Saturday, September 1, 2018

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: September 1, 2018

My time: 12:08, great for a Saturday.

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Randolph Ross designed this elegant, minimally-black-squared Saturday.  There's some admirable fill in here, like IT'S A ZOO ("frazzled communter's comment"), CONAN O'BRIEN, TIGRIS RIVER ("bisector of the Fertile Crescent"), the awful neologism NOTHINGBURGER ("overhyped event, in slang" --- the term's been around since the '50s, I learned to my surprise), and CONTORTIONIST ("one who gets bent out of shape"), among others.

I also like "how someone may be interrupted" for MID-SENTENCE.

The smallest country in mainland Africa is The GAMBIA (the puzzle leaves off the definite article, which is in fact part of its official name, tsk tsk).  It is only 4,120 square miles.  Algeria has 919,600.  The US has 3.7 million square miles.

For "country club figure" I put *DEB but it's PRO.

I am not up on all the newfangled diets.  A ketogenic diet encourages the intake of FATS, to replace a dearth of carbs.  It is named for the metabolic process known as ketosis, in which your body burns fat for energy instead of carbs.

Soccer great PELE is known as "the Black Pearl," as well as "King Pele."

"Road Runners' race classification" isn't about birds; it's TEN MILE.  There are several local groups of runners calling themselves Road Runners who typically run that distance.

For "money in the Bible" I initially put *SHEKELS but also knew TALENTS for the backup when that turned out wrong.

Historical figure I am not familiar with: Henry L. STIMSON, Secretary of War to Taft, Roosevelt and Truman.  A looming fiure in US foreign policy, he helped formulate military strategy, and oversaw the Manhattan Project. He supported the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  During and after the war, Stimson strongly opposed the Morgenthau Plan, which would have de-industrialized and partitioned Germany into several smaller states. He also insisted on judicial proceedings against Nazi war criminals, leading to the Nuremberg trials.

I was never an Ozhead, as fans of the L. Frank Baum series are called, so I didn't remember the character of Miss Almira GULCH, the film character who threatens to have Toto put to sleep for biting her.

I have never heard of Hunter College, a school that is part of City University of New York, or CUNY, the largest urban university system in the US.

We all remember Janet Reno, but history has drawn a veil over her predecessor, William BARR.  An appointee of H.W. Bush, Barr was known as a strong defender of Presidential power and wrote advisory opinions justifying the U.S. invasion of Panama and arrest of Manuel Noriega, and a controversial opinion that the F.B.I. could enter onto foreign soil without the consent of the host government to apprehend fugitives.

SAMBAS clued as "lively dances in 2/4 time" appeared on November 11, 2017.

A shedload of clues worth of the clever classification today: "Had a fit?" is TRIED ON. "Japanese stock holder" is MISO --- very clever.  "Force of nature?" is CENTRIPETAL --- my old high school physics teacher Mr. Scott would be proud.  "Ones on Telemundo" is UNOS.  "Luxurious Italian house" isn't *VILLA but PRADA.  "Abbr. for those who don't like parties" is IND.   "What's left" is a rather laconic clue for ESTATE.

This was a refreshing, fun puzzle with lots of terrific modern fill and challenging clues.  This puzzle shows that Saturday NEED NOT be a slog.  CAN IT BE both difficult and fun?  Randolph Ross made it so.

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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"...