Monday, August 20, 2018

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: August 18, 2018

My time: 15:12.

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Mark Diehl constructed this puzzle, which contains every letter of the alphabet at least once.  It's a very satisfying grid with lots of interesting fill (AQUI, LAY SIEGE TO, MUD FACIAL, ACT OF LOVE, STAMP PADS ["ink holders"], CITY PLAZA, et alii).

Right off the bat at one across I was held up by "certain fish... or sailboats," which is SKIPJACKS.  There's skipjack tuna, which is in the family Scombridae, and skipjack shad, which is in the herring family, Clupeidae.  A skipjack boat, on the other hand, is a sailboat used on the Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging.

I didn't know Jon HAMM was in 2010's The Town.  He played an FBI agent.

"Makeshift fly swatter" is a good clue for SHOE.

I'm a Muppet fan from way back, but there are some tertiary characters I don't have on the tip of my tongue.  PEPE the King Prawn is one of them.  He was created for the later show, "Muppets Tonight."

The OCARINA is a primitive wind instrument known as a type of vessel flute --- that is, a flute with a vessel body and an extended mouthpiece.

For "hint of things to come," I confidently put *HARBINGER, but it's FORETASTE.

In the Bible, the Book of Samuel, ELI is a priest who assures Samuel's mother that she will bear a son, and goes on to help train Samuel.  He also has two wicked sons, whom he rebukes only lightly, for which his lineage is cursed.

We all know Jay LENO and his magical chin, but did we know he won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2014?  I didn't even know there was one.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus won this year!

Physicists use the Greek letters PSIS (Ψs) to denote wave function.  That is, a mathematical description of the quantum state of an isolated quantum system.  You're confused, I see.  Let me make it perfectly clear: The wave function is a complex-valued probability amplitude, and the probabilities for the possible results of measurements made on the system can be derived from it.

Not being a musical aficionado, I didn't know that the main female role in "Singin' in the Rain" is KATHY Selden, played by Debbie Reynolds.  Kathy is a showgirl who makes fun of the film star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), and he falls for her.  She dubs the singing voice for his co-star, Lina.

"In-pool fitness program" is AQUA ZUMBA!  Now that's just crazy.

I'm not 100% familiar with Mariah Carey's oeuvre, but apparently she had a #1 with "OH, SANTA" in 2010, from her second Christmas album, the amusingly titled Merry Christmas II You.

"Irked constantly" held be back quite a bit.  I read it as an adjective, as in someone who is irked constantly, but it's meant to be read as a verb, as in "irked [someone] constantly."  It's ATE AT.

I didn't know that the famous trees lining the National Mall in D.C. are ELMS.

I also had never heard of Operation Ali Baba, the airlifting of thousands of Jews to Israel in the 1950s, but it was pretty obvious that the airline involved had to be EL AL.  It is also called Operation Exra & Nehemia.

Derek Jeter's retired number is TWO.  Now that I know that, what do I do?

"My Kind of Town" lyricist Sammy CAHN appeared on June 24, 2018.

About a gigaton of clever clues this time around: "Hit with a charge" is TASE. "Story of past glories, maybe?" is ATTIC --- because it's the story of a house where maybe interesting items from the past are kept.  "Private leaders" is CORPORALS.  "Open investigation?" is DENTAL EXAM.  "Give an unexpected hand" is SLAP.  "Summer" is ADDER, ha ha.  "Exchanged some crosses" is BOXED.  "Top of Scotland" is TAM.

Woo!  This took quite a while.  I guess I MIST my chance to do well on this one!

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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"...