Today's time: 27:17. At this point, anything under a half hour on a Sunday is a victory.
On this, the last day of 2017, the Year That America Died, John Lampkin "rings" in the new. That means he takes the Os (the rings) in clued answers out at the top half of the puzzle, and adds them in clued entries at the second half of the puzzle. Both types of answers, O negative and O positive, are clued as they actually are written rather than as the traditional phrases they replace.
(Before I finished this puzzle, I thought Lampkin had moved the Os from the across answers to the downs and maybe it was a visual pun on the ball dropping. I don't know.)
Anyway, so "list of things said by Siri" is CELL RECITAL, and the O from cello is taken out. Or "Washington D.C.?" is POL GROUNDS, with the O in polo taken out. Then on the bottom half we have such things as "treat that gives a glowing complexion?" which is URANIUM OREO. And "weeklong Irish vacation" is SEVEN DAYS IN MAYO. Ha ha! My vote for the funniest themed clue is "result of a French powdered drink shortage?" which is LAST TANG IN PARIS.
"New Deal org." is one of those clues that can have lots of answers. This one is CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps. The government employed people to plant trees and make trails in national parks. We would be wise to repeat this venture.
"Legends in the automotive world" is ACURAS, which I would have considered a very clever clue if I had only known that the Legend is a luxury model made by Acura. As it is, I was baffled.
"Blade runner?" is FAN and not *SKI which I had originally. "Wise sorts" is OWLS and not *GUYS.
I have not heard of the crossword world's other Erle, ERLE C. Kenton, a director and one of the original Keystone Kops. He made some genuine 1930s B-grade schlock as well as House of Dracula and Island of Lost Souls.
"Nessun Dorma" is the ARIA from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot, sung by Calaf as he boasts to the titular princess that he can solve her riddles.
Gotta brush up on those state symbols! Indiana's state flower is the PEONY.
EDESSA was an ancient city in Mesopotamia, located in present-day Turkey. It switched hands during the Crusades but was finally absorbed by the Ottoman Empire.
By gosh, OSH is the second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan and is said to be 3000 years old.
"Wand material in the Harry Potter books" for ELM is a very bad clue, as the wands can be made of any wood.
For "'King Lear' role" I had *REGAN, but it's EDGAR, the young heir framed by his brother for plotting to kill their father. He disguises himself as a crazy beggar named Tom.
IONE is the heroine in the novel The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward "It was a dark and stormy night" Bulwar-Lytton. She is a high-born Greek orphan set to marry the protagonist, Glaucus, but pursued by her nasty ward Arbaces. This name has also appeared in the puzzle as a sea nymph and as the actress Ione Skye.
The Last Stuart queen was ANNE, daughter of James II. She was not just the last Stuart queen but last Stuart monarch; her successor was George I, her second cousin, of the house of Hanover.
The 1974 CIA spoof is the poorly-rated movie S*P*Y*S, starring Robert Gould and Donald Southerland, who were coincidentally in M*A*S*H.
I'm not sure either OTERO county (in New Mexico or Colorado!) is well-known enough to merit placement in a Sunday puzzle. I think they're probably both named after a municipality in Spain.
Clever clues: "Work as a branch manager?" is LOP. "Neuron's ends?" is ENS.
That's the end. Happy NYE.
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