“Electric Slide”


Jessie and I recently cancelled our Thanksgiving and Christmas travel plans, which means 2020 will break my lifelong streak of 36 holiday seasons spent in New York City with my parents. This is a heavy blow, but it’s the right call.

We’re buoying our spirits by reframing this year as an opportunity to forge new traditions, which *is* helping, but my mind keeps drifting back to the old pre-war Upper West Side apartment where I spent the first twenty holiday seasons of my life.

I learned that the sun rises in the east because of how it would smolder behind the apartment buildings of the Upper East Side before emerging. We were on the 11th floor and my room had one large window that faced Central Park. The window went nearly from wall to wall, with a one-foot wide stone sill. There I sat, year over year, smelling the Thanksgiving smells wafting up from the kitchen… doing homework, or watching pinpricks of light take off from JFK, or trying and failing to blow all the smoke into the updraft above Central Park West. 

They sold the apartment when my brother left for college in 2006. A month or two after the move, my sister called me in my dorm room in Providence to tell me that our old apartment had been completely gutted by a fire during the new owner’s renovation. I asked how the fire had started. She explained that some oily rags had been sitting among sawdust and had spontaneously combusted. After some research, it turned out that this is a legitimate phenomenon. Given the right conditions, common things can just catch fire.

Nothing lasts forever, eh? But we’re learning in this household that the best traditions are the ones you begin with intention. And that you should attend to them as though you’ll carry them out anew forever, even when you know that–of course–you won’t.

Some thoughts on “Electric Slide” (spoilers ahead!) after the jump.

Speaking of change

Well, it’s probably plain where this puzzle started. I know that a TRANSFER OF POWER (15) is *likely* to take place on January 20th, but… I’m going to let the anxiety build merrily in my chest until we actually see it happen.

I spent a *long* time learning about the different ways one can transfer electricity for this puzzle. Microwaves! Who knew? In the end, it felt like the three methods represented here (CHARGING PAD, TESLA COIL, JUMPER CABLE) were distinct enough in terms of the actual physics involved…

And it ended up being another theme set that lent itself to mirror symmetry rather than rotational symmetry, which generally allows for a bunch more grid flexibility.

Oh, and I think my general exhaustion at the criminally drawn-out nature of our recent election has blunted my instinct to dial back some of my more extra clues. In 2021, I’ll probably have more energy to talk myself down from STUDENT [One who might get an academy award?], NICE [Word written atop a certain Yule log?], and PIÑATAS [They get bashed at some bashes].

Happy solving, friends.


12 thoughts on ““Electric Slide”

  1. Hi, Ross. Shouldn’t 3D, 6D, and 9D refer to 55A, not 65A? This seems kinda important. (Otherwise, I don’t get it. And actually, I didn’t get it until after I finished and read your notes. But that’s just my thickness.). All best, and thanks.

  2. Thanks for the theme, and for the Thanksgiving memories. I am going to try to keep #20 across for the next few weeks, until Jan. 20. Best wishes to you & yours this week.

  3. Thanks Ross (and thanks, Blaine, for pointing out what was driving me to think I was even MORE stupid!) A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all!

  4. Okaayyy … so … the comments here confirm what I had just figured out: that the “.puz” file I downloaded early this morning had 65’s in three places where there should have been 55’s. So once again, God’s in His Heaven and all’s right with the world! … except for a certain orange monstrosity … but … I refuse to dwell on that … 🤪.

  5. I am so glad that I discovered these puzzles. Very fun and a nice community of people. Our local daily newspaper takes Monday off so this is a great substitute for the NYT that day. Thanks!

  6. Hi Ross, I share your anxiety about the current state of affairs but hope it is somewhat eased now that we in PA have certified the results.
    Thanks for these puzzles, they have been a welcome and wonderful distraction these past few months when it felt I was doing nothing other than work and GOTV.

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