New York Times crossword March 24 / Constructed by Dan Schoenholz
I have disappointing news for those solvers — myself included — who saw today’s puzzle title and thought it hinted at something risqué. “I know it when I see it” is how former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart memorably defined obscenity in a 1964 pornography case.
Alas, this is a family newspaper, and the crossword actually dealt with a much more tame topic: WHAT IS ART? (“Classic question answered six times in this puzzle,” 67 Across). The first response, from John F. Kennedy, is THE GREAT DEMOCRAT (24 Across).
Others: BUT A VISION OF REALITY (Yeats, 32 Across); A REVOLT AGAINST FATE (Malraux, 49 Across); SELFISH AND PERVERSE (Beethoven, 88 Across); THE PROPER TASK OF LIFE (Nietzsche, 107 Across); and A JEALOUS MISTRESS (Emerson, 116 Across).
I have to confess I wasn’t familiar with Malraux, he of the “revolt against fate” quote. Turns out Andre Malraux was a French novelist and statesman who served for a decade as that country’s minister for cultural affairs.
For Fun Dept.: There were a few amusing long answers that weren’t part of the theme. “End an engagement?” is GET MARRIED (85 Across). “Nightmarish thoroughfare?” is ELM STREET (82 Down). And an “Indignant reply” is WELL, I NEVER! (55 Across).
Philly Shout-Out / March Madness Dept.: “Those not favored” are DARK HORSES (78 Down). And boy are those dark horses busting some brackets in the NCAA basketball tournament. Philly’s own La Salle University — which had to win a play-in game to earn the No. 13 seed — knocked off No. 4 Kansas State on Friday. And No. 1 seed Gonzaga got booted yesterday by upstart Wichita State.
Times Two Dept.: The doubled clue “Greek vowel” yields both ALPHA (49 Down) and ETA (56 Down). “As easy as pie, say” is a SIMILE (14 Down), while “As easy as ___” is ABC (15 Down).
A Galaxy Far, Far Away Dept.: A “Star Wars” biped is an EWOK (48 Across), which reminded me of last night’s funny “Saturday Night Live” bit about “The Sopranos” in high school (below). Around the 1:48 mark, a young Paulie (Fred Armisen) tries to explain to Tony & Co. that “Return of the Jedi” features these “little space bears.”
Live From New York Dept.: Speaking of “S.N.L.,” 60 Across is IT’S PAT (“1994 film based on an ‘S.N.L.’ skit”).