Hello Lovers, Hello Dear Readers. We're a married woman now. Married unit. Buckle up!
Longtime Dear Readers know: we've been busy. Getting married.
Marriage is going awesome, by the way. The pre‑marital counseling we did this summer has made a big difference. Better conflicts, more productive conflicts. Snags that would have turned into Big Things instead stay what they are, small snags, or fade to nothing at all. Lots of “you're right [full stop].”
Whoof. That one. Saying “you're right.” Took 33 years to learn that one.
Also, and we promise these Personal Highlights will stop soon and it'll be straightforward Puzzle Recap, unbridled Word Nerd, but it was our birthday the other day and we received a very nice present indeed from Colleen and Notorious Marcel's roommate Yorgos. He expressed disbelief that we had turned 33, and we said [improvising], just kidding, we're 29. Yorgos was relieved. “Because you don't look 33. You don't look 29!” Then Yorgos proceeded to be very stressed out as we explained, woops no, no no, actually we really are 33. He wasn't convinced until we gave the years of our birth, high school graduation, and college graduation. Yorgos paused. “Ok, that checks out.”
Like we said. Such a very nice present :)
The Theme!Foursomes. Seena thisa one before. Four-way rotational symmetry, so you can't really enter anything until you get the cross‑bracing twelvers. We always end up making Daring Guesses and penciling in drafts long before the twelves are in place. We are not a patient woman.
- 1A) Check for pesky critters (8)
CRITTERS * anagram = RESTRICT
- 15A) Curious bleating coming from concrete (8)
BLEATING * anagram = TANGIBLE
- 32A) Lose head of steers in woods (4)
Lose head of (Steers = HELMS) = ELMS
- 26D) Season when a hotel becomes hot? (4)
hotel becomes hot = no “el” = NOEL
- 31A) I got to lay off Tchaikovsky's father (4)
I + (LAY off = LYA) = ILYA
- 11A) Crafted leather form a Southern state (7)
LEATHER * anagram = TARHEEL
- 12A) I regret getting a business degree, leaving a stain (6)
I (regret = RUE ) getting a ((business degree = MBA) leaving a = MB) = IMBRUE
- 13D) Second gone, twelve's pickings can be slim (6)
(Second gone TWELVES = TELVES) * anagram = SVELTE
Aright here we go with two of the twelvers. Linch and pin to entering fill. These both count as highlights, the other two are in Tacky.
- 14A) Has a wrong view of the Church of England—outside it's wildly impressive (12)
((Church of England = CE) + IMPRESSIVE) * anagram = MISPERCEIVES
- 25A) Throw dirt on the embassy? It gives one pause (12)
(Throw dirt = INTER) + (embassy = MISSION) = INTERMISSION
- 6D) Trapped, needing time? Uprising does (5)
(time = T) + (uprising (DOES = DEER) = REED) = TREED
- 28A) A mug shot for a position in South Pacific (4)
A MUG * anagram = GUAM
- 27D) Porgy and Bess's finale gets trophy (4)
(Bess's finale = S) gets (trophy = CUP) = SCUP
- Rustic Uber taxis (4)
UBER * anagram = RUBE
The last set of eights were exquisite:
- 5D) Caduceus designed to be assembled locally (8)
CADUCEUS * anagram = CAUCUSED
- 19A) Goodwill gets work of muralist (8)
MURALIST * anagram = ALTRUISM
- 17D) Sweet letters stir a misunderstanding somewhat (8)
sTIR A MISUnderstanding = TIRAMISU
- 21A) It comes after one teardrop, sadly (8)
TEARDROP * anagram = PREDATOR
- 33A) Spanish leaders—each gets official after I empty the sink (4,4)
(Spanish leaders = SP) each gets (official = UMP) = SUMP PUMP
- 9D) Special terms for the writer: “Wills Covering Death” (9)
(writer Wills = GARRY) covering (Death = LOSS) = GLOSSARY
Garry Wills (born May 22, 1934) is a prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, journalist, and historian, specializing in American history, politics, and religion, especially the history of the Catholic Church.
- 7A) Viet follower follower against government leader (4)
(against = CON) + (government leader = G) = CONG
Too mucha gimme gimme.
- 28D) Something between springs that adds energy to sleep (4)
adds (energy = E) to (sleep = NAP) = NEAP
- Newt (not Gingrich) enters for fear that I'm least conservative (7)
(Newt = EFT) enters (for fear = LEST) = LEFTEST
- 10A) Contributor to blessed existence (4)
blESSEd = ESSE
- 2D) Spottings produced by palsies (7)
PALSIES * anagram = LAPISES
- 29A) Find some wool itching—that's nutty! (6)
wooL ITCHIng = LITCHI
- 23D) Heir to the throne leaves church in a French town (5)
(church = CH) + (French town = ARLES) = CHARLES
- 7D) Big post with a hundred locks and staffs up on it (12)
(hundred = C) + (locks = HAIR) + (staffs = MAN) + (up on it = HIP) = CHAIRMANSHIP
- Humors people taking time to be seen in paintings (12)
(people = MEN) taking (time = T) seen in (paintings = TEMPERAS) = TEMPERAMENTS
Up in Vermont for our wedding, we read The Martian, which was a fun light read. But toward the end the [white, male] lead character is like, “wow, a whole planet was rooting for me, put their resources together to try to save me, people are awesome!” Like: he's grateful. But he's not surprised.
And wouldn't it have been interesting to explore the experience of someone who maybe feels the world doesn't value his or her life. People of color. Queers. Women. People with disabilities. People who are told every day that they're defective, not as valuable. What would happen if that person were alone on Mars? What would that person feel when Earth rallied to save him or her?