Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday's New York Times puzzle solved: April 7, 2018

My time: 23:17, a bit better than average for Saturday.  It seemed like a lot longer.

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Mark Diehl constructed this masterclass in themeless puzzling.  With only 26 black squares, and some truly impressive big fill such as COFFEEMATE, ONION BAGEL, BEERGARITA ("Coronoa with tequila and fruit juice, e.g.") --- those three are a real breakfast of champions --- COPIED DOWN, TRAM ROUTES, I'M NO EXPERT, ENGINE NUMBER ("fire department ID"), TUNA MELT, MENU PAGES, FAIR DICE ("things that can't be loaded"), NEWEL, and yes, even ZENO'S PARADOX (Achilles and the tortoise stuff, somewhat cryptically clued as "early example of reductio ad absurdum").  Whew! That's a great Diehl of amazingly well crafted fill!

All that definitely requires some cap doffing, just like yesterday.  Doff!

Things got off to a poor start when I unthinkingly put *TITO for "Leader among the Axis powers."  Josip Franz Tito, of course, was an anti-Nazi communist.  It's Hideki TOJO, who authorized the attack on Pearl Harbor and was hanged by the War Crimes Tribunal in 1948.

Continuing my brain-deadedness, I could not come up with the name of first US Congresswoman Jeannette RANKIN (R, Montana, 1916 and 1940), even though I certainly have studied her career before.

TANZANIA was formed in 1964 as a merger of the British territories Tanganyika and the Zanzibar Archipelago.  Again, I'm familiar with this, but I just couldn't get the letters together.

For "John of the Plymouth colony," I thought about both *SMITH and *ROLFE, but it turned out to be John ALDEN, whom I've never heard of.  Starting out at the ship's cooper, he held several government positions in the New World.

Did you know NINE was the CB emergency channel?  Me neither.

"Article of clothing not originating where its name would suggest" is PANAMA hat, which is apparently of Ecuadorian origin.

We all know Brian ENO, but do we know he released his twenty-fifth studio album, The Ship, in 2016?  No, but we didn't care all that much either.

A totally new word to me is PRECESS ("spin like a gyroscope").  For example, general relativity predicts that the elliptical orbits of planets PRECESS around the sun.

Apparently the NBA DRAFT is in June?  And I guess the season starts in October?  And ends in April?  I don't know anything about basketball.

Speaking of basketball, Jermaine O'NEAL is apparently a six-time All-Star in the NBA.  I can't keep track of all these pituitary cases.

I also have not read Tess of the D'Urbervilles, so am not familiar with ALEC D'Urberville, the villain of the novel who rapes Tess and then later converts to Christianity and offers to marry her, after she's already married.

"2001 Israel Prize winner" stumped me, as I have not heard of the prize in question.   It's an award granted by the state of Israel for achievement in the arts, humanities, and sciences.  In 2001 it was awarded to Abba EBAN, whom we met on December 22, 2017.

"Condition caused by abnormal calcium levels" is TETANY, a condition presenting as muscle spasms, which I've never heard of.

The Piazza dei Miracoli is located in PISA, Italy.  Its formal name is Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square.  It is home to several architectural wonders, but my favorite is Pisa Cathedral.

I put ETON collar in right away!

Clever clues: "Prepares for a drill?" is OPENS WIDE.  "Fix a flat for?" is TUNE.

Well, IMO, that was extremely tough.  The long fill, the new material, the vague clues...  It made me WIND UP all tuckered out.  On to Sunday?  Maybe?

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Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: August 2, 2020

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