Resolution to Evan Birnholz’s Dec. 18 crossword, “Themeless No. 21”


I not too long ago celebrated a piece anniversary. As of Dec. 6, I’ve been writing crosswords for The Washington Submit for seven years. I’d be mendacity, nevertheless, if I stated it was the happiest work anniversary, on condition that The Washington Submit introduced on Nov. 30 that it’s shutting down The Post Magazine after subsequent week’s closing subject. As I mentioned last week, although, it is possible for you to discover my crossword within the Arts & Type part of the newspaper starting Jan. 1. To the extent that it’s potential, I’d advocate getting a print copy of The Journal on Dec. 25, not only for the puzzle’s sake (there’s extra about that on the finish of the publish) however as a collector’s merchandise.

I’d written last August that I included a pair of 18-letter solutions for “Themeless No. 18,” a 19-letter reply for “Themeless No. 19,” and a pair of 20-letter solutions for “Themeless No. 20.” So, what do now we have for at present’s “Themeless No. 21”? Six interlocking, grid-spanning 21-letter solutions:

  • 23A: [“Stranger Things,” e.g.] is NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES.
  • 66A: [“Obviously!”] is “THAT GOES WITHOUT SAYING.”
  • 109A: [Labour organiser, at times] is LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.
  • 3D: [Like gory films among those who are squeamish, say] is NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.
  • 9D: [“Look, this is the best we’re gonna get”] is “BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS.”
  • 16D: [Group in between the Bushes] is CLINTON ADMINISTRATION.

I can’t sustain the development of utilizing matching-length solutions for every successive themeless puzzle ceaselessly, so I don’t anticipate “Themeless No. 22” could have a 22-letter reply. That signifies that the 22-letter phrase THEMELESS SUNDAY PUZZLES will doubtless not see the sunshine of day in a single my crosswords. But when I discover a actually good 22-letter phrase and give you what I feel is a killer clue for it … who is aware of?

Working with six grid-spanning solutions like this constrains what you are able to do with the remainder of the grid, however listed here are another solutions and clues of observe:

  • 27A: [Animals that were domesticated around 8000 B.C. in what is now western Iran] is GOATS. I realized that from this New Scientist article from June 2021.
  • 31A: [Language introduced in L. L. Zamenhof’s 1887 book “Unua Libro”] is ESPERANTO. I hadn’t recognized till now that it’s been round for over 130 years. I additionally didn’t know till now that you may learn it on Duolingo.
  • 34A and the subsequent Throughout reply at 35A have the identical clue: [“The Addams Family” character who speaks using seemingly unintelligible sounds]. That may be ITT and LURCH, respectively.
  • 53A: [Where some soldiers are stationed?] is ANT FARM. I’m picturing that these ants participate in little navy parades, with tiny drums and fifes. Admit it: So are you.
  • 72A: [Flash point?] is STROBE. My favourite clue at present.
  • 94A: [Nice words?] is FRENCH. Utilizing the town of Good as a misdirect for a French phrase is an previous standby for crosswords.
  • 100A: [Ocean-surveying images obtained by reflecting sound waves] is ECHOGRAMS. File this below “factor I didn’t know existed till I wrote this puzzle.”
  • 120A: [Childish but truthful reply to “I went to Mars for vacation!”] is “DID NOT.” The “infantile reply” class of reply is a bane for a lot of solvers and constructors, most likely partly as a result of there are such a lot of of them (like AM SO, IS TOO, IS NOT, and many others.) and so they’re nearly all the time clued the identical method. I believed it could be enjoyable to spruce up this reply by imagining a dialog that two children may need on the playground the place one among them would possibly say DID NOT.
  • 12D: [Images of Belle and Sebastian, e.g.] is CELS. That is in regards to the Disney characters, not the band.
  • 36D: [Star’s output] is HEAT. I used to be tempted to offer it a Miami Warmth clue because it’s close by BRON at 29A: [NBA star James, informally].
  • 61D: [Occasional Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, oddly] is PHRASE. I assume Phrases of the Yr doesn’t come off proper even when it’s a two-word phrase. This 12 months the winner was “goblin mode.”
  • 97D: [Early 20th-century senator Reed who becomes pointless to debate if you remove the first letter?] is SMOOT, who turns into the phrase MOOT when you delete the S. It’s odd how just last week I had one other senator from yesteryear in STENNIS and I went to a wordplay angle with him, too.
  • A pair of World Cup-related clues at 111D: [Cry one may hear after “¡Goooooooooooool!”] which is OLÉ and at 114D: [World Cup target] which is NET. Who’re you predicting to win at present’s closing match? I’m rooting for Lionel Messi to win in what could also be his closing World Cup, however France has seemed very, excellent (arguably a greater staff than Argentina so far) and it wouldn’t shock me if Kylian Mbappé takes house the Golden Boot trophy. (And no, FRENCH being within the grid at 94A was not my method of creating a prediction.)

Lastly, right here’s a heads-up about subsequent week’s year-ending puzzle: It’s not going to be an everyday crossword. In case you keep in mind final 12 months’s “Haunted House” meta suite — which featured some smaller, nonstandard puzzle codecs — it’s going to be like that, however unfold out over one web page reasonably than two. I had been hoping to write down one other meta suite for some time, however didn’t discover the hook I’d wished till round Thanksgiving. Go large or go house, as they are saying, and because it’s the ultimate subject of The Submit Journal, it felt further essential to go large. Good luck and I hope you’ll get pleasure from it.

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