Thursday, September 6, 2018

Thursday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: September 6, 2018

My time: 16:35.

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Jeff Chen used about 90% of his brain on this devious one, which is more clever than it appears.  Playing off the phrase TIP OF THE ICEBERG ("hidden trouble indicator"), he arranges seven Down answers that are real words, but appear to have nothing to do with their clues; however, if you put an imaginary letter at the top of the answer, it satisfies the clue.  These imaginary, unseen letters spell out iceberg, as in the TIP that is seen, while the rest of the puzzle, one then imagines, makes up the hidden 90% OF THE ICEBERG.

The themed answers are as follows.   "It's symbolized by a star and a crescent," reading as SLAM, but actually [i]SLAM.  "Entry fees" is [c]OVERCHARGES.  "Comes out" is [e]MERGES.  "Exposes" is [b]ARES.  "Like Confucianism or Taoism" is [e]ASTERN.  "Formal rejection" is [r]ENUNCIATION.  And finally, "put the pedal to the medal" is [g]UN IT.

See how those added, imaginary letters spell out iceberg in order?  Clever!

OSLO appears in the puzzle very often, but happily, seemingly with a variety of clues.  Here it's as the home of "The Scream."  The landscape in the picture is recognizable as the Kristiania Fjord seen from Ekeberg, with a broad view over the fjord, the town and the hills beyond.

"Dweller along the Don" is SLAV.  It is located in Russia and empties to the Sea of Azov (an answer on July 12).

I didn't know that a "closer" is a baseball term, designating a relief picther who gets the final outs.  Success for a closer is thus a SAVE.  Wiki says "a closer's effectiveness has traditionally been measured by the save, an official Major League Baseball statistic since 1969."  Okay then.  I don't pretend to understand the sabermetrics.  I took it to mean that someone who ended (closed) a game did it by catching a ball (saving it, I guess).

I have never heard of "popular online comedy duo" RHETT and Link.  They sound kind of stupid.

The Mosque of OMAR is a mosque built in 1193, located across from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Did you know March Madness victors got to keep the NETS?  Me neither.  The winning team cuts the nets off the hoop.  The practice started in 1947.

I'm a huge "Dr. Strangelove" fan but had forgotten that Major T.J. "King" KONG was the name of Slim Pickens' unforgettable character,

I didn't know that ESPERANTO means literally "a hopeful person" but it's pretty easy to figure out when you know your romance cognates.

Never heard of the Book of Shadows, but I knew it had to be something occult.  To answer who would be reading it, I put *WIZARDS and then *WITCHES and finally saw it was WICCANS.

For "Alexander the Great, to Aristotle" I put *PUPIL but it's TUTEE.

"Kind of operation in number theory, for short" is MOD.  Modular arithmetic is when you compute with remainders, which can be visualized by turns around a numbered clock face.  For example, 3 mod 12 is 3 (because it increments three times), but 16 mod 12 is 4 because it completes one turn and then increments four more times for the remainder.

Stylishness is SASS?  Huh?  Why?  I don't get it.

The snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark were ASPS, which I guess we should know because after Indy says "Why did it have to be snakes?" Sallah replies, "Asps…very dangerous."

LAPIN is French for rabbit, and apparently it's also a name for rabbit fur.

Did you know October 13 is No BRA Day?  Me neither.

It was suggested that CHER is the "Goddess of Pop" on August 8.

"B+, e.g." was ION on August 28, so I put the same for "F-, e.g." pretty quickly.

Clever clue: "Idle on the set" is ERIC.  "Exchange of swear words?" is I DOS.  I like the clue "it may involve dips, in two different senses" for SALSA.  "It's between an A and a B" is NINETY.  "Puzzle in which people take turns solving" is MAZE.  For "leader of the land down under?" I put *SANTA because I guess I was stupidly thinking he lived at the South Pole?? but it's obviously his anagram brother, SATAN.  "Out" is a good vague clue for ALIBI.  Likewise, "nips" is good for EDGES --- they both mean "to beat someone in a game slightly."

Man, that's a lot to write.  This puzzle was more than SORTA difficult.  For some of this stuff, I had NO IDEA!

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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"...