Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019, Laura Taylor Kinnel


Hey everybody! Happy first full day of Winter. They only get longer from here until June!

An odd duck of a puzzle today. The revealer is found at 39A: Abstainers ... or the central column's answers vis-à-vis 20-, 39-, 74- and 101-Across, respectively (TEETOTALERS). And what you do, see, is add up the number of times the letter T appears in a long across answer that crosses the down answers in the center column, and they equal each other.

That's a lot of words to explain. Let me sum up:

MULTIPLICATIVEINVERSE crosses 22D: Complement of turtledoves in a Christmas song (TWO). And there are exactly two Ts in the long answer. Get it?

Cleverly, the number increases by one each time, as you move down, until you get the crazy (crazy, I tell you!) FIVE Ts in TUTTIFRUTTI. It's a nice trick, also made more interesting by the nine Ts you find in the black square "grid art" throughout the puzzle.

Still... why these four answers? Well, okay the revealer is necessary, and perhaps it's impressive to have a 21-letter answer with only 2 Ts in it. Or an 11-letter answer with 5 Ts in it. Perhaps I should just move on. Nobody wants to read a review in which I only 3D: Picked nits (DELOUSED).

Some great clues today: I loved 107A: Sheepish (OVINE). How true. Apt, one might say. And 111A: Focus of an egoist's gaze (NAVEL) is also excellent. Two top notch non-QMCs right on top of each other. And 60D: Labor day setting? (DELIVERYROOM) is a very good QMC. Note the lack of a capital letter on "day."

A notable amount of math, including the long answer above, the theme concept, as well as ABSCISSA and the clues for 47A: Speed that would enable a 23-minute D.C.-to-L.A. flight (MACHSIX) and 100D: Prefix for a polygon with 140-degree interior angles (NONA). Fortunately, I didn't have to actually do any calculations for those last two. The crosses did them for me.

I will overlook ISS (International Space Station), REHM (who?), GERALDS and SAMUELS. I enjoyed the puzzle, and that's what we look for every day.

- Colum

P.S. Oh, heck no. After reading Xwordinfo, I find that there are no other Ts in the puzzle outside of those 14 in the theme answers. That's really amazing!


  1. Boy, I'm glad it was your day today, because I didn't know what the hell was going on! I saw the long MULTIPLICATIVEINVERSE and went running to my poetry books to calm down. :) But seriously, it's an odd duck of a Sunday, but it's quite a nice tight theme, once you realize what's going on, and all the things that are involved!

  2. Also a debut! Congratulations, Ms. Kinnel!

  3. 36:56
    I thought it a nice, clean puzzle for the most part. Amazing that those are the only Ts; I, too, didn't really know what was going on until reading Colum's explanation. BABIESRUS - ick. I loved MULTIPLICATIVEINVERSE and THETHEORYOFRELATIVITY (I wanted "general relativity" in there, somehow, but no). Obviously, JAROMIR Jagr (or is it Jagr JAROMIR?) is completely unknown to me.