This is the first Friday puzzle I've finished sans Google in a long time. I was definitely on Barry Silk's wavelength tonight. With his last puzzle, Barry was inching his way up the list of my favorite constructors. Now he's right up there...in good company with Mike Nothnagel and Matt Ginsberg.
I absolutely loved this puzzle...but before I get on with it...
Yesterday we had sunny skies, with highs in the low eighties. This morning snow was falling...huge flakes swirling around. Don and I sat with our coffee watching the birds...and saw five male Lazuli Buntings at our ground feeders. According to a friend (who's also the owner of the local Wild Birds Unlimited), they're heading back north and may be around for a few days. What a treat! We've seen more varieties of birds the last few months than ever before. By the way, this isn't the actual bird. I couldn't bring myself to leave the window long enough to get the camera...but it's sitting there now, just in case they return tomorrow.
On with the puzzle. Barry has a knack for stacking long answers in the four corners...in this case, they're good ones all around.
In the northwest...1A: Contest with many missions (space race), 15A: Cousin of a Rob Roy (Manhattan) and 17A: Heads (overseers). In the northeast...12D: "Sheesh!," south of the border (ay, caramba), 13D: One whose work may be catchy (sloganeer) and 14D: "What's My Line?" participant (panelist).
In the southwest...28D: Kraft brand (Cheez Whiz), 29D: Great Seal image (bald eagle) and 33D: Paper parts (sections). The southeast corner...41A: Declare "I will go no further than this" (draw a line), 54A: Became a participant (entered in) and 56A: Unrevivable (stone dead).
16A: 1972 top 10 hit that's seven minutes long (Layla), 20A: Charge (tutelage), 25A: Beach Boys title girl (Rhonda), 33A: Couple seen in a restaurant (shakers)...salt and pepper, in case you're not tracking with that, 42A: Capital just south of the Equator (Quito), 47A: Famous finger-pointer's declaration (I want you), 1D: Gooey goody (s'more), 21D: Bronchoscopist's view (trachea), 26D: City where Chocolate Avenue crosses Cocoa Avenue (Hershey) and 32D: Kazan Cathedral locale (Red Square).
The award for best clue in the puzzle goes to 36A: Sonata that might not sound good (used car).
A good sign that I was one with Barry tonight...4D: Rock on a stage (Chris). I didn't even think twice...I knew where that one was going.
There were several things I didn't know but got from the crosses...22A: Jagged (erose), 24A: 1960s Elvis-style singer __ Donner (Ral)...have never heard of him, nor has Don..., 28A: "See It Now" producer of 1950s TV (CBS News), 55A: George __, longtime Cleveland Orchestra conductor (Szell), 11D: Iona College athlete (Gael), 30D: "I Wish" rapper __-Lo (Skee), 45D: "Lost" actress Raymonde (Tania) and 49D: "Jubilee Trail" novelist Bristow (Gwen).
Best guess...with only the L in place...10D: Tree with catkins (alder).
Life is so peaceful now that tax season is over. Don and the boys are sitting with me in my office as I write this...Don is reading, and the boys are napping after a hard day of guarding the homestead.
I have an early morning meeting, so I'd better wrap this up. Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.