Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: December 9, 2018

My time: 17:47, just one minute too slow for the record!


Ross Trudeau collected a series of cryptids from divers geographical areas in this one.  "What a Zoo" it is, at that.  The areas and the cryptids are both in the puzzle, linked by clue.

So, for example, one clue says "cryptid of the 91 Across," and is ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN.  91 Across is HIMALAYAS, of course.  The clue itself is tricky, though: "creation after the Indian and Eurasian plated collided."  Know your prehistorical geographical activity!

LOCH NESS MONSTER is a cryptid of the SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS, while THE KRAKEN is a cryptid of THE NORWEGIAN SEA ("it borders Iceland's eastern coast"). 

It's very admirable how these long answers are worked into the puzzle, but it's all pretty straightforward.  No trickery or jumbling.  But I was delighted to find an extremely apt capper in the center of the puzzle.  "J.K. Rowling's first screenplay" is also what this puzzle is all about: FANTASTIC BEASTS / AND / WHERE TO FIND THEM.  Sweet!

And now, the fill.  A lot of this fortuitously happened to be in my wheelhouse, so most of the trouble I had was with my own initial wrong answers.

A word that's new to me is RESECT, which means to perform a resection on.  Which means to surgically remove an organ or structure.

Another new word is NEROLI, an essential oil derived from the Seville orange, used in perfumery.

Barbie has a sister with strawberry blonde hair, I guess?  Maybe light brown? Her name is STACIE.  And Barbie has other sisters?  And her last name is Roberts?  There's a whole world out there.

For "when crepuscular animals are active" I put *DUSK but it's DAWN.  What a cheat!

Know your capitals!  The capital of Kazakhstan is ASTANA.

A cupboard with open shelves at the top is called a HUTCH.  I never knew that.

I speak a little German, but I guess I forgot that ECHT means "genuine, true, real."

ISLA Fisher is an actress known for her role in Wedding Crashers, but I know her as Rebel Alley in "Arrested Development."

SHALE OIL is oil obtained from bituminous shale through the process of pyrolysis.  But what's that?  Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere.

I have not heard of Massimo CARLOTTO, or his book The Goodbye Kiss.  Exciting fact: Carlotto was found guilty of murder and spent time in prison before being pardoned.

For "silent communication, for short" I put *ESP, ha ha!  I'm dumb.  It's ASL.

VASSAR is located in Poughkeepsie.  Hooray?

Speaking of locations, I had no idea that Swansea was in Wales.  It doesn't have a bunch of w's, y's, and l's in it!  Anyway, if you're from Swansea you're WELSH.

"Best seller subtitled The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English" is WOE IS I.  This was featured on September 11.  However, I forgot this, and put in *WOE AM I, because for the crossing "hobbles" I put *LAMES.  But it's LIMPS.  Ugh!

Another crossing of this answer was "2007 #1 Alicia Keys album," and I forgot that too: AS I AM.  This was shown on July 7.

URAL as a Risk territory appeared on December 13, 2017.

Rising star inventor ELISHA Otis last appeared on October 10.

St. ANNE, mother of the Virgin Mary, last appeared to the faithful on November 30, 2017.

NFL Hall of Famer Junior SEAU was last showcased on July 30.

TAOS Ski Valley was explored on September 21.

Clever clues: "Starbuck's order giver" is AHAB.  "Cabinet selection?" is FILE.  "'Happy Birthday' writer, maybe" is ICER.  'It's not your fault" is LET.  "Fast time" is LENT.  "Return letters?" is IRS.  "Person who's happy to go bust?" is NARC.  "Breather" is LUNG.

This was one of the fastest Sunday times in a while!  I'm proud.  I won't STU over a bad time tonight.

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