Saturday, December 19, 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020, Caitlin Reid and Andrew J. Ries


Have you all heard about the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that is happening in the next day? Apparently they will appear to come closer to each other than they have in 800 years. I find it amusing that an astronomer had to specifically allay people's fears that the two planets were actually going to collide. According to the New York Times, the best time to view it will be about 30 minutes after sunset tomorrow.

Today's puzzle is also a fine conjunction, here, of constructors rather than heavenly bodies (no offense to Ms. Reid or Mr. Ries). This is an amazingly smooth themeless. I found only OKED to sniff at, and even that is fine.

I'm assuming the seed entry to this grid was 7D: The "she" of "Nevertheless, she persisted" (ELIZABETHWARREN). Funny that this statement, taken up by Progressives as evidence of the kind of spine the Democratic party has often been accused of lacking, was made by Mitch McConnell. It's only the second time this crossword friendly 15-letter senator has made it into the NYT puzzle. The last was five years ago. 

My favorite C/AP comes at 35A: Common material for a jacket (ABOUTTHEAUTHOR). That is a nice piece of misdirection. But I'll also note other fine examples, such as:

9A: Ones holing up in closets? (MOTHS) - this is just the sort of clue that deserves a question mark - you have to reinterpret a word in a punny way to get it to make sense.

19A: Round trips? (ORBITS) - here, the question mark puts a different spin on it, as it were. It's true that an orbit is already a full trip around and back to the start, but they also describe circles.

20D: Wax figure? (TUSSAUD).

58A: Not again! (ONCE). These types of exclamatory clues are fun.

There's a mini-ancient Greece theme with BEAR, ERATO, and ORESTES. I love BELIKETHAT and ONEMANARMY.

This is an excellent puzzle, nicely rounding out the turn. Tomorrow, Horace takes back over. Happy Holidays everyone, and see you in the new year!

- Colum


  1. 32:18
    I hope that the NYT was taking the predicted cloudy skies on Monday into account when it mentioned that tomorrow (Sunday) would be the best time to view the conjunction. Jupiter will pass just 0.1 degree south of Saturn at around 9:00 AM EST on the 21st (Monday), so a half-hour after sunset on Monday is theoretically the best time to view the meeting. However, given the weather predictions around here (in MA), tonight will be the closest we'll see the pair. However, it won't be historically close tonight. And yes, people can relax about a collision since Saturn is about twice the distance from the Sun as is Jupiter. I was looking forward to seeing both planets and four or five of the brightest moons in the same telescope field on Monday, but alas. Well, the puzzle was a nice one. I ZIPS through most of it, but the SE slowed me down a little. I had __OUT_HEAUT___ for a long while where ABOUTTHEAUTHOR belongs, and had I filled that out more quickly the SE would have fallen more easily, but that's what a Saturday is all about. Also, over in the SW I tried COHOrT off of a few of the letters, so the STRIPSTEAK didn't come in too fast. My final letter was the "C" of the MAC/ONCE cross. I really wanted Ohno, but TYKE persisted, as did ELIZATETHWARREN, and then I eventually saw the ONCE and understood MAC. Did I mention that I worked for a few years at the local McDonalds? Now, of course, Sue and I enjoy the occasional Big Fac (with plant-based burgers) with homemade fries and, sometimes, homemade Shamrock Shakes. Mmmm. ORBITS are ellipses (Kepler's First Law of Planetary Motion), but I guess we can call them round.

  2. 10:44
    Hey, I saw on "The Bite" yesterday that McDonalds is finally getting in on the plant-based game, and they'll offer not only plant-based burgers, but also plant-based "meats" in their breakfast sandwiches. This is great news, because the mcmuffin with bacon was one of my favorite breakfasts to get on a long road-trip. It's probably been at least 15 years, maybe 20, since I've had one, though. Mmmm... those were so goooood.

    Anyway, yeah, this was another really nice themeless. Dropping in the Senator helped a lot, and also knowing NUIT (Dark period for Monet) (Nice) and remembering that TURNT was a thing. One thing I didn't know before today? - Male kangaroos are called BOOMERS. Interesting.

    1. Where do they cook the plant-based meats, though? That's the problem. I assume they don't set aside grill space just for those, so they're no doubt swimming in the filthy grease from the dirty cow burgers. My go-to breakfast when we embark on a trip is an egg & cheese McMuffin, hash brown and OJ. Just before boarding, I take a lorazepam while sipping the OJ, into which I add three ounces of vodka. That sets me up for a nice flight.

    2. I agree that grill space is a problem and a serious concern. No matter what Micky D's says, I would want to see live video of any plant-based grilling all the way from freezer to bagging. And ideally, I'd like a certified history of the item before freezing, too, along with a list of ingredients.

      The long and the short of it is that I probably will not be buying anything from a McDonald's in the near future other than a coffee, and even then, not if there are other options.

    3. One good thing about the above discussion is that I've decided to make an Egg McMuffin (with Canadian facon) at home for Sue and me, complete with hash browns and OJ. We already make Big Facs and McFicken sandwiches on occasion, and I've perfected an approximation of their fries that I make from scratch. Soon I'll be able to offer the entire menu.