Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wednesday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 4, 2018.

My time: 6:27.

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Freddie Cheng wishes us a HAPPY FOURTH in this puzzle, which celebrates the fourth item of several sets.

The names of the sets are in brackets after each themed clue.  For example, "Identifications on left-hand pages, traditionally [the Bible]" is EVEN NUMBERS.  because Numbers is the fourth book of the Bible, ha ha.  "Setting for a popular show [dimensions]" is PRIME TIME, time being the fourth dimension.  And so on.

It doesn't really help with the solve, since the clues are already there in full, and the fourths are just extra bits of information totally unnecessary to filling in the answer.  Still, it's a fun and timely theme.

And yet... I think I'd have enjoyed more of a challenge.  I think the clued could be cut and combined, such as in "not odd [the Bible]" and "grade A [dimensions]" so the theme of fourths would actually be needed to fill in the theme clues.  That way when the penny dropped it would really be gratifying.

I had no idea who Renée Fleming is, so I didn't know her performance was an ARIA.

"Letter before Peter in a phonetic alphabet" is OBOE?  Yes, but not the NATO phonetic alphabet.  In the NATO version, it's November, Oscar, Papa.  Nan, OBOE and Peter are in the 1943 Allied alphabet.

Some people use CEDAR wood in closets or just keep a piece of that wood in their closet because it's said to have insect-repelling properties.

I did not know that Hong Kong, Macau, and Guangzhou were all part of a "dense megalopolis" called the PEARL RIVER DELTA (this is a themed clue; Delta is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet).  This megacity is also known as Zhujiang Delta or Zhusanjiao, includes Chaoshan and Fuzhou, and has a combined population of something like 120 million, depending on what you're counting.

Another themed answer is BRUNO MARS (fourth planet), who is clued here as recording the 2017 Album of the Year 24K Magic.  I am not hip to the musics of today.

"Goddess who captured Orion" is EOS, who fell in love with him and took him away to Delos, until Artemis killed him, possibly out of jealousy.

The Times crossword loves tennis players!  Here it's GORAN Ivanišević, Croatian player ranked number 2 in the world in 1994.  He is the only player to have won Wimbledon as a wild card.

"Govt. debt instrument" is T-NOTE.

Indian state known for its tea ASSAM first appeared on October 26, 2017.  And then again on February 2.

Massachusetts' Cape ANN has come up a couple of times, and last appeared on January 7.

UTES has come up a lot, and always clued as "Pac-12 team."

Scottish island IONA has also come up a lot, but today is the first time it's been defined as "Macbeth's burial site."  An inventory of 1549 recorded 48 kings buried there in total, from Kenneth MacAlpin to MacBeth, made famous by Shakespeare, and his victim, Duncan, all made their final journey there, across the sound to Iona, onto the harbor, and up the Street of the Dead to the burial ground.

Clever clues: "Something a bug might produce" is ERROR.  "Handle" is TEND, as in tending to a problem and handling it.  "Small, medium, or large" is ADJ.

I liked this puzzle, with its APT topical theme.  Not too hard, not too easy.  BANG UP JOB, Freddie Cheng.  So say we all, UNA voce.

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