My time: 11:43, a new record!
The theme today, courtesy of Mike Selinker and NPR radio host Peter Sagal, is very clever and references the NEW YORK MARATHON. The themed answers are five phrases with their customary BOROUGHS removed. For example, you get "a show of contempt:" [Bronx] CHEER, "an upper-class accent:" [Queen's] ENGLISH, and "a 1940s program:" [Manhattan] PROJECT. I grasped this theme very early on, as soon as I saw that the Bronx had been removed from "show of contempt."
Just because I knocked three minutes off my time doesn't mean I didn't have trouble. Mostly, though, there was just a lot of clever cluing.
Right off, I had *ISLE for "any of the Galapagos, e.g." It's actually ISLA, which is a cheap trick. That had me losing precious seconds wondering what the crossfill, *EGA, was. Of course, "Istanbul commander" is actually AGA.
I like "small cape" for SPIT. My mind was stuck on clothing, not geography.
I think this is the second time I've seen "I'M GAY" in a NYT puzzle.
I do not like the plural OPIUMS. That's silly.
For "noted government agent during Prohibition," I had *T-MAN but it's NESS.
"Trump is often involved in this:" BIDS. It's a bridge and a The Donald clue!
I did not know PAPA John's was named for John Schnatter. He was wise to go with the nickname.
It's Issa, one of the people named RAES, again, last seen September 11.
For "attire, formally," I initially put *DUDS but it's the much more stodgy TOGS. My dad used to say that.
For "was just on deck" I couldn't stop thinking about ship decks. It's baseball --- sigh --- and the answer is IS UP.
I thought Face With Tears of Joy would be some sort of modern art piece, but it's an EMOJI.
A KNOB of butter is a very old-fashioned (or maybe just British) phrase.
"Comment with the pinkie and forefinger extended upward" gave me the most trouble. I knew immediately what was intended, but I had *ROCK IT, *ROCKIN', and then finally ROCK ON.
Likewise, I put country singer Trace *ATKINS and not the correct Trace, ADKINS.
Totally new to me department: Zagazig, EGYPT. It's known for its university.
I don't know the Stevie Wonder song "DO I DO." It is from his album Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I.
I never read the Series of Unfortunate Events books, so Count OLAF "of children's literature" escaped me for a bit. He's the bad guy!
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 ...