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MONDAY PUZZLE — In 1964, I was but a wee crossword columnist, but I have a vague memory of my parents taking me to a huge park where there were no swings or slides and I wasn’t allowed to get out of my stroller. The adults were oohing and aahing over things that didn’t seem half as impressive to me as a good sandbox, and what I remember most is that the sweater my parents had dressed me in that day was extremely itchy.
Perhaps you’ve been to a park like that. If you haven’t, Michael Lieberman — who makes his New York Times Crossword debut — appears to have both a time machine and tickets for us.
38A. As Mr. Lieberman mentions in his notes below, the theme park with an “Imagination!” pavilion is EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), and it has ties to the theme. Walt Disney drew heavily from the innovations presented at World’s Fairs to create his idea of a utopian community that utilized the best of technology and transportation.
53A. Welcome to the dad joke portion of the puzzle. The rock band that “electrifies” audiences is AC/DC.
3D. BRUTE FORCE makes its debut, and it is clued as an “inelegant problem-solving technique.” I’ve employed it quite often when playing video games where I have to solve a puzzle and am not making much headway. It doesn’t involve taking an AXE to my console. In that context, it just means keying in every possible answer in rapid succession until you solve it. Some of you — I won’t name names — may employ this technique when playing Spelling Bee.
27D. The TV channel for college sports is ESPNU. Isn’t that a great series of letters for a crossword puzzle?
42D. The last time I got a raise at work, my first words were “Woo hoo!” The words spoken after a big raise in this clue are I FOLD because we’re supposed to be thinking about a poker game.
48D. Shout out to the super gymnast Simone BILES.
Mr. Lieberman offers us a tour of three notable features of past World’s Fairs.
If you are a new solver, it’s possible that you have not seen clues like these before. The theme clues are starred for visibility, and all they consist of is a city and a year. You’re supposed to guess what that means, which may seem impossible. Fortunately, there’s a helpful hint in the revealer at 58A: The theme answers are things that were built for the WORLD’S FAIRS of — from the top of the grid to the bottom — 1962, 1889 and 1893.
For example, at 27A, the answer to the clue “Seattle, 1962” is the SPACE NEEDLE, which was built for the World’s Fair held that year.
Hi, Crossworld! I’m thrilled to be making my New York Times Crossword debut today.
The idea for this puzzle came while I was reading Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City.” I had just started constructing, so I was hyper-aware of word lengths, and I noticed the matched pair of FERRIS WHEEL and EIFFEL TOWER. I knew that another World’s Fair was coming up soon, so I figured there was potential for a timely puzzle. When I saw that SPACE NEEDLE and the revealer would complete the set, I was off to the races.
I was pleased to sneak in EPCOT as a mini-bonus in the center row, and I’m happy — and surprised — to see that I’m debuting 3-Down and 66-Across. The original plan was for this to run on or around Oct. 20, 2020, the date that the 2020 World’s Fair was scheduled to kick off in Dubai. That didn’t happen, for obvious reasons, but I hope this puzzle reminds solvers of past vacations taken and sights seen — and I hope that we’re all able to safely travel and explore again soon.
As a Dodgers fan who is still not fully over the 2017 World Series (although 2020 helped quite a bit in that respect), I should note that the stacked pair of 4-Across and 15-Across was unintentional but apt.
Finally, thanks to the New York Times Crossword editorial team for allowing me to make a last-minute cluing change (to my own clue!), which I very much appreciated.
I hope you enjoy the puzzle, and if you like, please say hello on Twitter (@footnote24).
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