Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: September 22, 2018

My time: 11:34, not too shabby.

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Sam Trabucco constructed this themeless, which features two grid-spanning Across answers and some very clever cluing.  The best is probably "no light amount of work," or HERCULEAN EFFORT.  Other bits of good modern fill are FOOD PORN, CHARLIE ROSE, and THE TIME WARP (the Rocky Horror song).

"Gets hitched" made me think it was a joke, like meaning "gets tied to," but it's about marriage, albeit phrased a way I didn't expect: SAYS I DO.

For a brief while, I had *SYRUP for "shot contents," until I realized that was pretty unlikely even in the world of bartending.  It's SERUM.

The SACK DRESS is a loose-fitting garment that originally became popular in the 1950s.

Here's the quintessential useless clue: "childhood home of Grant Wood and Elijah Wood."  This is not common knowledge, nor is it easily guessed.  It's just a very uninteresting historical footnote to CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa.  Grant Wood was born in Anamosa, Iowa and moved there at the age of 10.  Elijah Wood was born there.

PERU is a crossword constant.  Today it's clued as "home of the 11,000-foot-deep Cotahuasi Canyon."  It's the deepest canyon in the world, maybe!

The first episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE was titled "Where is Everybody?"  Airing in 1959, it depicts an Air Force astronaut in training who finds himself in a ghostly town, still running normally but otherwise totally deserted of any other people.

I somehow recalled the name of actress TERI Polo, who played the fiancée and later wife of Ben Stiller in the Fockers film series.

"River from the Appalachians" is the PEE DEE, a river running through the Carolinas and emptying into Winyah Bay.

Also in geography, IOLA is a small city in southeast Kansas.  It is not that remarkable.  Clued here as "SW of Kansas City," for what that's worth.

I know the word parse having to do with grammar, but I didn't know a PARSER was a type of computer program that analyzes input.

"ZOEY 101" is an old Nickelodeon show about the first girl to attend a private boarding school.  Never heard of it.

"Elektra" is a one-act opera by Richard STRAUSS which premiered in 1909.  It adapts the original myth by removing some of the background information, rendering Elektra's obsession with revenge on her mother Klytaemnestra more evil and unhinged.

TIM O'Hara is the name of the character played by Bill Bixby, host to his "uncle" the Martian on "My Favorite Martian."  The character was played by Jeff Daniels in the 1999 movie.

Renaissance painter Guido RENI appeared on July 1.

Wine aperitif KIR appeared on January 5.

Author Jon AGEE was showcased on October 5, 2017.  Today he's cited as the author of the work Smart Feller, Fart Smeller and Other Spoonerisms.

"Big Brother" host Julie CHEN appeared on December 16, 2017.

Clever clues: "Eats before dinner?" is not meant to be read as a verb-predicate, but a noun followed by a descriptor: APPETIZER is the pre-prandial eats.  "Dramatic opening" is ACT I.  "Go down or come up" is OCCUR.  "Way to get around writer's block?" is PRESS PASS --- now that's a good joke.  "They usually revolve around steps" is AA MEETINGS.  "Crib users" is CHEATERS.

Well, I CONCEDE --- this was a clever, fun puzzle.  But I did PRETTY well, especially compared to earlier this week.

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Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: August 2, 2020

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