My time: 21:30.
This puzzle, by Sam Trabucco, has a sorta-maybe theme of... double letters? That might just be a coincidence. At first I thought it had a room theme, featuring as it does ESCAPE ROOM and ROOM TO NEGOTIATE, but then there's THE LEGION OF DOOM where another room word ought to go, and then there's a very large amount of double letters: BOO-HOOED, GALLIVANTED, TALLAHASSEE, TECH SCHOOLS, SNAKE EYES, STRESS EATER... All rather unusual fill, but I don't know if there's a theme here.
Abba EBAN was an Israeli diplomat, the Ambassador to the United States, and apparently born Aubrey Solomon Meir Eban. He changed his name to Abba from the Hebrew word for father, as he saw himself as the father of Israel. Gee, ego much, Aubrey?
SERGEI Rachmaninoff was a Russian pianist and composer who started playing piano at age four. He is well known for many compositions, particularly "Prelude in C-Sharp Minor." It was said that his hands could span an octave and half. They may have been a symptom of his poor health.
There were five major engagements during WWI at the Belgian town of YPRES. John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" was composed after the second battle of Ypres.
I didn't know that the show "Black-ish" was on ABC. I don't watch much TV.
DIDO is well known as the founder of Carthage, in myth. Also, remember that she is also called Elissa. In the Aeneid, Dido and Aeneas fall in love through the actions of Juno and Venus. After Aeneas sails away to Italy, commanded to do so by Jupiter and Mercury, Dido throws herself on a funeral pyre and a sword. When they meet in the underworld, it's awwwkwaaard.
For "low throw," I kept thinking about tossing a ball, like a grounder, but it's a dice roll, SNAKE EYES.
Is PONG really how people informally refer to ping-pong? "Hey, bro, wanna play some pong? I'm ready to pong it up." Beer pong, maybe.
"Days of yore, in days of yore" is ELD. It's an archaic word for antiquity. It also means one's age or period in life. "Conan was tall and broad for his eld."
I didn't know that Ellis Island was named for a merchant, Samuel ELLIS. He doesn't even have his own Wikipedia article. He owned the island.
"Letters on old film boxes," AGFA, stands for American Genre Film Archive.
For "screw over," I put *CHEAT, and grew puzzled as it became clear that it wasn't right. It's SHAFT.
For "guidelines observed in sisterhood," I was thinking of some kind of religious order for nuns, but it's the more pedestrian GIRL CODE.
"Do some diamond cutting?" is MOW. I didn't understand this, and am not sure even now. I think it's about the criss-cross diamond pattern that some people cut in their lawns?
For "way out," I put *EGRESS, but it's the other meaning. FREAKY, man.
Clever clues: "Commitment you something can't get out of?" is ESCAPE ROOM (though I'm not sure if commitment is strictly accurate). "Bazaar makeup" is SHOPS (and not *KOHLS). "Beauty mark?" is TEN. "Lee side?" is REBS (I was wondering if it was going to be a jeans-related pun). "What's always found in quotes?" is PRICE. "Corn site" is TOE (and not *EAR or *COB or *ROW).
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 ...