When I’ve been asked to play 64-Across in the past, one of my selections is always some variation on: “I listened to ‘Sex Bomb’ by Tom Jones on repeat every day for ten days in Belarus while a Ukrainian women’s champion wrestler beat the crap out of me.”
When I was 17, a Russian expatriate who coached my high school wrestling team used an old Soviet contact to get me invited to a training camp for prep school wrestlers. We would be working out with, among others, the Belarusian national team at their Olympic complex outside of Minsk.
On the first day of training, inside a cavernous gym converted from a military airplane hangar, I locked up with a champion from Kiev. Her thighs were easily twice the diameter of mine. She manhandled me for several minutes before settling on her haunches and muttering something in Russian, not yet having broken a sweat. During the interval we became aware of the patter of slippered feet behind us, feet just barely visible underneath a curtain of heavy green military tarp. “Dansúre,” the woman said, dropping her temple to the mat to get a better look.
It was the Belarusian Olympic ballroom dancing team beginning their morning practice on the far side of the massive enclosure where the wrestlers trained. (In fact, over the course of the next ten days we never observed the dancers above the ankle, and so they assumed a mythical beauty our minds.) Within a few minutes, their accompaniment began blaring over the gym’s single audio system: “Sex Bomb” by Tom Jones. I laughed and looked at my sparring partner. She spoke no English and continued to maul me with vestigial Soviet precision for the next half hour, during which time Sex Bomb played on a loop with no discernable pause in between. Spy on me baby use satellite, infrared to see me move through the night. She took me down and pinned me using techniques that I’d never seen let alone learned counters to. You can turn me upside down inside out. None of the other severe and workmanlike athletes seemed to be taking any notice. Sex bomb sex bomb, you’re my sex bomb.
You can’t make this shit up. More on “You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up” from Amanda and me after the jump.
Amanda: Ross and I have made so many puzzles together that sometimes its hard to remember the process of making any particular one. But there are two things I know for sure: 1) The process was too much fun, and 2) I half-jokingly proposed an outrageous clue somewhere along the line. I hope you enjoy this offering from the never ending conveyor belt of Ross & Amanda collaborations ☺️
Ross: This concept’s strength lies in how self-contained it is. TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (16) is totally accurate description of what’s going on here, thematically. However, it’s a pretty simple formulation. I don’t really go in for concepts like this unless you can do something pretty elegant with the grid architecture. In this case, it really did hinge on whether or not we could find two 16-long TRUTHS and one 16-long LIE. In that way, it parallels the concept/execution of a grid Amanda and I had recently in the New York Times.
Happy solving, friends.