I pulled out 23D “_ vez” (“Again,” in Valencia): OTRA because years ago I got a Sierra Nevada Otra Vez-flavored lip balm. My local favorite bar used to have tap takeover where a brewery rep would send a bunch of special runs of beer for the night for the bar to feature, and the reps would bring pint glasses or other giveaways. I still have the Otra Vez lip balm, and I offer it to Calah whenever she asks me to grab her lip balm for her. She hates everything about this lip balm other than that it works. But she’d rather her lips fall off than be anywhere near this stuff.
17A Jovial seasonal mood: CHRISTMASSPIRIT. 22A Cost of not doing business, maybe: LOSTOPPORTUNITY. 51A Why everyone loves a good train wreck: MORBIDCURIOSITY. 57A Uniquely American cleverness: YANKEEINGENUITY.
36A NASA endeavors whose vehicles can be found at the ends of 17-, 22-, 51- and 57-Across: MARTIANMISSIONS. Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, and Ingenuity all were missions.
I pulled out 47D Prepare, in a way, as chicken: DEBONE. Why do boned and deboned mean the same thing? I got a pair of boning knives at Costco Business Center years ago. They are thin and sharp. Now I have a bunch of cutting boards, as you can read about in my woodworking blog. I finished another one this evening.
48A Display of mentalism … or a hint to this puzzle’s shaded squares: SPOONBENDING. I don’t know that to be mentalism. Is it mentalism? I mean, maybe. I don’t know. Seems more like telekinesis, but maybe that falls under the umbrella of mentalism. I’ll check with my sources and get back to you on that.
I had two cutting boards under my belt to this point. The first, a simple edge grain that was maple and walnut. The second, a more complicated edge grain that was entirely cherry and had an offset. I had done some planning for each, but the planning factored in the cutting depth of the Proxxon table saw that only makes through cuts. I had gotten my DeWalt table saw in the middle of the cherry cutting board project, and this would be the first one without limits for cutting depth.
I had some desires for this cutting board project: 1. I wanted very little waste. The amount I had to cut off the edges for the offset bothered me. I would have to build that in to preserve as much wood as I could. 2. I wanted the contrast of the light and dark woods. The cherry was fine, and I’d do it again with cherry, but I like the contrast more. 3. I wanted to play around with thicknesses. The prior projects had uniform thicknesses of pieces of wood that I glued together, but the increased cutting depth would allow me to play around with a mix of thicknesses.
I was still at the mercy of whatever the guys at House of Hardwood decided to put in the scrap area.
When I went shopping for this project, I found a lot of poplar. But poplar is bad for cutting boards. I also found ash. Ash can be good for cutting boards.
I found no walnut.
But I had a little bit of walnut left over from my first cutting board project!
I had enough of an idea to start up.
I set up my table saw with my makeshift outfeed table of a board attached to a folding table and set up my fence to rip the walnut. I have since become aware that the fence flips down for closer cuts with the blade guard.
I liked the uniformity of these cuts and the variety of colors. I was off to a good start. I’d have more play with the ash.
Again, the fence flips down for closer cuts. I know that now.
With more uniform pieces, I’d cut some thinner ones.
I had it almost all lined up perfectly. It was those thin piece that threw off the height. But I was sure it’d be worth it.
I pulled out 6D Title girl in a bygone MTV cartoon: DARIA because it’s a show that my sister and I used to watch. I found out about it because she was watching it. It had a lot of 50D Frequent teenage sensation: ANGST. The music in the show was amazing, and I remember they even had the band Garbage on, and Garbage did a TV commercial for Daria. In cartoon form, of course. I hope I’m right about that.
20A Prompt action when things are unraveling: STITCHINTIME. 32A Beat around the bush: HEMANDHAW. 42A “Oh, blast!”: DARNITALL.
54AWhat ties everything together, including 20-, 32- and 42-Across?: COMMONTHREAD. Stich, hem, darn. All use thread.
I pulled out 58A “The One I Love” band: REM because I haven’t listened to REM in a while, and that streak needs to end. And on the topic of streaks, my NYTXW streak is now at 82 and not at 1. But since I finished late, the dumb system is giving me a one-day streak. You’ll see tomorrow that it’s back on track.
The title of this puzzle is Season to Taste.
23A Little tyke / Flatter, with “up”: PEANUT🔔BUTTER. 6D It was eliminated from the U.S. in 2004: RU🔔A -> RUBELLA. 33A Relative of a tee-hee / Bit of marginalia: SNICKER🤍DOODLE. 36D Genuine: 🤍FELT -> HEARTFELT. 43A Pep / Onesie feature: GINGER🎄SNAP. 40D Some graffiti: S🎄TART -> STREETART. 52A Ring / Hold, as inhabitants: TOLL💸HOUSE. 48D Citrus hybrid: T💸O -> TANGELO. 69A Reduce in volume / As new: THIN⭐MINT. 58D Where to go on a trip?: RE⭐EA -> RESTAREA. 85A Kind of leaf / Scientist born on Christmas Day in 1642: FIG🧝♂️NEWTON. 56D Personal essence: TRUES🧝♂️ -> TRUESELF. 93A Possible result of getting one’s wires crossed / Moolah: SHORT🏑BREAD. 77D Pirate: BUC🏑ER ->BUCCANEER. 102A Breakfast dish / Fruitcake tidbit: OATMEAL🕺RAISIN. 88D More than enough: TOO🕺Y -> TOOMANY.
116A This puzzle’s images, in two different ways: COOKIECUTTER. Because the shapes are cookie cutters, and the shapes cut the cookies in half.
I pulled out 31A Kind of exam with an “Auditing and Attestation” section: CPA because it’s now been almost a decade since I passed the CPA exam, and this clue still makes me shudder. I took the audit exam without ever having been on an audit. When I was in the Becker CPA Review class for the Regulation exam, someone in my class who was working as an auditor boasted to me that he got a 75 (the minimum passing score) on the audit exam. To that point, I hadn’t yet been on an audit but got a 90 (where maximum score is 99) on the exam. Passing is passing, so none of that really matters, but I’m glad I don’t have to study it anymore. Also I realize I never got my cup of coffee from Peter Olinto.
I pulled out 24A Quarters feed into them: SEMIS because parking meters are accepting quarters and dollar coins but not dimes anymore. I remember when I would put a coin into a meter and turn that crank and have the mechanical indicator show how much time was left. That was fun. But those days are long gone.
I pulled out 42A Small bouquet: POSY because that’s the name of the rabbi whose class I attend via zoom most Thursdays. It’s a class that’s about what’s in the bible and how it applies today rather than just what’s in there the end.
15A Flummox: BEWILDER. 17A Flummox: BEMUSE. 55A Flummox: BEFUDDLE. 52A Flummox … or a classic word game represented by the central grid of shaded squares, in which 15-, 17- and 55-Across can be found: BOGGLE.
The puzzle online animates the four theme clues as they would be in the game Boggle one letter at a time. It’s way more decent a theme than I had expected.
So far, this has been the hardest crossword post I’ve had to write. My hands are very, very cold, and moving my fingers to the proper places to put words up here is difficult, my brain thinks a sentence, and my fingers are like, “Nah, we’re good where we are.” I’m glad I can write this in private because blowing into my cupped hands has been more effective than letting them freeze in place. The living room is at about 60 right now, but in my office area, it’s, wait, it’s way colder than 61. This thermometer clearly is garbage.
I pulled out 22A Start of a tax form: LINEA because I’m a CPA in California, but I don’t do tax. So this clue was not an easy solve for me.
I pulled out 23D Got married in Vegas, perhaps: ELOPED because during the 517 day of our engagement, Calah and I wished that we could just do that and get the wedding over with. We wanted as nice a wedding as possible, but COVID. It was difficult for sure. Ultimately, it worked out that we just had a small wedding, and December 15 marks four months. It was an ordeal and feels like a lifetime ago, but it was an experience worth waiting for.
17A Northern European region: SCANDANAVIA.
30A Its flag has a blue 61-Across: FINLAND.
48A Its flag has a white 61-Across: DENMARK.
25D Its flag has a yellow 61-Across: SWEDEN.
32D Its flag has a blue-and-white 61-Across: NORWAY.
61A Flag symbol seen twice in this puzzle’s grid: NORDICCROSS.