Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times puzzle solved: May 2, 2018

My time: 7:03.

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Bryant White is the architect who drew up the plans for this puzzle.  It's a mysterious house, with several secret spots.  The WINE CELLAR is at the bottom of the grid, there's a TROPHY ROOM at the northwest, and a WALL SCONCE running down the west side.  On the east we find a FALSE PANEL by the BOOK CASE, and best of all, a HIDEAWAY that starts the shaded phrase in the center: a staggered HID / DE / N S / TA / IR / CA / SE running across and down the middle.

Very well done.  A clever grid that evokes memories of the mysterious, EERIE old haunted mansions of bygone movies.  On to the rest!

Christmas Island is a 52-square mile island owned by Australia, located 220 miles south of JAVA.

LENA the Hyena is a little-known creation by Basil Wolverton.  She debuted in Al Capp's Li'l Abner as "the ugliest woman in the world."  Being a big comics and comix geek, I'm familiar with the artist, but I'm surprised to find this level of obscurity referenced on a Wednesday.

A-E-I-O-U are the "key parts of a supervocalic word."  Supervocalic is just a neologism meaning "having all the vowels once."  It's not a term found in dictionaries, apparently having been coined by Erik Chaikin, a language researcher.

"Martial art with bamboo swords" is KENDO, a full-contact sport that also uses body armor called bōgu.

Car pioneer Olds' first name, Ransom, appeared on August 12, 2017 (A DATE which will live in infamy because it took me 50 minutes).  However, his middle name, ELI, has not come up before.

RCA has appeared before, as a descendant of American Marconi, but I only vaguely remember that its mascot is called Nipper, the dog peering into the gramophone.  Note that this RCA is RCA Records, a descendant of the Victor Talking Machine Company.  The original dog and gramophone image was a painting by Francis Barraud titled "His Master's Voice," and several companies used it.

"Fastener with a flange" is T-NUT.  Not to be confused with T-MEN.

I've never heard of violinist, composer, and teacher Leopold AUER.  Another one of those Hungarian virtuosos, he is remembered best as a brilliant pedagogue whose teaching influenced many of the greatest players of the twentieth century.

Massachusetts' state motto is "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem," which means "We have the best schools in the country."  No no, it means "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty."

I'm tired of seeing ONER in crossword puzzles.  "Extraordinary thing, in slang."  I have never heard or read this word outside of puzzles.  No one says, "That's a real oner!"  Let's end ONER.

Chris "Thor" Hemsworth is best known, but he has two lesser-known actor brothers, Luke and LIAM.

Poison SUMAC, a.k.a. thunderwood, appeared on September 8, 2017.

Clever clues: "Elicit a slug with a pillow, maybe" is SNORE.  "Quartets after some infighting?" is TRIOS.  "Subjects of meltdowns" is RODS.

I very much enjoyed this well-constructed puzzle.  There were a lot of unknowns for a Wednesday, but in all they were NOH problem.

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Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: August 9, 2020

                              My time: 19:28 , not too shabby for a Sunday! Theme: SHIPSHAPE, as shown when you connect the "dots"...