My time: 14:02.
I'M STUCK was definitely this frustrated solver's cry on today's puzzle by Jeff Chen. For whatever reason, the clues were just not clicking with me, although I had a good chuckle or two at their cleverness after the fact.
The theme today is football, sort of. The grid shows a big football goal Y in the middle, and right under that is an "important case for national security" --- the NUCLEAR FOOTBALL. Funny!
(We've seen this two-pronged black shape in the grid before, on December 21, 2017.)
I knew that INDIANA was known as the "Crossroads of America" because US Highway 40 and US Highway 41 intersect there (specifically at Terre Haute), but I didn't know it was the state motto.
I misread the clue "When the tempest occurs in 'The Tempest'" as "Where the tempest occurs" and put *ASEA. It's ACT I. Whoops!
I didn't know that IHOP is a sister chain of Applebee's. They are both owned by Dine Brands Global.
"World Cup cheer" is a terrible clue for USA.
For "just treatment" I had *FAIR SHARE which sowed me down quite a bit. It's actually FAIR SHAKE.
"Fictional work that eschews literary conventions" is ANTINOVEL. The term was popularized by Sartre.
MACON, Georgia is home to Mercer University. I accidentally put this as *MASON for a while. Founded in 1833, Mercer is the oldest private university in Georgia.
I'm so not a sports guy that I had to guess at the football term D-LINE.
Bulgaria's TSARS Simeon I and Simeon II appeared on January 26.
Russian-French artist ERTE appeared on September 27, 2017. Today he is used in a clue as an example of DECO art. In 1915, Erte began an association with "Harper’s Bazaar" by designing covers of each of their magazines for the next 22 years. The influence of his work as a result of the high visibility of this periodical influenced an entire art movement that was to become known as Art Deco. He said, "Art Deco, of course, is the confluence of Cubism and Art Nouveau." Of course!
Clever clues: "Projected expense for a roofer?" is EAVE. "Get cheeky with?" is MOON. "Rice left on a shelf, maybe" is ANNE. "Hit with big charge" is TASE. "Reality show whose contestants must be good with numbers" is THE VOICE. "Long range" is ANDES. "How bugs may be eaten" is ON A DARE. "John in England" is ELTON.
I was definitely not saying "AH, BLISS" at the end of this puzzle. But I did enjoy the surprise theme and the plethora of devious clues.
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