My time: 18:22.
Timothy Polin has a way with WORDs, but not a way that is easy for me to appreciate. First, he plays off a classic letter puzzle, WORD SQUARE, that is something I have seen before but never taken much interest in, and didn't necessarily attach that name to. Using that as his hint, Polin makes a rebus where the word WORD is placed in a box and read that way across, but --- and here's the fiendishly clever part --- reading down they're "parsed differently," as either W or D!! The themed entries read across as FIGHTING [WORD]S, [WORD] PROCESSOR, and PUT IN A [WORD] FOR. Down, they connect with "things at the ends of dogs' legs:" PADS or PAWS; "how some jokes are delivered:" WRYLY or DRYLY; and "entertaining, in a way:" WINING or DINING. Dang, that's clever. Too clever for my blood, even!
Some of the clues are a little too abstruse for my tastes, too. POPE is clued as "leader in white," which I concede is fair but I found tough. And "Mao Zedong or Mahatma Gandhi" are ICONS?
"Castle with famous steps" is a clever clue, or I would have been tickled by it had I heard of IRENE Castle, the ballroom dancer and actor it refers to.
I've never heard of ARAL Karakum, a desert in Kazakhstan. Not to be confused with the Karakum Desert, in Turkmenistan.
"No mas!" isn't the famous Roberto Duran cry in Spanish, but actually telling you it's not the plural of ma. It's PAS, as in all pa, no ma.
I love ANYHOO for "moving right along..."
The TRIASSIC, the geological period between the relatively recent Jurassic and positively ancient Permian, is when mammals first appeared.
The silly word ENHALO appeared February 15, as "put a ring on." Here it's "treat as a saint."
New to me department: the word PASEO, meaning a leisurely evening stroll.
Did you know that EUROPE is the blue area on a Risk board? Me neither. In fact, I see a lot of Risk boards online with all kinds of colors. But I guess the classic board is Europe blue, Africa red, North America brown to yellow, Asia green.
UNTUNE for "disharmonize." Boo to both.
Instead of *POD or *PED, the answer to foot in Latin is PES. That's the singular nominative in the language itself, you uncultured Philistine. No corrupted prefixes for us!
"Tee shot goof" is HOOK. That's a ball that goes outward the wrong direction and then curves back toward the golfer.
"Annual cinéma award" CESAR appeared November 19, 2017.
Clever clue: "Where a bowl is set" is GRIDIRON.
This was a tough puzzle. I nearly gave up, but with one last DO OR DIE effort, I managed to eke out a win. That Timothy Polin is one clever QAT.
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