Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Wednesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 25, 2020















My time: 6:59, nearly three minutes faster than average.

Theme: Three pairs of words that are "flipped" version of each other.  For example, MALE HEIR and AIRMAIL.

This took longer than it might have as PLAIN-TOE, as in a type of shoe, the flip of TOWPLANE, and THYME TEA, the slip of TEE TIME, are not in my wheelhouse.  I won't say those those pairs are a bit labored, because the terms exist, but I would have tried to go with more common "flipped" pairs.

The Arizona city TEMPE came up recently, but today it's noted as being "on the Salt River."  The Salt River is a tributary of the Gila.

Never heard of the company Bethlehem STEEL.  The company's roots trace to 1857 with the establishment of the Bethlehem Iron Company in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Bethlehem Steel was formed in 1904, and existed through the decline of American steel manufacturing during the 1970s until its bankruptcy in 2001 and final dissolution in 2003. 

Eldest von Trapp daughter in "The Sound of Music" is LEISL von Trapp.  She is 16 going on 17, and in love with Rolf, the telegram delivery boy.  She was played by the actress Charmian Carr here.  In real life, the eldest of the real Von Trapp children was Rupert Von Trapp and Agathe Von Trapp was the eldest girl. The female character of Liesl was created for the movie.

University of New Mexico mascot LOBO last appeared on September 23, when I wrote "maybe one day I'll remember."  Not today!

John Jordan Buck O'NEIL, first African-American coach in the MLB, came up on October 20, 2017.

Cable news anchor ARI Melber was in the blog on August 27.

Clever clue: "Signed, sealed, or delivered" is PAST TENSE.

This was a pretty average Wednesday puzzle.  The theme was a little cutesy, and as I said, relied on some rather abstruse words.  On the other hand, kudos for putting in nice fill like VORTEX, VARIETY ACT, and ARID ZONE.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tuesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 24, 2020














My time: 6:09, one and a half minutes faster than average. 

I actually finished all but one square about a minute earlier, because I put *MAR for TAR ("sully, as reputation"), and couldn't find the error for a bit.

Theme: ocean creature puns.  WHALE, I'LL BE DARNED!  They're rather silly.

I didn't know that SLOE is a fruit tree.  Prunus spinosa, called blackthorn or SLOE, is a species of flowering plant native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa.  The fruits have been used to make sloe gin in Britain, and the wood used for making walking sticks or the shillelagh by the Irish.  

Apparently Chelsea in NY, NY has the zip code 10001.  No wonder they're so full of themselves over there.

AHAB, son of Omri, was the husband of Jezebel, as shown on December 12, 2017.

Not much new to me this time around.  YAHOO?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 23, 2020

My time: 4:27, one minute faster than average.

Theme: IDS.  That is, "two forms of them are found in 18-, 38- and 60-Across," but this is misleading.  It's meant to be a play on the common request for "two forms of ID" like in the TSA line, but what these answers actually have are two instances of "ID" within them: DIDGERIDOO, BRIDESMAID, and the clunky MID-OCEAN RIDGE.  (Clunky it may be, but it is a genuine term in geology.)

I put a bad answer for the clue "sign of a wound's healing," *SCAR, when that comes after the real answer, SCAB.  For "minor fender damage" I put the common *DENT but it turned out to be DING.  Mistakes like those and the answer MID-OCEAN RIDGE all slowed me down.

I didn't know that OBAMA was once president of the Harvard Law Review.  He was the "first black elected to head the review," according to the Times in 1990.

OSAKA came up on January 2, 2018 as Japan's second largest metropolis; today it's clued as "third-largest city in Japan."  Apparently Yokohama has a million more people.

TEMPE is the city located between Phoenix and Mesa, running west to east on I-10.

More geography: Oakland and Alameda, south of Oakland, are both located in the EAST BAY, which a region on the coast of the San Francisco Bay.

I'm unfamiliar with both tennis players ANDY Murray, a Briton with three Grand Slams, and ANDY Roddick, an American who has won a single Grand Slam.

The racecar-driving Unsers, ALS father and son both, came up on December 3, 2018.

This was a just okay Monday.  I thought the clues were fairly vague for a Monday, which is fien because I like a little challenge.  But mainly, the "joke" of the theme was, as I noted, based on misuse of the word "form."  Oh well, THAT'LL DO.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 22, 2020

My time: 20:11, five minutes faster than average.

Theme: "It All Adds Up."  In five places, where a Down clue intersects with an Across clue is indicated by circled letters that make (rather uneven, except in the middle) plus signs.  Both these Down and Across answers contain the same letter strings which read as written-out digits (but don't represent numbers in their original form).  The trick is that these letter strings are replaced with other letter strings that represent different digits, addends of the original letter string.  That is, if you add the numbers written out in the Across and Down circled squares together, they add up to the original letter string.

You're confused, understandably.  Here's the first example I cracked.  The show "Days of our Lives" ("whose iconic hourglass is in the Smithsonian collection") contain the letter string F-OUR, or four.  But because it crosses a Down whose similar letter string reads out four, those letters are replaced with TWO.  Add both Across and Down circled letters — TWO and TWO — to read the answer as their sum, four.  So it's in the puzzle as DAYS O(TWO) LIVES and should be read as DAYS O[f Our] LIVES.

The crossing Down clue is "1943 Pulitzer Prize winning Thornton Wilder play, with The" which is "The Skin of Our Teeth," appearing as SKIN O(TWO) TEETH, to be read as SKIN O[f Our] TEETH.

Another example.  "Bygone office group" is steno pool.  But it appears as S(ONE)O POOL, to be read as S[ten]O POOL because it crosses with (NINE)DED BAR, which is read as [ten]DED BAR ("made the rounds?").  Why?  NINE plus ONE is ten, so the circled letters are read as ten.

In the last such clue pair, "neither gains nor loses" is BREAK(ZERO), to be read as BREAK[s even].  The crossing Down clue keeps its letter string seven in PRESS EVENT.  That's because SEVEN and ZERO make seven, which is the original letter string for both phrases.

I hope that's all clear. It took me a few minutes to figure out.

I have never heard the term SUN TRAP to refer to a sheltered balcony that gets lots of natural light. 

The Council of TRENT was held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent (or Trento, in northern Italy).  It was the 19th ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, prompted by the Protestant Reformation.  It has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation.  Basically it drew up a list of purported heresies and condemned them.

Con MOTO means with animation, or in a spirited manner, in music.

I guessed that EDEN was the name of the "town near Buffalo that sounds like paradise," but couldn't be sure without crossfill.  It is in Erie County.

I've heard of Thai BAHT but not the hundredth-part coin, the satang.

We've all heard of the sitcom "F TROOP" but not that it took place at Fort Courage.  It was set from 1865 to 1867 or so.

ZAC Posen is an American clothes designer about whom nothing interesting is known.

ETA represented as H came up on January 16, 2018.

"Longtime CBS News correspondent" LARA / LOGAN last appeared on November 1, 2017.

I remembered OLGA, the eldest of Chekhov's "Three Sisters," last seen on September 19!

However, I forgot country singer K.T. OSLIN, from August 31, 2018 (when I also forgot her).

"INSECURE," the TV show starring Issa Rae, came up on July 3, 2018, with the star as the answer, natch.

Clever clues: "Don's partner in the underworld" is CAPO.  "Melting point?" is ICICLE.  "Pieces of gangs" is GATS.  "Wanders around the head of a line?" is TSA.  "Something that's helpful in a dash?" is GPS.

Holy TOLEDO (and Holy SEE)!  That's a lot of old stuff, not much new stuff, and a pretty complicated theme!  I'm exhausted.  And that's THE LAS(ONE)RD, or rather, with an extra ONE added in, THE LAS[t wo]RD.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 21, 2020

My time: 17:10, over twice my best time but still three minutes faster than average.  For 1 Down I put "in *LIEU of" but it turned out to be WANT, and that slowed me down.

I like the clue "1, 2, 3, 4... 11, 12, 14, etc" for FLOORS.

"Composer whose name is one letter off from an international peace grp." is Georges ENESCO, really the Francophone version of, more properly, George Enescu, a Romanian composer and pianist.  His most well-known compositions are the two "Romanian Rhapsodies."

Cleopatra says "Come, though mortal wretch" to her ASP before committing suicide in "Antony and Cleopatra," act V, scene 2.  "Come, thou mortal wretch,  / With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool, / Be angry and despatch."

"1980s cable competitor of CMT" is TNN, The Nashville Network, which no longer operates under that name.

"Bird that sometimes sings in a duet" is WREN.  This is a science fact I had no idea of!

It turns out that Cal Ripkin Jr. and Pee Wee Reese, like Alex Rodriguez, Rich Aurilia, and Ernie Banks, played SHORTSTOP.

Judith RESNIK was the second American woman, first Jewish woman, and fourth woman overall in space.  A crater on the moon is named for her.

I have never heard of the North Star, a.k.a. Polaris, referred to as Alpha URSAE Minoris.

"Machine in particle physics lab, in brief" is LINAC.  This stands for linear particle accelerator, which accelerates charged subatomic particles or ions to a high speed by subjecting them to a series of oscillating electric potentials along a linear beamline.  It is used in radiation therapy against tumors.

For "___-fi" I put *SCI but that's a trap.  It's the little-used SPY-fi (ugh).  That's a terrible term, but it would be fine to use it in the puzzle if they had bothered to think of a real clue.  Blank clues are just the worst.

The lead agent on "NCIS" is called Leroy Jethro GIBBS.  He's played by Mark Harmon.  Ha ha!  Jethro!

We've all heard of BURNING MAN, but we don't know that it's held in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.  But only since 1990!  At first it was held on Baker Beach in San Francisco.  Then the Man told them they couldn't burn effigies on the beach.

And finally, the Kendrick Lamar song "DNA" went three times platinum, but I've never heard of it.  I'm not hip.  It does: "I was born like this, since one like this / Immaculate conception I transform like this Perform like this, was Yeshua new weapon." Okay then.

Clever clues: "Times table?" is NEWS DESK. "90s kid?" is A STUDENT.  "Expert on feet" is POET.

This was a challenging Saturday!  Quite a humdinger, or BEAUT, as they say.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 20, 2020

My time: 10:38, five minutes faster than average.

CARE is an NGO headquartered in Geneva that fights to conquer world hunger.  Founded by Arthur Ringland and Dr. Lincoln Clark, CARE began as an amalgam of 22 charities agreeing to funnel food packages from Americans to loved ones in Europe. CARE stands for Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe. 

"Like presidents with Bibles, maybe."  SWORN IN.  Or posing in front of a church with a borrowed bible they're holding upside down, after dispersing a peaceful crowd with a show of physical force.

Never heard of the 2009 hit "Kiss Me THRU the Phone," unsurprisingly.  It is by someone named Soulja Boy Tellem.  "Kiss Me thru The Phone" was 2009's eighth best selling single with over 5.7 million copies sold worldwide.  Good Lord.

"Spanish opposite of odio" is AMOR.  That took me a bit; I initially thought odio might mean "odor."



ADIA Barnes is a women's basketball coach for the Arizona Wildcats.

"Little Rhody" is a nickname for Rhode Island.  That's the OCEAN STATE. 

German philosopher ERNST Bloch was a 20th-century Marxist thinker.  His greatest work, The Principle of Hope, tries to provide an encyclopedic account of mankind's and nature's orientation towards a socially and technologically improved future. 

In other German history, the second Chancellor of West Germany after Conrad Adenauer was Ludwig ERHART, from 1963-66.  He is known for leading the West German postwar "economic miracle" of as recovery as Minister of Economic Affairs. In his tenure as Chancellor, however, Erhard lacked support from Adenauer, who remained chairman of the party until 1966, and failed to win the public's confidence in his handling of a budget deficit and his direction of foreign policy. His popularity waned, and he resigned his chancellorship. 

I've never heard of the Italian dish saltimbocca, which consists consists of veal that has been lined, wrapped with prosciutto and SAGE, and then marinated in wine, oil, or saltwater, depending on the region or one's own taste.

IBANKERS last appeared on July 29.

On September 20, DARTS was clued as the game in which you start with 501 points, and today it's clued as "game in which the object is to end with zero points."

Clever clues: "Place name in Manhattan" is ASTOR, as in Astor Place, a one-block street in Manhattan.  'Digital identifiers" is TOE TAGS.  "Counter offer, for short?" is BLT.

That was a satisfying Friday puzzle.  TGIF, am I right?

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Thursday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 19, 2020

My time: 9:56, five minutes faster than average.

Theme: CAN I BUY A VOWEL?  Like, so I can figure out these damned clues about "Wheel Of Fortune?"  ("It debuted on 1/6/75.")   Or, as it's rendered in the puzzle, WHL F FRTN, vowel-less?  

The thing is, I sensed very early on that this would be about "Wheel Of Fortune."  I saw the V in the Merv Griffin (MRV GRFFN) answer.  I saw the beginning V in the co-host, Vanna White (VNN WHT).  I just didn't see how they could fit.  It took a while, but the Down crosses convinced me that Merv Griffin lacked vowels in the puzzle.  Then I filled in the other Wheel-related answers fairly easily, and the capper, CAN I BUY A VOWEL, came last.

The other Wheel-related answers, that is, except for RSTLN[e], which are the letters you get for free in the final solo guessing puzzle.  I'm not a Wheel-watcher, so I didn't know the exact letters to put.

The other nswrs are B[a]NKR[u]PT and P[a]T S[a]J[a]K.

Oh, and a bonus theme clue is SPIN, "turn in a popular game show."

Now, on to the fll.

I'm so clueless about sports I didn't even know that the 76ers were PHI.  That's Philadelphia.

"Noted 'retiree' of '03" is SST.  That refers to the Concorde, which ended in 2003

I didn't know that UAE has no rivers, but it sure makes sense.  However, it does have wadis!

IRMA was the memorable hurricane of 2017.  The first Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 season, Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys.  It was the most intense hurricane to strike the continental United States since Katrina in 2005.  The word "Irmageddon" was coined soon after the hurricane to describe the damage caused by the hurricane.

For the channel that airs "Love It or List It," I knew of the show, but I put *HDTV at first.  I was thinking, "Home Development TV?" as I typed it in.  It's HGTV, or Home and Garden TV.

I don't know actor NEAL McDonough by name, but I know his face.  He plays Dum-Dum Dugan in the Marvel movies, and Damien Darhk, whoever that is, in the DC shows.

"Where nearly half of the US's publicly traded cos. are incorporated" is DEL. Apparently more than 60% of Fortune 500 companies incorporate in Delaware.  Delaware has a special court, the Court of Chancery, to rule on corporate law disputes without juries. Corporate cases do not get stuck on dockets behind the multitude of non-corporate cases. Instead, Delaware corporations can expect their legal disputes to be addressed promptly and expertly by judges who specialize in corporate law.

"City that rhymes with Rosanna in a #1 George Strait country hit" is TEXARKANA, and the song in question is "All My Ex's Live in Texas." It goes: "Rosanna's down in Texarkana / Wanted me to push her broom / Sweet Eileen's in Abilene / She forgot I hung the moon."

"Little waves, in Spain" is TILDES.  This is extremely lame.  I thought that the etymology might be Spanish words meaning something like "little waves," but no.  It seems to just be a bad description of them.

ISU, Iowa State University, home to the Cyclones, is in Ames.

Pachelbel's Canon in D is in D MAJ, as noted on April 18, 2018.  I really hate key questions.

"Cheese in moussaka" was a clue for FETA on August 9, 2017.

Clever clues: "They turn on machines" is COGS.  "Groundwork of a plant manager?" is SEED BED.  "Something there's almost no point to?" is EPEE.  "Round things?" is BEERS.  "One way to the top" is T-BAR.

Well, this was an unusual Thursday!  I found it to be a confounding and ultimately satisfying challenge.  Why, I might OPINE that this is the bst pzzl f th wk!

Wednesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 25, 2020

                            My time: 6:59 , nearly three minutes faster than average. Theme: Three pairs of words that are "flipped&quo...