Constructor Bruce Venzke conveyed some sad news:
“It’s with a very heavy heart that I inform everyone in the crossword community that we have lost a most remarkable figure in puzzle construction with the passing of Gail Grabowski on Christmas eve in Peru, Illinois. Her husband Gary was with her, and the end of her battle for life was peaceful.
I was immensely privileged to have collaborated with her on over 175 puzzles over the past 10 years, most in the Los Angeles Times and The Crosswords Club. But Gail was an indefatigable constructor, and also had many hundreds of solo puzzles in Newsday, USA Today, CrosSynergy, and several other markets. She did all the cluing on our collaborations, and her fine work made her a particular favorite with the L.A. Times Crossword Corner bloggers.
She will be sorely missed by editors, collaborators, and solvers alike.”
The Fireball is on hiatus through the end of the year. And like last week, the Thursday WSJ puzzle is the weekly contest appearing a day early because of the holiday.
David J. Kahn’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
Well, here it is, the final NYT puzzle of 2020.
David J. Kahn has prepared a tribute to SMALL BUSINESSES (7D, “Local economy makeup … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme”), and it manifests in four squares that affect four sets of clues:
- 19A: Broker’s request for funds — MARG[IN C]ALL
- 4D: Diner or sleeper — TRA[IN C]AR
- 26A: Digital currency — BIT[CO]IN
- 8D: Faces of the digital age? — EMOTI[CO]NS
- 38A: Epic collapse — ME[LTD]OWN
- 31D: Winner of a record 26 Oscars — WA[LT D]ISNEY
- 46A: Highlighter of tihs clue? — SPE[LL C]HECK
- 40D: Violently temperamental sorts — HE[LLC]ATS
We’ve got four common abbreviations for businesses (INC, CO, LTD, and LLC) crammed into the small space of one rebus square each. Small businesses! I totally figured that’s what was going on as soon as I hit 7D, but that didn’t stop me from tripping myself up trying to figure out what phrases could accommodate LLC and LTD. Overall, this is nicely constructed but didn’t blow me away like some other Thursdays this year.
53A: “Like Haydn’s Symphony No. 12” — IN E
- I love that Mahershala ALI‘s Oscar wins have propelled him to the top of the list for cluing that particular triad of letters.
- Today I learned that there are approximately 7 glasses of wine in a LITER. I wonder who did the pouring.
- “A one-hit Wonder he’s not” — STEVIE Wonder has had 10 Billboard number ones, and 25 Grammy wins on top of that, including winning Album of the Year for three consecutive albums in a span of four years.
See you in 2021!
Brad Wilber & Richard Shlakman’s LA Times crossword–Gareth’s summary
There are 4! or 24 ways to arrange the letters COIN. Five are found here. There was a decision to go for six examples (two intersecting pairs) and two more acrosses with a short revealer, rather than four or five examples and say COINTOSS. I’m not totally sure which makes the better puzzle. Even though BINOCULARS was personally targeted, I enjoyed the answers like SUCTIONCUP, CARSONCITY & DAYINCOURT more where the letters span the parts of the answer. I’m a non-American, but have vaguely heard of MENDOCINO county, in the Redwood Empire. Nice to see some “local” content in the LA Times!
- [“Stress cannot exist in the presence of ___”: Mamet], APIE was particularly mystifying given I read it as painter Manet.
- [Afghan constitution?] for YARN was particularly clever clew. I decided YAPS might make sense – as in the dog breed?
- I didn’t know celebrity chef Ray spelt her name RACHAEL.
- I call BS on a SYST being a [Betting aid: Abbr.]; you wouldn’t refer to that system as a “syst.” Personally, I’d run a mile from using that entry, convenient as it is.