My time: 28:44. Yikes!
This one knocked me around for nearly half an hour! It wasn't the (very clever and fun) theme, which I sussed out relatively early; it was a few spots of quite tough fill!
The theme, which I love, is that starred clues take a UEY (which I originally wrote as the more common *UIE). That is, they run forward, then move down and backwards. This means that the clue below must not only be sensical fill, it must complete the phrase from above. So you get, for example, PRIVATE LINES, appearing as PRIVAT above SENILE. This was the first themed answer I got, suspecting something like a reversal from the start (though not dreaming it would take up two lines of fill). Other themed clues include TATTLETALE, appearing as TATTL above ELATE; TWO-TIME LOSER, appearing as TWOTIM above RESOLE; and the cleverest of them all, STRIKES A BALANCE, appearing as STRIK above ABASE above LANCE.
A "connection provider, for short" is DSL, which we know, but do we know it stands for Digital Subscriber Line? I didn't.
"Ragtime legend" EUBIE Blake probably lives on in the minds of more crossword solvers than music lovers. "Eubie" is a nickname for Hubert. Here is 91-year-old Eubie playing "Love Will Find a Way" in 1978.
Cigars should be kept MOIST? What? That's like, the opposite of what I would have thought.
I hate clues like "Perhaps ____" for NOT. That's NOT any more of a discrete phrase than "you're right" or "maybe later." They're just two words that go together when the occasion calls for it.
For "social gathering" I initially had *TEA; it's BEE.
I've been out of college so long that "tomorrow's jr." meant nothing to me. I needed most of the crossfill for SOPH.
"Knight's need" is also vague. *STEED? *ARMOR? *SWORD? Ah, LANCE.
NORA Helmer, the protagonist of "A Doll's House," is a name I haven't heard in years.
I am the single most clueless-about-sports American male, an ongoing series: baseball player TRIS Speaker is someone I've never heard of, but he has some cool nicknames. "The Grey Eagle" and (of his glove) "the place where triples go to die." He also has the sixth best batting average of all time.
Also, ALAIN Prost, a race car driver. (He was nicknamed "The Professor" for his intellectual approach to competition.)
Apparently moon rocks are mostly BASALT. (And, I learned in researching this, "moon rocks" is also the name of some marijuana concoction.)
VEEPSTAKES? Come on. And MISCALL is a poker blunder? I was trying to put in some sort of tell. But what's a miscall? You either call or you don't.
Michael O'KEEFE is an actor noted for his role in The Great Santini, which I guess I should watch.
Clever clues: "Head lines, briefly?" is EEGS; "George I or V?" is SOFT G; "Boxer's concern" is FLEAS. Har!
My time: 6:43 . -- Benjamin Kramer serves us up an ace of a puzzle with this VOLLEYBALL-loving grid. The themed answers LIP SERVICE, th...
My time: 11:43 . -- Today we are treated to a themeless by Sam Ezersky. It's nothing jaw-dropping, but it's a solid Saturday. ...
My time: 17:47 , just one minute too slow for the record! -- Ross Trudeau collected a series of cryptids from divers geographical areas ...