Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sunday's New York Times crossword puzzle solved: July 1, 2018

My time: 26:38.

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Sam Trabucco mapped out this puzzle, which is about "Driving Around."  That preposition turns out to have a double meaning, as in driving around something else, not just driving about aimlessly.  You can't make sense of it unless you get "it's left on a highway," which is the PASSING LANE.

This indicates that several themed Across answers must be read not linearly, but with a zig over to the top, past the vehicle name found in the original answer.  For example!  "Trying to show no sign of life" reads a PLAYING CARD.  But if you pass the car (reading across the top, which is the left as you read forward), you get PLAYING [DEA]D.  The dea comes from the answer above, NOT A BIG DEAL.

"Began a PC session" reads as LOG CABIN, but if you pass the cab on the left, it's LOG[GED] IN.  The ged part of the answer comes from the cleverly clued STAGE DOOR ("show out?").

"Big character?" is a joke and a theme.  The answer reads as BLOCKBUSTER, but it's really BLOCK [LET]TER.

Last example: "bottle for a beachgoer" reads as STRUCK OIL, but if you pass the truck on the left, you put the answer together: S[UNTAN] OIL.  Untan comes from UNTANGLE, above.

Mostly what took up my time and mental power in this puzzle was the theme.  On to the fill!

Guido RENI was a 17th century Baroque painter.  Some of his best known works are Massacre of the Innocents and Crucifixion of St. Peter.

Not being a Potterhead, I didn't know Lily Potter's maiden name.  It's EVANS.  Why is her middle initial J?

"Relating to gaps" frustrated me.  I instantly knew it was related to the word lacuna, but I couldn't get the form right.  *LACUNIC?  *LACUNAE?  It's LACUNAR.  That wouldn't have been in my top five guesses.

Sam ERVIN was a Democratic senator from North Carolina.  An interesting figure, he championed Jim Crow and segregation laws, and then suddenly switched to being a defender of civil rights.  He also worked to investigate and bring down both Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon.

Does GET LIT really mean "go on a drinking spree"?

A tool for undoing stitches is called a SEAM RIPPER.

Senectitude means OLD AGE.

"Nerd's epithet for the president?" is ANAGRAM.  That is, thepresident is an ANAGRAM for nerdsepithet and vice-versa.

I have never heard the phrase RUN GOOD to mean have a streak of favorable luck.  How ya running?!

Spanish muralist José Maria Sert appeared on April 5.  So "certain Spanish murals" are SERTS.

Did you know that TV drama "THIS Is Us" airs on NBC-TV?  Me neither.

I was told there would be no geography: The capital of Okinawa is NAHA.  It is very southerly, on an archipelago.

The physical exercise HATHA yoga appeared on November 26, 2017.

ANA Navarro appeared on December 17, 2017.

Here's 'Vette option T-TOP again!

Clever clues: "Fair" is EXPO.  "Green surroundings?" is TRAPS.  "Had a leading role?" is USHERED.  "It may bring a tear to one's eye" is DUCT.  "Match makers?" is SETS.

HEY, this was a SRSLY interesting puzzle!  I enjoyed the theme, which baffled me for quite some time.  It was a TIGHT RACE against time, but then there was a terrific a-ha moment when it all clicked.

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