Hello, everybody! It’s Clare, again for the final Tuesday of December, which feels wild to say. How is it nearly 2023?! It’s been fairly the yr — beginning my first law-related job, studying I’ve to be gluten-free, moving into mountain climbing, watching all of the sports activities attainable, and, after all, persevering with to weblog about crosswords right here with you all. Hope that every one in all you had an important and fulfilling 2022 and that 2023 continues in the identical vein (or is even higher).
As you may anticipate, I’ve been spending this ultimate month of the yr watching World Cup soccer and cheering on the GOAT (Messi, after all; who’d you suppose?) and, like the remainder of this nation, falling a bit in love with USMNT captain Tyler Adams. The Premier League is lastly again, and I gasped in aid at seeing Mo Salah,Virgil van Dijk, and Jordan Henderson all again on the identical pitch. This yr’s iteration of the Steelers is, to place it kindly, a piece in progress, however I used to be rooting for them hardcore on Christmas Eve in opposition to the Raiders within the fiftieth anniversary sport of the Immaculate Reception, particularly as a result of the completely great Franco Harris died only a few days earlier than.
I’ve been sequestered from the unhealthy climate whereas I’m out in California with my household; I hope all of you could have been in a position to keep protected and comfy. I’m sending heat needs your method.
Anywho, on to the puzzle…
Constructor: Lynn Lempel
Relative issue: Medium
THEME: DOUBLE CROSS — (64A: Betray … or a touch to what’s discovered on this puzzle’s shaded squares) — There are 4 shaded crosses within the puzzle the place the intersecting phrases every may very well be positioned after the phrase “double” to type a standard phrase
- STAND AT EASE / SPARKLE (17A: Command for a soldier to loosen up / 6D: Glisten)
- BEAGLE / MAGENTA (34A: Snoopy’s breed / 25D: Reddish purple)
- BILLY / BEANSTALK (Melville’s “____ Budd” / 11D: Means to a goose laying golden eggs, in a fairy story)
- CHINA / DIPLOMACY (39A: Tableware for particular visitors / 33D: Negotiator’s talent)
Word of the Day: MOSELLE (9A: White wine named for the European river valley the place it’s produced) —
A river that rises within the Vosges mountains and flows by means of north-eastern France and Luxembourg to western Germany. It is a left financial institution tributary of the Rhine, which it joins at Koblenz. A small a part of Belgium is in its basin because it contains the Sauer and the Our. Moselle wines are primarily white and are made in a number of the coldest climates used for business winemaking. (Wikipedia)
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I used to be so hoping for a puzzle I may rave about to shut out 2022. And this… isn’t that. I imply, it’s tremendous. It’s inoffensive. It’s form of attention-grabbing. It strikes easily sufficient. But it didn’t give me any of the “aha!” moments I craved.
My foremost subject with the puzzle centered on the theme. I wished some pizazz, however this theme simply fell flat. The positioning of the themers was odd — they’re simply sort of thrown in at random spots with abandon, which implies large sections of the puzzle (aka the underside third of the puzzle) haven’t any theme solutions. Also, interested by the breadth of choices that would have gone alongside “double” after which taking a look at what we obtained was a bit disappointing. Sure, DOUBLE DATE and DOUBLE EAGLE, and many others… work, however why select them amongst an entire host of different choices, comparable to: double entendre, double bother, double whammy, double verify, double shot, double scoop, and many others? Then, the theme didn’t assist with the remedy, as a result of, though I obtained DOUBLE CROSS (64A) simply, I wasn’t utilizing it to return and work out what the shaded sections may probably correspond to.
I hit a snag at 26A: Pretends with LETS ON. The colloquial expression LETS ON to me means one thing a lot completely different from “pretends.” I Googled it, and “pretend” does present up because the second definition for “let on,” however I keep that the phrase means one thing a lot completely different… As my ninth grade English trainer may remind me, connotation and denotation are various things. I additionally had such a tough time getting LETS ON partially as a result of I didn’t know MOSELLE (9D), which strikes me as a barely arduous phrase for a Tuesday (or perhaps I’m simply salty as a result of I like white wine, but this type was not in my vocabulary). It additionally took me a bit to get the “e” for STEREO (10D: Sound improve from mono) however that simply may be on me.
The remainder of the puzzle was first rate. Words comparable to DIPLOMACY, BEANSTALK, DERANGE, RENEGE, CORRAL, LAMENTS, and GRAVEST labored properly and are ones that don’t typically populate an early-week crossword, though, as Lynn Lempel confirmed right here, they simply may.
I seen a mini-theme within the puzzle with animals. There was BAA (11A: Sheepish utterance?) with EMU (16A: Relative of an ostrich) proper beneath it. Then, there was a BEE (42D: Helpful pollinator) within the crossword, CORRAL (50D) was clued with horses, Snoopy a BEAGLE (34A) was nearly smack dab in the midst of the puzzle, and LARVA (52D) was clued as a caterpillar or tadpole.
There was a number of the regular three-letter fill comparable to ALA/LOL/BAA/EMU/FCC/AHA/IRA/SAY that irked me a bit. Some different three-letter fill, SYD/PLY/FAD/AID/PVC, labored a bit higher. ATARI (22D) and OREO (67A) have been different crosswordese. I didn’t know KYD (46A: “The Spanish Tragedy” dramatist Thomas) or NEA (23A), so these threw me for just a few seconds.
- W.H. AUDEN’s (13D) poem “Funeral Blues” might be my favourite poem ever. It’s completely gorgeous. I’ll put simply this stanza beneath, however I encourage you to verify the complete poem out right here.
- “He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday relaxation,
My midday, my midnight, my discuss, my music;
I assumed that love would final without end: I used to be fallacious.”
- My household has a Snoopy decoration all of us struggle over to hold on the Christmas tree, and I obtained to be the individual to hold him on the tree this yr. Then, a day after we embellished the tree, it determined to go timberrrrr… While we had a number of decoration casualties, Snoopy fortunately got here out unscathed.
- SYD (38D) and KYD (46A) crossing one another was enjoyable for a Pittsburgh fan like me. Although I assume the cross wasn’t meant as a reference to “Sid the Kid” Crosby, I considered the Penguin participant who, at 35, won’t be such a “kid” (or KYD) any extra however who continues to be worthy of a great deal of discover.
- I fairly favored the clue/reply for 28D: Org. that oversees court docket battles as NBA. I used to be wracking my mind making an attempt to think about a law-based reply for this (getting as far as placing “ABA” in as the reply) earlier than I spotted what the clue was getting at.
And that’s all from me! Hope everyone seems to be having a contented vacation season and stays protected and heat. See you subsequent month IN 2023!!