Friday, December 27, 2019

LAT 3:41 (Jenni) 


NYT 3:30 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 7:38 (Rachel) 


Universal tk (Rebecca) 


Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 27 19, no. 1227

Lots of goodies in this 68-worder. I think I have a STYE in my eye, so lemme be brief and go get another hot compress.

Did not know: 58a. [Golfer Carol who won the 1965 U.S. Women’s Open], MANN. Not sure I know the names of any women who won golf tournaments before I was born, while SNEAD has been in crosswords for decades. I blame the patriarchy.

Fave fill: ALAN MOORE (my husband was among the many who marveled at how good the recent HBO adaptation of Watchmen is); RED CARPET; FROZEN MARGARITA (make mine on the rocks, with triple sec, no salt); “OH, LORDY”; TEEN MOM; BLOW A KISS; SPANISH FLU (my grandma lost her little sister to it); FELT AT HOME; RARE FORM; BATES MOTEL; START SMALL (advice to budding constructors: Start small with your theme! Don’t try to wrangle five or more theme entries when you’ve never even filled a grid before).

4.25 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup

The New Yorker crossword solution • Elizabeth C. Gorski • December 27, 2019

Well, it appears I have been remiss in my reviewing duties, as the New Yorker has been publishing daily all week and I’m only just now noticing (but I have the flu, so I think that counts as an excuse). Every day this week they’ve released a “Year in Review” puzzle, and today’s is “2019 in Music,” featuring entries and clues that highlight music and artists from the past year.

“Theme” entries:

  • ARIANA GRANDE and her hits THANK U NEXT and “7 Rings”
  • IGGY POP‘s album “Free”
  • HOT GIRL SUMMER from Megan Thee Stallion

  • LIONEL Richie’s album “Hello from Vegas”
  • Madonna’s album MADAME X
  • Youngest-ever Billboard Hot 100 #1 artist BILLIE EILISH

  • Late soprano Jessye NORMAN
  • “The Masked Singer” judge KEN Jeong (is this theme?)
  • The LUMINEERS with a track on the Game of Thrones soundtrack

  • 2019 film “Rocketman” about ELTON John

That’s a lot of theme material! Of course, there is so much to draw from when your theme is an entire year’s worth of music, which makes doubling down on ARIANA GRANDE a somewhat odd choice (not unlike her “7 Rings” tattoo, but I’m not here to make fun of popstars).

The fill is definitely not a clean as we’ve come to expect from New Yorker puzzles, but that is of course what happens when you introduce one of those pesky themes into a grid. That said, I’m not convinced that the fill we get here is truly the best it could have been, even given the themedness of the puzzle (UTIL at 1-A being the worst, but also LLS, ANE, ITAL, REBIDOFID, etc). I did lol @ the clue on LLS (“Cool J, et al.”) for its utter absurdity. Cool J, Bean, and … all those other LLS.

Fill aside, I enjoyed this trip through 2019 music. Several stars for a star-studded puzzle!

David Alfred Bywaters’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up

It’s a sound-alike substitution theme that mostly works.

Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2019, David Alfred Bywaters, solution grid

  • 17a [A vat, some cloth, etc.?] are DYER NEEDS (dire needs). To my ear, this one is a direct homophone.
  • 24a [One in a Mesoamerican cleanup crew?] is a MAYAN SWEEPER (minesweeper). This one sounds a little different (I was raised in NY and have lived mostly in the mid-Atlantic).
  • 38a. Apothecary’s concern? is PHIAL MANAGEMENT (file management). You don’t hear the word PHIAL pronounced all that often. In my head, it sounds exactly like FILE.
  • 47a [Large cat romantically interested in opposite-sex large cats?] is a STRAIGHT LION (straight line). Again not quite the same. Funny!
  • 60a [Surprisingly genteel outbreak of lawlessness?] is a CIVIL RIOT (civil right). Really doesn’t sound alike to me. Plus I don’t think of that term in the singular. It’s CIVIL rights. The Google Ngram viewer agrees with me.

It’s a cute theme idea that doesn’t quite pan out.

A few other things:

  • I don’t know if it was deliberate misdirection to have RISE and RIDE at 1a and 1d, respectively, with RIDE clued as [Lift]. It made the start more challenging than the puzzle was overall.
  • 9a [Comes impressively into view] is LOOMS. I think of something that LOOMS more as ominous than impressive.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard someone say IN A PET in general conversation. Anyone? Bueller?
  • 27d [City near Provo] is LEHI. Since I live in the Lehigh Valley and we have a lot of Biblical place names here, I wondered if there was a connection. I’m sitting about ten miles west of Bethlehem, which is south of Nazareth and east of Egypt. Drive a few minutes south of my house and you’ll be in Emmaus. Anyway, I looked it up, and it appears that “Lehigh” comes from a Lenni Lenape word meaning “forked.” The missionaries heard it as Lehanweking and shortened it to Lehigh. Lehi, Utah, is derived from a Biblical Hebrew word meaning “jawbone,” marking the site where Samson killed 1,000 warriors using only the jawbone of a donkey as a weapon. “Lehi” is also a prophet in the Book of Mormon. {political joke about jawbones and donkeys redacted}
  • 45d [Hitchcock was known for them] are CAMEOS – his uncredited appearances in his films.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of ARNETT Cobb, and I didn’t know that the KNEE was the largest joint in the human body. That didn’t seem relevant during anatomy class, and I am so not an orthopedist.

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7 Responses to Friday, December 27, 2019

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    Spanish flu is a misnomer. In a propaganda battle, the French called it the German flu, while the Germans called it the French flu. Of course, like nearly all influenza, this strain originated in Asia. Spain, a neutral country, was one of the few to openly report high mortality in their press. Many others censored coverage, including the U.S., fearing that acknowledging the outbreak would hurt morale. When Spain’s own king fell ill, the epidemic received huge attention there. But Spain actually had lower mortality rates than the warring countries. Here in the U.S., the combination of high mobility among returning troops and congestion in military camps led to a great tragedy at a time when physicians had no effective treatment. Nowadays, it’s more properly called the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

    • huda says:

      Thank you for clarifying this. I was surprised by the Spanish Flu reference because I think of it as the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. There has been a complicated history of trying to link exposure to this virus in utero to increased odds of schizophrenia. I have to go back and figure out where the research has landed on this topic…

  2. Billy Boy says:

    11 EST and I cannot get the New Yorker?!?!?!? No e-mail, no website, HUH?
    Or is it the MUSIC themed puzzle? Off to do that one,

  3. Billy Boy says:

    The Year in Music Puzzle was indeed it (I am slow today). It was pretty easy but zero heavy groans from me.

    E-mail pop-up from Outlook, (that account is where I get New Yorker e-mail) while I was in-solve, lol.

  4. Stephen B. Manion says:

    Carol Mann would not be on many top 10 lists of great women golfers. The greatest women golfer is generally considered to be Annika Sorenstam who golfed more recently. The greatest female golfer who was also a great athlete is indisputably Babe Didriksen Zaharias.

    The other transcendent female golfers of years gone by are Mickey Wright, Patti Berg and Louise Suggs.


  5. Rey Barry says:

    In 70 years (really) doing NYTimes crossword puzzles I rate the answer DOPE for the clue SWEET! the worst answer ever.

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