My time: 7:57, not that good.
Jeff Stillman created this puzzle, where a part of URSA MAJOR, a.k.a. the GREAT BEAR, is created within the puzzle. Seven letters, A-G, are circled and the represent the stars that make up the BIG DIPPER, the asterism within the constellation. The first themed answer is clued as "constellation next to Draco" --- this being a never-setting constellation first described by Ptolemy.
Finally, the solver is asked to draw a line from circle F through circle G and imagine the NORTH STAR, which of course the BIG DIPPER points to ("follow the drinking gourd"). All in all, pretty clever!
For "part of a gig" I wanted to put *TYRE as in a carriage, but it's BYTE, as in gigabyte.
"2008 Benicio del Toro role" is CHE.
I needed some crossfill to come up with U-Haul competitor RYDER.
I'm not quite sure why "took the cake" is WON. They're... not quite equivalent, are they?
Somehow out of the recesses of my mind I dredged up the name of Dame Myra HESS, a British pianist who was prominent in the 1930s and '40s.
Crossword constructors love the prefix TETRA-. Here, Jeff Stillman cites TETRAhydrozoline, an ingredient in eye drops and nose sprays. This is a word that every man and women on the street is familiar with, surely.
More fun with chemistry! "Compound in synthetic rubber" is BUTENE, also known as butylene. I was told there would be no chemistry on this exam.
I'm not a flower type guy, so I didn't know that a pansy is also called a heart's-EASE. Flowers and fish must be the things with the greatest divergence of names, I think. This one is viola tricolor, also known as Johnny-jump-up, heart's delight, tickle-my-fancy, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, come-and-cuddle-me, three faces in a hood, or love-in-idleness. Those would make good names for fairies in a child's fantasy book.
The 1962 Paul Anka hit "ESO BESO" last appeared on April 15.
The poem form RONDEL came back to me from its appearance on April 6.
Clever clues: "Start of a decision-making process" is EENY. "Lab warning?' is ARF. "Caesar's world?" is ORBIS.
That's a LOT of new stuff for a Tuesday. I wish I'd done this one with a little more SPEEDO.
My time: 6:43 . -- Benjamin Kramer serves us up an ace of a puzzle with this VOLLEYBALL-loving grid. The themed answers LIP SERVICE, th...
My time: 11:43 . -- Today we are treated to a themeless by Sam Ezersky. It's nothing jaw-dropping, but it's a solid Saturday. ...
My time: 17:47 , just one minute too slow for the record! -- Ross Trudeau collected a series of cryptids from divers geographical areas ...