If the Clue Fits …

You never know what you're going to get, but it's always a treat.John Ewbank's Sunday puzzle is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get, but it's always a treat.

If the Clue Fits …

John Ewbank, a British science journalist from Macclesfield in England (near Manchester), is the author of SUNDAY PIZZLE. He has written cryptic puzzles for The Times of London. Recently, he's been experimenting with American-style grids. This is his third Sunday puzzle for The New York Times.

The more you learn!

Tricky Clues

It's a coincidence that the Hubble Telescope just caught a pair early examples in the deepest recesses of our universe. This QUASAR is a 'Highly luminous galaxy object'.

Talking about luminosity, 'Orion’s belt points it' is SIRIUS the dog star which twinkles when seen through a telescopic lens.

10D. I thought that "What an URL might mean" would be a reference to social media, but the answer is a sports schedule where an at sign signifies a ROAD GAME.

This is a portmanteau for 'glamorous camp', which first appeared in 2020. However, the term itself is older.

This entry was in my memory, and I eventually recognized it, but I initially thought that 'Do some Maintenance on, as a computer's disk,' meant'resort', meaning categorize your files again. Instead of DEFRAG which is a method to consolidate files, I thought it meant'resort', as in categorize them again. A few of the clues here confused me. 'Where there is smoke' appeared to be more of a cluing than a FLUE, and I thought that the Mother of Apollo and Artemis was Leda who bore Castor & Pollux instead of LETO. This mythology was used exclusively to clue LETO from 1942 until 2002 when "My So-Called Life" actor Jared first appeared.

Today's Theme

Six entries are included in today's theme set, located at 22, 33, 50, 68, 88, and 105-Across. There is also a revealer, which demonstrates the other side of the trick, at 121-Across. The clues for each entry are phrases that end in nothing, which at first made me nervous. With a few cross-letter hints I was able to get the gist pretty quickly.

The clues in this game are not cryptic. They're just the definitions of the first part of idiomatic expressions that, once you understand them, will... complete themselves. Once you understand what is happening, the clues are actually pleasant little prompts. They gave me a double dose of pleasure. The clue was deciphered first, then the expression indicated by the entry was remembered.

The easiest theme to begin with, according to me, is 105-Across: "Well, if locals do it ...',', then WHEN IN RUSSIA." The first three words of the longer saying "When in Rome, do what the Romans do" are the full meaning. It's been a while since I heard the entire expression. The last time I heard "WHEN IN ROME" was during a video conference where most participants turned off their cameras, a practice that soon became commonplace. We should have said When in Zoom.

It took me a few crosses to figure out 50-Across. "Look who it's ...'' that solves SPEAK OF DEVIL. I forgot there was a second part to this expression: "... and he'll appear." This is a phrase I am familiar with, especially when people appear just as you are gossiping about them.

This made me think about the appeal of the phrase 'anapodoton'. It's the inside joke, that feeling of satisfaction (apparently in the hippocampus) when you finish another person's sentence. As the revealer of 121-Across said, "Etc. etc.", this satisfaction is reciprocal. "... or a statement regarding the answers to this puzzle’s starred clues?" Yada, yada: YOU KNOW THE REST.

Constructor Notes

This is called 'anapodoton'. It is when the main clause ('Do as Romans do'), is not explicitly stated, but is implied by the subclause ("When in Rome ....'). This can be used as a threat ('If that happens again. Wikipedia says that this is also common in classical Chinese. For example, "A frog can't imagine the ocean in a pond ...'" is a phrase by Zhuangzi, which means you should go out more. Even Sunday is a day of school. The lecture is over.

I hope you like the puzzle. Don't worry if you get stuck. The tough times are when we need to be resilient. ...

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