Today's time: 18:29.
Bruce Haight constructed this puzzle with a clever theme. In several phrases which include the word "back," that word is omitted, but the word before is spelled backwards. So, for example: WE'LL BE THGIR (we'll be right back), AND DON'T EMOC (and don't come back), GUESS SOHW (guess who's back), etc.
The theme didn't bother me much, as I figured out something was different pretty early on and worked it out. It was the rest of the fill that slowed me down!
"James or Luther of R&B" I had to work out letter by letter, and ended up guessing INGRAM. James Ingram is a two-time Grammy winner, and had the #1 hit "I Don't Have the Heart." Not my cup of tea. Luther Ingram, no relation, was active in the 1960s and '70s, and had the #1 hit "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right." Also not my cup of meat.
Did you know IRS form 5498 covers IRAs? Me neither.
I'm a big fan of the Three Musketeers pentalogy, but didn't remember The Black Tulip was one of his. I haven't read it.
Back again department:
IONA, "Hebredes isle," last seen October 5!
ARI Shapiro, last seen October 31!
"Credit Suisse rival" is UBS, another Swiss wealth management group. It was originally named as an acronym for Union Bank of Switzerland.
The 1797 Napoleon victory wanted here is the Battle of RIVOLI, in which outnumbered French forces defeated Austrian forces, ending the siege of Mantua and placing it in Napoleon's control.
I don't like YARNED for "told tales." Ugh. Same for ICER for "one doing a mob hit."
Totally new to me department: Mob boss Frank NITTI, aka Frank the Enforcer, originally Nitto. He was one of Al Capone's top henchmen and his eventual successor. He survived an attempt on his life by corrupt copes, and much later committed suicide.
"IM'ing option" is GCHAT. Oddly, apparently this doesn't exist anymore and has been replaced with... Google Hangouts!
I has *UTE for "actress Hagen," but it's UTA Hagen. She was born in Germany.
I've heard of KENNY G (who hasn't?) but not his instrumental hit "Songbird." Also not my thing. I don't know about you, but I feel that is the most groundbreaking and visually appealing video of all time.
Lon NOL is not only an anagram name, it's a Cambodian general who led a coup against the prince in 1970 and became president of the Khmer Republic. He fled the Khmer Rouge and lived in Hawaii and California. Don't you love a happy ending?
Tennyson's "Geraint and ENID" is a section in his Idylls of the King poem cycle. It tells how Geraint keeps testing Enid because he thinks she's unfaithful, and she keeps failing his tests by warning him when bandits are about to ambush them. It was a different time, man.
NIA Long is an actress who was in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "NCIS" and "Empire" and "Third Watch" and I don't watch any of those shows and I've never heard of her.
Clever clues: "Powerful bloodline?" is AORTA. "Transfer" is DECAL.
Whew. That was a long slog, just like the fill itself. Thank goodness all that's O'ER.
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