Solution to Evan Birnholz’s July 17 crossword, “Period Pieces”

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Here are a few news items before discussing today’s crossword, both puzzle-related and personal:

1. The July 24 crossword is going to be an old one from The Post archives. I needed a break from work — and the old puzzle will partly explain why — but new puzzles will return on July 31.

2. The puzzle constructor Jeremiah Farrell died on July 4. I did not know him, but if you’ve been solving puzzles for a long time, you may remember that he authored perhaps the most famous crossword ever written: The 1996 election day puzzle in the New York Times. You can read more about that puzzle here.

3. I suffered the loss of a friend just the other day, myself. The brilliant conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey died on July 12. He conducted my choir, the Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia, on seven separate occasions at the annual Glorious Sounds of Christmas concert at the Kimmel Center since 2012. I had gotten to know him over the past decade; he was as warm and kind and funny as he was talented as a musician. I wrote about my memories of Bramwell on this thread.

4. Finally, in happier news, the crossword tournament Lollapuzzoola is now open for registration. It will take place on a Saturday in August; more specifically, on Saturday, Aug. 27 in New York City. They’re holding it as both an in-person event and as a virtual event for those who can’t make it. I’m hoping to be there in person, but I look forward to the puzzles either way.

Seven phrases feature increasing units of time at their edges, described by the revealer TIME LIMITS at 126A: [Fixed periods for completing tasks … and a hint to the words found on the edges of the starred answers].

  • 23A: [*Agreement to post bail with a collateral deposit] is SECURE BOND, with a split second.
  • 35A: [*Spat] is MINOR DISPUTE, with a split minute.
  • 51A: [*One putting on a coat at home?] is HOUSE PAINTER, with a split hour.
  • 69A: [*Two-outs-of-three act] is DOUBLE PLAY, with a split day.
  • 73A: [*Jets coach who won Super Bowl III] is WEEB EWBANK, with a split week.
  • 94A: [*Improperly handled, perhaps] is MONKEYED WITH, with a split month.
  • 109A: [*Tulip tree, by another name] is YELLOW POPLAR, with a split year.

It surprised me that I couldn’t find many phrases that split decade. There’s DENTAL ARCADE (a technical term for a part of the dental arch) and the psychedelic band DEEP SEA ARCADE. I hadn’t heard of them until now but you can listen to their song “Close to Me” here. It’s got a good sound, in my opinion.

Some other answers and clues:

  • 19A: [It’s nearly impossible to split its cream equally between both wafers, per research from MIT] is OREO. Finding new ways to clue OREO is the eternal struggle of just about every crossword constructor. Modern science to the rescue.
  • 48A: [Season of “Snowpiercer”] is WINTER. A nuclear winter, that is. This clue made me wonder if there are any TV shows that give separate names to their seasons like they do with their episodes (beyond, say, “Stranger Things 3” or “Stranger Things 4″).
  • 50A: [Journalist Froomkin] is DAN Froomkin. Formerly of The Washington Post, he now edits the website Press Watch.
  • 60A: [“In war, one must take sides, and you had best choose mine” speaker in the video game “Hades”] is ARES. There’s that “Hades”-related clue I’ve been waiting to give Ares. I had to give it a few months after I gave ARTEMIS the same treatment.
  • 66A: [It’s put aside when you swallow your pride] is EGO. This is one of a few clues that rhyme. There’s SEA at 68A: [Main domain] and LOUT at 40D: [Rude, crude dude].
  • 105A is a rare picture clue. It shows the three American Sign Language letters for ASL.
  • 112A: [Big beast in a bloat] is HIPPO. A group of hippos is called a bloat.
  • 14D: [Greenland sharks have long ones] is LIFESPANS. Since this is a puzzle about time, here’s a fun fact about Greenland sharks: They’re estimated to live more than 250 years. Some may even be 500 years old.
  • 22D: [Noodles whose instant version was invented by Momofuku Ando] is RAMEN. Ando invented instant ramen in the 1950s, then introduced them to the U.S. in 1970.
  • 29D: [Waiting periods?] is DINNERS. My favorite clue today.
  • 69D is DATA and 70D is ORES, both clued as [Mined material]. Finding answers that can take identical clues always feels a bit lucky, if only because it can save me time from having to think of two different clues. Having both of them right next to each other, though, is fairly rare.
  • 95D: [Mauna ___ (volcano that stands slightly taller than Mauna Loa)] is KEA. Whenever you have a three-letter answer and the clue says “Mauna ___,” you almost always have no choice but to work out the crossing answers to figure out if it’s KEA or LOA. I figured I could give you a helping hand here.
  • 102D: [“Constantine” star] is Keanu REEVES. It only occurred to me after I submitted the puzzle that I had Reeves’s “Bill & Ted” co-star Alex Winter’s full name in the puzzle, with ALEX at 2D: [Morgan who won the Silver Boot at the 2019 World Cup] and the aforementioned WINTER at 48D.

Here’s another reminder that next week’s puzzle will be an old one from archives. I hope you enjoy it the second time around.





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