Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 10, 2018

My time: 18:32.

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Will Nediger came up with this themeless for Saturday.  It's an okay puzzle, nothing special.  It leans more toward the stodgy and classic than the novel in its fill: ROMAN EMPIRE, OPERETTAS, ZAPATISTA, even TURNERESQUE ("like landscape paintings that focus more on color and lighting than fine detail" --- there's gotta be a better way to clue that).

This clue baffled me: "Smetana composition inspired by a river."  Smetana?  That's Bedřich Smetana to you, sir.  He's a Czech composer who has been called the father of Czech music.  He is best known for his opera "The Bartered Bride" and for the symphonic cycle "Má vlast" ("My Homeland"), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer's native country.  THE MOLDAU is a movement in "Má vlast."  That is the German name for Vltava, the longest river in Czechia.

I disagree that a HOT DATE is a "chemistry test."  A first date might be called a test of chemistry.  When you say "a hot date," you're usually referring to a more sure thing, I think.

"Creature that can walk on lava?"  Is a NENE?  Well, they walk on lava rocks.  Not hot lava.  It's a cheat of a clue, in that really anything that walks can walk on lava rocks.  The nene's feet are adapted for it; they have less webbing that allows them to walk across rough rocks in search of their favorite foods, like red ‘ohelo berries.  Still, it's a lame clue.

I didn't know Harry REID was once an amateur boxer.

Also, I didn't know that name EDNA means... pleasure?  Apparently from the Hebrew for delight, related to the Arabic word for luxury.

We all know what a SEDER is, but I had forgotten about the Four Questions.  A SEDER dinner includes the telling of the Exodus from Egypt.  The Four Questions are: "Why is this night different from all other nights?  On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzoh, and on this night only matzoh.  On all other nights we eat all vegetables, and on this night only bitter herbs.  On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once, and on this night we dip twice.  On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline."  That's... one question, isn't it?  With four... answers?

The Carolina Panthers mascot is named SIR PURR.  It's so cutesy!  "League leading average of 451 hugs per appearance."

In Japanese restaurants, GYOZA are a kind of dumpling, consisting of wonton wrappers stuffed with pork and cabbage.

"Sierra and others" is GMCS, as I learned on August 8.

Clever clues: "Pole stars?" is STRIPPERS. "Gambler's spot" is PIP.  "What sharks takes interest in" is USURY.  "Pressure group?" is PEERS.  "10-12 on a Little League team, maybe" is AGE RANGE --- I couldn't get shake the idea of a game score.  "Fancy restaurant topping?" is TOQUE.

Like I say, this puzzle wasn't OFFAL, but I also wasn't wowed by it.  It just felt a little stodgy.

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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"...