Saturday, November 24, 2018

Saturday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: November 24, 2018

My time: 20:53, not too bad considering.

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David Steinberg designed this themeless that has six grid-spanning Across answers.  It's not the finest Saturday puzzle ever.  It has some good points and some things to carp about.

I liked SWIPER, NO SWIPING!, THE CLAWS COME OUT ("things get ugly"), and HIGH MAINTENANCE ("demanding").

"Cry for attention, maybe" is a pretty vague clue for MEOW, but backed up by science!

Here's a new word for me: SHOJI, the lattice-framed paper screens used as room dividers in Japanese homes.  This clue helped me immediately associate the Japanese TATAMI for the later clue "straw mat."

For "capitol vehicle" I got stuck on it ending in cab, and that slowed me down. I even put in *METRO CAB for a bit, although that's not anything DC-related.  It turns out to be STATE CAR.  That makes much more sense.  Similarly, for "not just down," I got in my head that it might end in out but it's IN A HOLE.

"How some bonds are sold" is AT PAR.  This just means at the bond's face value.

Here's one of the bigger things to carp about.  "Suffers humiliation."  *EATS CROW, obviously, right?  Wrong.  It's EATS DIRT.  No!  No one says this.  Terrible clue.  If you need these letters as an answer, why not put the (more interesting, anyway) clue "suffers from geophagia, say"?  This bad cluing cost me a lot of time.

Did you know KAN is home to the largest grain elevator in the world?

"E-4 and E-5, but not E-3" is NCOS.  E-1 through E-3 are the Junior Enlisted Ranks, from private to specialist.  E-4 is corporal and E-5 is sergeant.

As I am very old and totally out of touch with the Musics of Today, I have never heard of JESSIE J or her song with Nicki Minaj and Arianda Grande, "Bang Bang."  Even though it reached the top ten in fourteen countries, got a Grammy nomination, and went six-times platinum.

Crossing this baffling clue is "specialized."  I couldn't figure out NICHE from this, having reluctantly guessed *NICER (as in a finer, nicer distinction --- weak, I know).

"Drink flavorer" stymied me for a while until I figured out it was ZEST.  In other drink clues, I kept thinking that "drink that competes with Monster" was something like jet fuel but since that's not actually a brand of anything, the answer is RED BULL.

I hate the blank clues, like "___ big" for YEA.

"Big name in shipping" is DHL (last seen on May 29).  Through a series of wrong crossed answers, I had *CEL, surprisingly also a valid answer.

A TARTE Tatin is a fruit-filled pastry that is flipped over onto a plate just before serving.  It's named after the hotel where it was served.

Actor AIDAN Quinn appeared on April 13.  Today we learn he is in the CBS TV show "Elementary."

"Standford rival" is CAL, as in University of California, as discussed on January 28.

I just recently heard of Jean-Baptiste-Camille COROT, in this puzzle, on November 11, as the painter of The Bridge at Narni.  Today he is clued as the painter of Ville d'Avray (which seems to be title shared by more than one work).

Clever clues: "It's not backed up" is IDLE SPECULATION.  "Ancestor of a cell" tries to fool you with hypothetical biology, but it's actually about technology: BEEPER.  "One way to lose your balance?" is ACCOUNTING ERROR.  "Digs in the snow?" is IGLOO; it didn't phase me for a second but I appreciate the pun.  "Trio of mummies" is EMS.  "10/" for OCT is pretty good.

PHEW, I finally got through that.  So, as I said, some fun parts some not so fun parts.  I SRTA liked it.  And now, I'm off.

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