Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday's New York Times puzzle solved: May 17, 2018

My time: 12:48.

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In this exceedingly clever puzzle, David J. Kahn showcases two cities that were founded in MAY 1978: NEW ORLEANS and SAN ANTONIO.  Crossing the former is a sight found at the latter, the ALAMODOME, while crossing the latter is the Big Easy's famed JAZZ BANDS.

What makes this theme particularly fun is the use of numerals in the grid.  Crossing the year in the center date are NOT 1 BIT ('zero"), 7-UP ("soft drink whose logo features a red circle"), 1-L'S ("law school beginners"), and 8-BALL ("it's bad to be behind it").  I loved this!  It's a new idea to me, and I admire the theme's cohesion and symmetry.

I have never heard of ILYA Frank, Russian winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958 for his work on Cherenkov radiation, which has to do with energy released when a particle moves faster than light through a medium, or something.

NFL Hall of Famer MEL Blount is not someone I know.  He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is considered one of the best cornerbacks of all time!  Uh... and what's a cornerback, then?

I call a RIP SAW a "saw."

"Plant bristles" is AWNS, not a word I encounter on a daily basis.

Are the SIERRAS considered a particularly jagged mountain range?  Well, there are many ranges called by that name across the globe, and since the name means "saw," I suppose most are pretty jagged.  The ones in the Sierra Madre don't look all that jagged to me, but the Sierra Nevada mountains seem pretty saw-toothed.

I've had a bit of rum in my life, but not TIA Maria, a rum-based coffee liqueur.

"St. Lawrence and others" is SEAWAYS.  I was not expecting that!  It's a system in Canada and the US that allows ships to travel from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes.

Did you know president John TYLER has 15 children?  This is because he had eight children with his first wife.  After she died, Tyler began courting 23-year-old Julia Gardiner (30 years his junior), and had seven more children.  The old goat!  He also has two living grandchildren.  That's because he had his third-to-last child at 63, and that child, Lyon, had his son at 72.  Why don't we learn these tidbits in school?

"Big shake" is SEISM.  Ugh, this is like "plasm" and "poult" from three days ago.

We all know that saucy minx Ana├»s NIN, but I'm not familiar with her work.  Winter of Artifice is her second published book, a volume of novellas, including the controversial "Djuna" and her account of an incestuous relationship with a father.

Giuseppe Verdi's opera AIDA is set in Egypt, and takes place near the temple of ISIS.

IONE comes up a lot in puzzles.  This time it's as a Nereid, a sea nymph, as on August 11, 2017.

Democratic Congressman ADAM Schiff last appeared on September 26, 2017.

Actress LILI Taylor appeared on November 28, 2017, as having a role in Mystic Pizza.  Today they cite the 2009 Johnny Depp vehicle Public Enemies.  She does not have high billing in that film.

I was briefly puzzled by "ORD listing" (ETA), but ORD is Chicago O'Hare, and first was used in a clue on January 17 (and was again used January 21).

Clever clues: "Ink spot?" is TATTOO.  "Make a submarine disappear?" is EAT.  "Expert spelling?" is VOODOO.

Wow, this was a very clever, and equally challenging, puzzle!  I didn't do too badly, either, considering its relative difficulty.  I'm going to give myself a hand --- CLAP! --- and if I were to grade my performance, I'd say I get a RED A (like Hester Prynne).

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