Thursday, July 7: Airport Security

“Ugh,” you groan as you search for your English-to-Crosswordese dictionary (does this exist? If so, my birthday is November 17). “Not another mention of ASPs (42A: Venomous viper) or the verb to EKE (64A: Scratch (out)). And if I had a dollar for every time the TSA was mentioned…”

Not to fear, disillusioned crossword-goers, today’s puzzle uses Crosswordese unexpectedly- at random CHECKPOINTS, one migh(T SA)y.

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Solving time: 41 minutes, over half an hour faster than my average Thursday time!

Theme: Four CHECKPOINTS (34A: Border stops) with the sneaky sneaky TSA lurking as a rebus. (Personally, I think a hidden rebus of NSA might have been more clever, but I’m not complaining.)

Crazily enough, today was the first rebus puzzle I had ever completed! Before I figured out the reveal, I spent the majority of my time trying to think of a 5-letter way to say “IT’S A BOY” (50D: Delivery room announcement). I came up with the robottish “It boy” before I had a lightbulb moment when “LIGHTSABERS” (21A: Jedi defenses) wasn’t fitting either.

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Nick Cage helps us out with 58A: “Really?!”

Head-scratchers: Or should I say head-latherers: SUDSES (43D: Lathers up), ostensibly the present active form of the verb “to suds,” feels like someone started writing an actual word and got shampoo in their eyes. Also, saying AMEBA (10D: Low life?) is an alternate spelling of amoeba is like saying “ijit” is a colloquial spelling of idiot in order to get a triple letter boost in Scrabble: just no. On an unrelated note, I apologize to all the participants of this past weekend’s Scrabble game.

Finally, the last time I checked, an “outside clearance event”(47D) is a yard sale- how exactly would a so-called TENT SALE work? Are there multiple tents, and are they for sale?

The strangest clue of the day happens to coincide with another of my superlatives, so I’ll mention it later.

Clue of the day: The somewhat baffling Miley Cyrus-ism in 49A- “Pink isn’t just a color, it’s an ATTITUDE!” Runners-up include TOTALER (39D: Summer), since it has nothing to do with the season, and money-laundering OVENS (31A: A lot of dough can go into them).

Latin of the day: 24A’s “Mollusks once known as lepus marinus” aka… SEA HARES. Okay, what? Sure, I know lepus, oris (m) means ‘hare’ and marinus ‘sea,’ but why would you name the animal (right, image) after the bunny (left, artistic interpretation)? And what happened to make these mollusks “once” known as such? So many questions, so little time. Also pictured on left: my first attempts for this clue (sea horse, seashell, and seaweed, respectively).

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SEA HARES, expectation vs. reality.

Today, more than ever, I was grateful for every science course I took in high school, not to mention the physics class I am TAing this summer! From the smallest of small- an ATOM (38A: Focus of quantum mechanics) and the protozoan AMEBA to biochem’s KETONE (60A: Camphor or fructose) to the glorious electricity & magnetism unit measurement of the OHM (31: Volt per ampere), I have never so tangibly grasped the real-world applications of science as today.

Tha(T’S A)ll for now, folks!                                                                                                                         -Maddie

BTW (33D: Incidentally, in a txt msg), congrats to fellow blogger Kenneth Shinozuka for reaching a 60-day crossword-solving streak. Onward and upward, my friend- a swimming sea hare for you!

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