My time: 19:02.
Roland Huget designed today's Saturday themeless, which looks like a square Pokéball and has seven answers that span the entire width of the puzzle. AMERICAN CUISINE, TESTED THE WATERS, and BIOLUMINESCENCE (one of the first answers I entered) are fine, but I don't think LAST THE DISTANCE is something anyone says.
"Descendant of Ishmael" is ARAB; here Ishmael isn't the Moby-Dick narrator but the figure from the Torah and the Quran. The clue, however, is a gross oversimplification. By some traditions, some Arabs are descendants of Ishmael; other Christians say this isn't the case.
Why is le jardin at its height in ETE? Isn't it in the printemps?
I haven't heard of the phrase CEREMONIAL START ("race day opening event"). The Iditarod has one.
"Relatives of guppies" are PLATIES, which I never heard of. The platy is common to the east coast waters of Central America and Mexico. They bear live young, similar to other fish of the family Poeciliidae, such as the guppy and molly.
I wasn't sure what a windjammer was, so found it hard to solve the question of its setting. It's a square sail cargo ship, so it belongs in the SEA.
In other transportation mysteries, an AWACS plane is one with radar used to detect other vehicles for surveillance or fighting purposes. It stands for Airborne early Warning And Control System. It seems to mostly be abbreviated AEW&C.
For "common French word that sounds like two letters of the alphabet" I put *AMI but it's ICI. In retrospect, M.E. is not pronounced like *AMI.
For "feature of Wyane Manor" I put *BATCAVE but it's BATPOLE, which tickles me.
Why is CITS. an abbreviation for residents? It's short for citizens. Howdy, fellow cit!
Today I learned that not only has OSAKA been destroyed by Godzilla, but it's also home of the first Universal Studios outside the US. It opened in 2001. The other parks are in Orlando, Hollywood, and Singapore.
Here's a movie that's a pop culture mainstay and known instantly by every Anglophone: RIO RITA, a 1942 Abbott and Costello, in which they play Doc and Wishy, respectively. They run into some Nazi agents who want to smuggle bombs into the USA from a Mexican border hotel.
For "plate armor designed to protect the thighs" I confidently and smugly put *CUISSES, but it's --- wha?? --- TASSETS. Never heard of it.
Also never heard of Jorge BOLET, a Cuban-American pianist and teacher who worked from the 1950s to '70s. His playing was criticized in America as being too focused on romantic virtuosity. Only in 1974 did he come to national prominence, with a stupendous recital in that year at Carnegie Hall, which sealed his reputation.
"Glee character in a wheelchair" is ARTIE Adams, and this clue appeared way back on September 8, 2017.
Clever clues: "They may require more than one return" is SEPARATE INCOMES. "Haus call?" is ACH, which doesn't make a whole lot sense. I guess a German might "call out" "Ach!" for some reason? "Source of some Mideast calls" is MINARET. "Makings of a plot" is SEEDBED. I particularly like "Exercise in the economy of language," TWEET.
As you know, I care about my solve times. I guess I'm just RESULTS ORIENTED. I did better than average, but not great; this wasn't my day.
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 ...