin __ Lu" (Lupe). As kids, we sang it as Latin Loop-de-loop.
12D: They get props for their work on Broadway (stage crew).
24D: Having no sequel (one shot)...the very best kind of movies.
Things I had seen before and remembered for this puzzle include 38A: "Nearer the Moon" author Nin (Anais), 96A: Toscanini's birthplace (Parma), 59D: Soprano __ Te Kanawa (Kiri), and 13D: 1998 French Open winner Carlos (Moya).
Things I didn't know:
119A: "Bee Season" star, 2005 (Gere). I've never even heard of it.
17D: Al Bundy player (Ed O'Neill). I never saw the show Married With Children so had to get this from the crosses.
64D: Political writer Shelby __ (Steele).
101D: Author of "The Third Man," 1949 (Greene).
I enjoyed seeing 37D: Dance accompanied by a gourd drum (hula). For those who may be wondering, we did see some hula dancing when we were in Hawaii, but we didn't do any.
It's after midnight and I'd better wrap this up. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.