My time: 8:58.
Richard F. Mausser incorporates (symmetrically, to his credit) a quip "attributed to British comedian Ken Dodd:" I HAVE / KLEPTOMANIA, BUT / WHEN IT GETS BAD / I TAKE SOMETHING / FOR IT. Ha, that's a knee slapper.
Dodd was a music-hall singer and rapid-fire comedian who was famed for his three-hour comedy performances, and his props known as "tickle sticks."
What "Missouri city, informally" is ST. JOE? St. Joseph, known for being the birthplace of Eminem. I put *ST. LOU.
"Suffix with narc-" got me good. I put *-OTIC for a long time and couldn't understand why it clearly didn't fit. It's -OSIS. I must have been in a state of narcosis myself.
I did not know that scientists have found trace amounts of OPAL gemstones on Mars (or at least, on a Martian meteorite?). They may contain microbes!
The Westminster Bridge is a bridge on the river THAMES, painted green like the House of Commons which is close by.
For "Algonquian language" I thought about putting *ONEIDA, but they're Iroquois of course. It's OJIBWA (often spelled Ojibwe), who mostly live in Canada.
The cue that gave me the most pause was "kind of off-season baseball league." Even as it became clear the answer was HOT STOVE, I wondered if it was right. I have never in my forty-something years heard of this term. It's not a league at all, but a euphemism, like armchair quarterback. It refers to fans gathering around a hot stove in the winter to rehash all the sports action the saw during the season.
Speaking of sports, "Big" BEN Roethlisberger is a quarterback for the Steelers. A two-time Super Bowl champion, he also is the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in NFL history, leading a win in Super Bowl XL at the age of 23.
Speaking of football, I uncharacteristically knew that the EAGLES were the champs this year became that fat moron Russian puppet in the Oval Office disinvited them after they said they wouldn't be visiting.
A school of whales is not just a pod but a GAM. I vaguely remembered this from September 15, 2017.
CIA spook SPYS (styled S*P*Y*S) appeared on December 31, 2017.
Clever clues: "It's not free of charge" is ION. "Mud" is JAVA. "Needing quarters, maybe" is COIN-OP (I kept thinking about needing shelter).
This one had a lot of clues that were hard to ENWRAP my head around. It was NOT SO easy! I guess I'm a little SLOW.
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 ...