Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 396), “Let’s Call it a Jay!”—Ade’s take
Happy New Year, everyone! I am sure all of you are starting your 2019 in style and, if you’re starting it with crosswords, that’s even better! Today’s grid is a homage to the start of the New Year, with each of the four theme entries being a variant description/interpretation of the repeating clue, “Jay,” with the final theme entry, FIRST OF JANUARY, literally describing the first letter in the word “January” and, also, what today’s date happens to be (62A: [JAY (or a time to make a fresh start…Happy New Year!)
- TV FUNNYMAN LENO (16A: [JAY])
- CRESTED BLUE BIRD (29A: [JAY])
- GATSBY OF WEST EGG (47A: [JAY])
Lots of long, lively fill outside of the theme entries in this grid, and loved the clue to WINERIES, something that I, sadly, have never been to in my life before (11D: [Pressing concerns in California]). Throw in OENO and this grid surely is suggesting that you should have a nice, soothing drink during your New Year’s Eve/Day (13A: [Winemaker’s prefix]). Oh, and then there’s SIP as well in the grid, so, as long as you’re of legal drinking age, you can’t help but have a wine glass in your hand at the moment (38A: [Wee champagne sample]). Definitely get jealous when I see friends of mine on Facebook post pictures of their times at wineries. If there is a winery in the Bay Area that I should visit (hoping to be in the area in March), let me know of a couple of good spots. (Red wine drinker here, in the Malbec/Bordeaux mold.)
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PEP (27D: [Vigor]) – Regarded as the best coach in world football (soccer), Josep “Pep” Guardiola is currently the manager of Manchester City Football Club in the English Premier League. As a player, Pep played 263 games as a midfield for famed soccer club FC Barcelona, helping the team win the Champions League in 1992. Pep embarked on his illustrious coaching career when he became manager of Barcelona in 2008, where he led the Blaugrana to three top-flight Spanish league titles (2009-2011), two Spanish Cup/Copa del Rey titles (2009, 2012) and two UEFA Champions League trophies (2009, 2011). Pep then led German superpower FC Bayern München to three straight top-flight German titles (2014-16) before arriving in England.
I hope you all have a PEACEFUL (36D: [Serene]) time in ringing in the new year, and also hope you OPTIMIZE the time you have in being with family and friends while putting 2018 in the rear view (37D: [Make the best of]). Thank you so much for the time that you continue to devote to reading the thoughts of all of the bloggers and reviewers on Fiend, especially to start the new year! Here’s to you! Have a wonderful day, everyone, and, as always, keep solving!!
Gary Cee’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay, including 2-Down is a terrible way to start the crossword’s year. In the interest of expediency, let me refer you to Jeff Chen’s discussion of that entry in his notes at XWordInfo. Baseball fans call a [Pitch to the head, informally] a bean ball, and BEANER is more commonly used as a racist slur aimed at Mexican people. Jeff also points out the quick-and-easy fix, changing ABEL and ANI to AHEM and ALI, making 2d HEALER instead (that would also require a change to the opposite corner’s ALI, which could easily be ADS instead). It pisses me off that (a) the constructor included this in the grid and (b) that Will Shortz rationalized its retention when it would be so simple to fix it. Can we all try to be better in 2019, please? To expect more of ourselves?
The theme revealer is PASSABLE, and the theme answers begin with things that can be passed. HAT TRICK, pass the hat for donations. TORCH SONG, pass the torch to your successor. TIME SIGNATURE, pass the time. BUCK TEETH, pass the buck and avoid accountability.
What else? I like ONCE-OVER, I like the proper TAPAS (instead of the iffy TAPA that’s in too many grids), I like the TREMBLE/RAMBLE echo.
Possibly out of place in an easy Tuesday puzzle: ABA, ASP, TABU, KOLAS, GEKKO, ERVIN, and (!!) 39d. [Hammond ___, writer of “The Wreck of the Mary Deare”], INNES.
3.5 stars for most of the puzzle, 0 stars for 2d.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Not the Best of 2018″ – Derek’s write-up
For a year-end review, how about some low points? Kind of like ESPN’s Not Top Ten plays of the year. You get the idea:
- 17A [Extremely annoying kids’ song (“doo doo doo doo doo doo”) which also featured in themed clothing like a pajama set or graphic T) BABY SHARK
- 20A [Action sequel called the worst movie of 2018 by multiple critics (with hastily-edited ads ending in “Rated R”)] THE PREDATOR – This got a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. Holmes and Watson has, as of today, an 8%!
- 37A [College football team ranked 121st out of 129 by CBS sports (between New Mexico and Kent State U.] RUTGERS – Not good when you are battling in the Big Ten Conference!
- 48A [Entertainer criticized for a racially insensitive tweet in October–not a good look fo the Divine Miss M] BETTE MIDLER
- 53A [Canceled Fox sitcom with a first episode aptly titled “Pilot” (that’s Pilot with a capital “P”)] LA TO VEGAS – Never heard of it. Easy come, easy go …
Don’t think I won’t post that Baby Shark video just to annoy you! My 6-year-old knows all about this. Nice final compilation for 2018. I wonder what dreck will come about in 2019? 4.6 stars.
A few things:
- 9A [Club counterpart] SPADE – Counterpart?? I guess. I am just tired and cranky; perhaps I need a nap!
- 33A [Words in an infomercial disclaimer] PAID AD – I suppose they have to say this before someone sues them for misleading information, even though that is precisely what these are: ads!!
- 41A [“The Shape of Water” director Guillermo del __ ] TORO – I thought this movie wasn’t bad. Best Picture? Maybe not, but still good. Weird, but good.
- 62A [Nine, in some “Sesame Street” episodes] NUEVE – Any accents in this spelling? I hope not!
- 23D [A bunch] OODLES – This made me smile. Not sure why!
- 28D [Greg who missed the entire 2007-08 season after his #1 NBA draft pick] ODEN – He is from nearby Indianapolis, so I followed his story. It is amazing that these huge men stay healthy at all. He only played 105 games over 7 seasons, four of which he never saw the court. He was 7’0″ and 250 lbs!
- 37D [Progressive online news site since 2004] RAW STORY – I have seen a few clickbait links to this site from social media. Nice entry; no NYT hits!
- 54D [Ph.D. hopeful’s exam] GRE – I can never remember this acronym. Perhaps because I don’t have a PhD!
That promised video!
Derek Bowman’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
The constructor has a cool name! And we feature an author I’ll bet you didn’t know has a birthday on New Year’s Day:
- 21A & 27A [50-Across classic] THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
- 45A [50-Across work featuring the two youngest Glass siblings] FRANNY AND ZOOEY
- 68A [Title heroine in one of 50-Across’ “Nine Stories”] ESME
- 50A [Author born 1/1/1919] J. D. SALINGER
I don’t think I have ever ready anything by this author. That is on me; I am sure these are in the public domain by now; if not, it cannot be that expensive. I think I will try to read more in 2019! Look for me on GoodReads. 4.3 stars.
A few more things:
- 1A [Language of southern Africa] BANTU – I feel ignorant not knowing exactly which country or countries this is spoken in. I hate that feeling, but there are literally thousands of languages and it is hard to know them all.
- 32A [“Neither snow __ rain …”] NOR – I don’t have to worry about these things anymore! (I am a retired UPS driver!)
- 37A [Words repeated after “Whatever” in a Doris Day song] WILL BE – From the song “Que Sera Sera” from The Man Who Knew Too Much, I believe. I won’t put a copy here and get it stuck in your head! (Although it may be already!)
- 3D [Cavs’ org.] NBA – Their center recently stated that, until someone else wins it, they are still the Eastern Conference champs. Technically true, but with LeBron in L.A., they are unlikely to even make the playoffs.
- 7D [“CBS This Morning” co-anchor O’Donnell] NORAH – Who watches CBS in the morning??
- 29D [Olive Oyl’s guy] POPEYE – There are special edition fountain pens with him on there!
- 39D [“Mary Poppins Returns” actor __-Manuel Miranda] LIN – Has anyone seen this yet? It is at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, much higher than Holmes and Watson‘s 8%!
- 42D [Like some audiobooks] ON CD – Who still uses CDs??
- 56D [Japanese pufferfish] FUGU – Isn’t this the one that is poisonous if not properly prepared? Yummy!
Time to watch more football!