Thursday June 10, 2021 Michael Paleos


Twilight Zones

Today's puzzle leads us into other dimensions of reality.  Our captain for this journey will be Michael Paleos, an LA Times veteran who last published here on Thursday March 12th 2020.  He has also been published at least twice by the NY Times.  This is what Will Shortz had to say about him for his Sunday puzzle debut on October 27, 2019:

Michael Paleos, of Oyster Bay, N.Y., is chief of staff at a major investment bank. He started solving crosswords at a young age, but only got hooked on them after discovering the archive of puzzles in the New York Times app. "After doing enough of them, I started wondering what it would take to make one, and down the rabbit hole I went." [my emphasis]

In this puzzle Michael leads us to close encounters with holes you don't go down, but go through, and come out the another side!

I'll start by highlighting a key piece of information by showing a blank grid:

You will notice that there are what appear to be four circles.  If your publisher didn't include these, then the deep dive I'm about to take is not going to make a lot of sense.  I'm not sure I'm going to make sense anyway, as this is the most convoluted theme I've had to explain ...

First I made the mistake of assuming that the circles actually were circles, but that's not what they really are.  Next I have to admit that this was the first puzzle that I've blogged that I DNF.  I expected that the circles contained letters that could somehow be joined together to reveal the theme.  And after it was clear to me that I had reached a dead end, I had to resort to reading the clue/answer file bloggers receive that contains all the answers.  Normally I only read this file after solving the puzzle just to verify my solution. 

Okay, so here are the themers, in which some of the letters appear to abruptly end or begin out of nowhere. These are indicated by white letters CIRCLED IN RED  in the text that follows.*  Answers with these circles are connected to other answers on the grid in temporal order, i.e. the order in which they will occur, or have occurred in historical time:

In the not too distant future:

7A 22-Across captain: KIRK.  Obviously a clue to the unfinished answer at 22A ...
22A Classic sci-fi name: STARSHIP  🅔  Where is this taking us?  To 56A via a 38A?
56A -: 🅝TERPRISE  The clue "-" indicates that this answer continues from a previous clue, but there is no indication of which one.
The preceding three clues are all related to the voyages of the STARSHIP 🅔🅝TERPRISE which will begin when she is commissioned in 2245, in the EARTH's near future.  She will first be captained by Robert April, then by Christopher Pike, and finally will be turned over to James Tiberius KIRK.

And "A long long, time ago in a galaxy far, far away​...."

71A. 18-Across captain: SOLO.  Obviously a clue to the unfinished answer at 18A ...
18A Classic sci-fi name: MILLENN🅘  Where is this taking us? To 62A  via a 38A?
62A. -: 🅤M FALCON.   The clue "-" again indicates that this answer continues from a previous clue, but there is no indication of which one.
The preceding three clues are related to the voyages of the MILLENN🅘🅤M FALCON,  captained a long, long time ago by that irascible STAR WARS rogue HANS SOLO and his wookie companion CHEWBACCA

And the reveal, dead center in our puzzle universe, tells us the real meaning for the "circles"

38A. Theoretical shortcuts ... or what the four circles in this puzzle represent: WORM HOLES

Are these WORM HOLES simply direct shortcuts from two parts of the puzzle to two others, or are they more than that, intended as actual shortcuts thru interstellar space and time?  The first possibility is pretty straightforward.  An exploration of the latter possibility would require a deep dive down the rabbit hole of interstellar physics that is beyond the space and time of this review.

* The circled red letters are unavoidably shifted up a bit due to the Unicode font I had to use to generate them.

The final grid might help clear up any confusion you might have, if that's possible!

Now let's get down to EARTH:

1. "The Devil Wears Prada" co-star: STREEP.  I have not seen this movie, but apparently Meryl presents another powerful performance as one of the greatest actresses of our time.  My indelible memory of STREEP was her incredible portrayal of Zofia Zawistowski in the 1982 film Sophie's Choice, based on the novel by William Styron.  Here are two reviews of this 1982 film -  The first was written by the late Roger Ebert, when the film was first released.  The second is from the (SPOILER ALERT) Wikipedia.  If you haven't seen this film and plan to, read Ebert's review first, see the movie, then read the Wiki review.

11. Some notebooks: PCS.

14. Pirouettes: TWIRLS.

15. Be in store: LIE AHEAD.

17. Not in a good way: POORLY.

19. Zeno's followers: STOICS.  Zeno was also known for his formulation of a series of PARADOXES, that is apparently self-contradictory propositions.  I recall being taught about the DICHOTOMY PARADOXin HS Math: "suppose someone wishes to walk to the end of a path. Before she can get there, she must get halfway there. Before she can get halfway there, she must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, she must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on", the implication being that she'll never get there. 

Our Math teacher Mr. Fritz refuted it thusly: "Suppose we put all of the girls on one side of the room and all of the boys on the other.  Each side starts by walking a 1/2 of the way to the middle, and then 1/4, then 1/8th, and so on.  They may never get to the middle, but pretty soon they'd be close enough for all practical purposes."

21. Have a little lamb, say: YEAN.  My favorite clue.  I've heard of calving (something ELSIE might do - see 44A below), but I didn't know there was a verb specifically for giving birth to a lamb.

25. Andean grazer: LLAMA.  I wonder if they give birth by LLAMINATION?

28. Gumshoe: TEC.

29. Keep in inventory: STOCK.

31. Vote of dissent: NAY.

32. "The Jungle" author Sinclair: UPTONSinclair was born right here in Baltimorein 1878, the son of an alcoholic father and a teetotaling Episcopalian mother.  At the time he wrote The Jungle (awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in  1943) he was best known for his muck-raking novels and his socialist leanings, but we owe the beginnings of the Food and Drug Administrationto him.

35. Popular Halloween costume: SKELETON.

41. Was superficially polite: MADE NICE.

44. Commercial mascot with an honorary Doctor of Bovinity degree: ELSIEELSIE was and still is  the original spokes COW for Borden's line of dairy products.  And she really does have a "degree" in BOVINITY.

48. Function: USE.

49. It's often eaten with a fork and spoon: PASTA.  Didn't know you needed a spoon.  Given the number and shapes of different pasta varieties I suppose you might need a spoon for some, e.g DITALINI (not sure what you'd do with the fork though):
Ditalini Pasta

52. 292.5 deg., on a compass: WNW.

53. Blueprint info: SPECS.  I used to have to worry about those kind of SPECS.  Now that my license is up for renewal I might have to worry about these:
59. Entreaty: PLEA.

61. Boatload, say: AMOUNT.

66. Scrabble coups: BINGOS.  Never heard this term, which gets you 50 extra points for using all of your letters.

Scrabble is like a "moveable crossword puzzle" that you make up as you go along.  I used to play it a lot with my with my youngest sister before I left for college.  I was always looking for clever words but she played for blood, consistently scoring higher than me.  Here's a good Scrabble resource with lots of words for getting BINGOS, including would you believe it: BOVINITY?

68. Spice that gives yellow curry its color: TURMERIC.  Poor man's saffron.  This looks like a good recipe for what DW and I used to call "Dal and potato stew".  The website says it all: "yummy!".

69. Balinese, e.g.: ASIANS.  The aspect of Balinese culture that I'm most familiar with is their distinctive music: Gamelan, also spelled gamelang or gamelin, is the indigenous orchestra type of the islands of Java and Bali, in Indonesia, consisting largely of several varieties of gongs and various sets of tuned metal instruments that are struck with mallets.

70. Eponymous ice cream maker: EDY.  Add a D and you've got EDDY and a clecho to 14A.

72. One exchanging dollars for quarters?: RENTER.  Clever misdirection.  Hands up if you thought this was for playing the slots.

1. Big racing sponsor: STP.

2. Texas dance: TWO STEP.

3. Cautionary reading?: RIOT ACT.  No comment.

4. "404 Not Found," e.g.: ERROR.  Generated by HTTP when it cannot locate the specified URL you are trying to reach on the Internet.

5. New York Harbor's __ Island: ELLIS.  Used as a gateway to the US for immigrants. Here is their story.

6. Inspires, with "up": PSYCHS.

7. Dutch carrier: KLMKLM Royal Dutch Airlines (in Dutch Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) N.V., is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands.

8. Sundial marking: III.  Not XII or VII.

9. Depend: RELY.

10. Superman, on Krypton: KALEL.  The first of the super heroes, an extensive mythology has arisen about Superman: his past, his upbringing, and his raison d'être.  Superman still "fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American Way."
11. Baseball championship emblem: PENNANT.

12. Preserve, in a way: CAN.  A great way to preserve garden vegetables.  We still CAN tomatoes, salsa verde (tomatillos), and pickles.  The Ball Blue Book is the authoritative source on canning :

13. '80s missile prog.: SDI.  Often referred to as "Star Wars", a riff on the movie series and a clecho to 3 of our themers.  A lot of missiles were loosed in the series.

16. Get better: HEAL.

20. Obedience school command: SIT.  Obedience training is really all about training pet OWNERS,  but it didn't SIT too well with us.  DW took both our dogs to obedience training.  Our Black Lab, NEPTUNE, didn't pass.  Our Yellow Lab, JUPITER, was the "most improved" and excelled while attending the class, but forgot it all as soon as he got back home.  They are both romping in DOG HEAVEN now!.

22. R-V man's name?: STU.  Clever clue, with the answer embedded in the alphabet range.

23. Most elegant: POSHEST

24. Marc of fashion: ECKOHere's his story.
26. Red Guard leader: MAO.  Chairman MAO ZEDONG was the founder of the Chinese communist party and a distant relativeof our very own Chairman MOEMAO also features as a character in the opera Nixon in China by composer John Adams.  The opera presents the events surrounding Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972.  Here is an outtake from one of the scenes in opera called The Chairman Dances, a foxtrot for orchestra that is performed much more frequently than the opera.  Performance by Cole Conservatory Symphony Orchestra at CSU Long Beach, Johannes Müller-Stosch, Music Director:

27. Objectivist Rand: AYNHere is the Wikipedia's explanation of Objectivism. I agree with some of what Rand espouses, particularly the existence of an objective reality that we can contact directly with our senses and use to guide our behavior.  [BEGIN RANT] But I'm disturbed by the parts that seem to derive from Nietzsche's concept of the Übermensch or "Superman", the heroic figures that Rand places at the centers of her novels.  The milieu of Superman is a mythological world (10D) and my perception of the real world is that, while it has many heroic figures, those figures are ultimately dependent on the vast interwoven network of all humanity to accomplish what they will.  To the extent that they exploit this humanity for their own purposes I think they are not only wrong, but ultimately foolish.  [END OF RANT]

30. Kenan's one-time comedy partner: KEL.  I have not seen Kenan and Kel, an American sitcom created by Kim Bass. A kid's show, it originally aired on the Nickelodeon network for four seasons, from August 17, 1996, to July 15, 2000. Set in Chicago, Illinois, the series follows Kenan Rockmore (Kenan Thompson) and best friend Kel Kimble (Kel Mitchell), who go on a number of misadventures. 

33. Run a tab, say: OWE.

34. Fiction opening?: NON.

36. Big name in denim: LEE.

37. Au pair's subj.: ESL. An Au Pair is defined as a young person (between the ages of 18-30), who goes abroad to live with a native family and learn (or perfect) a language in exchange for childcare.   As distinct from a Nanny who provides child care for a salary.

39. Criticize: RIP.

40. Big name in shoes: MCAN.

41. Lambda followers: MUS.

42. Nile menace: ASPAccording to Plutarch, Cleopatra tested various deadly poisons on condemned people and concluded that the bite of the asp (from aspis—Egyptian cobra, not European asp) was the least terrible way to die; the venom brought sleepiness and heaviness without spasms of pain.  Apparently she was doing contingency planning.  She chose this method to commit suicide to avoid the humiliation of being paraded as a prisoner in a Roman triumph celebrating the military victories of Octavian, who would become Rome's first emperor in 27 BC and be known as Augustus. 

43. Prepare, as tempura: DEEP FRYA Japanese dish, consisting of thin slices or strips of vegetables or seafood that are dipped in the batter, then briefly deep-fried in hot oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil are most common; however, tempura was traditionally cooked using sesame oil.  Vegetarian Indian cooking has a similar dish called pakoras, deep fried vegetables or paneer (an Indian cheese) using peanut oil.  I think both of these dishes are best suited for serving at restaurants, as they use a lot of oil.

45. Attempt to hit: SWING AT.  Sums up my career in little league baseball.

46. Permanently: IN STONE.  Not necessarily.  This statue of the Pieta by sculptor Michelangelo, which resides in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome was severely damaged by a mentally ill vandal named Laszlo Toth in 1972.  It has since been restored, but is now behind protective glass:

47. Sheep that sounds like a pronoun: EWE. And they YEAN little sheep!

50. London hot spot?: TEA.  "A spot of tea anyone?"  Alternately, "Would you like a cuppa'?"

51. Hand-to-hand combat maneuver: ARM BAR.  I hope you never need this ...

54. Half-shell serving: CLAM.  À la Clams Casino.

55. Monica of tennis: SELESMONICA SELES is a retired professional tennis player, who represented Yugoslavia and the United States. She was born and raised in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) to an ethnic Hungarian family. She became a naturalized American citizen in 1994 and also received Hungarian citizenship in June 2007. A former world no. 1, she won nine Grand Slam singles titles, eight of them as a teenager while representing Yugoslavia, and the final one while representing the United States.

57. Grace under fire: POISE.  Not the "fire" of war, which takes fearlessness.  Rather the stresses of everyday life.  Has anyone seen this series?

58. Quarrel: RUN IN.

60. Start to bat?: ACRO.

62. Beehive State athlete: UTEThe UTES are the University of Utah Football Team, named for the Ute Indian tribe.  In case anyone is wondering: On Mar 4, 2020, the University of Utah and the Ute Indian Tribe announced a renewal of their agreement, or “memorandum of understanding,” to use the nameUtes” as part of the athletics program for the next five years.

The Ute are the indigenous people of the Ute tribe and culture among the indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. They have lived in the regions of present-day Utah and Colorado in the Southwestern United States for many centuries. The state of Utah is named after the Ute tribe.

Utah's nickname is the Beehive State, due to its original title of “State of Deseret.” Deseret, meaning honeybee in the Book of Mormon. ... Also tying in with Utah's roots, the beehive is a symbol of industry, which is the state motto.  This is the state seal:
63. Word with wrestling or pie: MUD.

64. Artist's medium: OIL.

65. Sgt., for one: NCO.

67. Abbr. on a pre-1991 map: SSR.  If you want to see what the world was like circa 1935, I'd recommend a visit to the 3D Mapparium at the Christian Science Museum in Boston, where you can walk inside a giant glass globe of the world:


A WORM HOLE back to a different time on EARTH.



And kudos to DW for proof reading and for the dog obedience story!