Thursday, December 31, 2020

Thursday, December 31, 2020, David J. Kahn

On this, the final day of 2020 we are treated to a rebus puzzle emblazoned with the grid-spanning entry SMALLBUSINESSES, the backbone of local economies and some of those hardest hit by the pandemic. The four theme answers, hinted at by the revealer, contain common business abbreviations compacted into one small square. I caught on to the trick relatively early at 4 Down, "Diner or sleeper," which I knew had to be TRA[INC]AR. The hint to the theme was still three clues away, so at that point, I had no idea what part of the answer should be rebus-ized. My initial public offering was [CAR], but, a due diligence check of the Across answers resulted in a correction, which was confirmed when I hit 7D.

Thanks to the early identification of the rebus, I thought the puzzle was going to be smooth sailing, but as I went along, I found I had used up all my SAVOIR in the north, and my solve started to WORSENS, particularly in the south west. After 10 minutes or so, the rest of the puzzle was complete, but I could get nothing in that corner even after several passes. My eventual break came from the rebus itself. I guessed that the fourth business abbreviation would be LTD so I played around with those letters in that corner until I finally saw WA[LTD]DISNEY ("Winner of a record 26 Oscars) and its Across counterpart, ME[LTD]OWN ("Epic collapse"). Even after that things were looking pretty blank, but then, based on the "and others" in the clue "'Flash Gordon' and others" I added an S in the last square of 36D, which gave me ANTSY at 54A "Squirmy, maybe" and the rest, as they say, is history. :)

Elsewhere in the puzzle, I found many enterprising answers including STAVES, DEMURE, PLY, HE[LLC]ATS, and SPUME - you don't see that everyday. I particularly liked VISAVIS and WINGEDIT.

I thought Huygens might enjoy the "Game of Thrones" clue at 15A, now that he's a veteran of the series. Because GOT was such a big hit, I did try to watch it sometime back, but it didn't seem to be quite my cup of tea - I didn't even make it through the first episode. Maybe I should give it another go, though, to improve my crossword solving abilities. I could make a New Year's resolution for 2021 to up my crossword game. I'll watch GOT, pay more attention to sports, and study world capitals. That ought to do it. :) I'll also look forward to being able to frequent local shops again and enjoying company in the coming year. 



  1. Nicely, nicely done, I think! Low word count, hardly any gluey bits, excellent only problem was not getting how the rebus worked even *after* I got the revealer. Finally, like Frannie, I realized that 4 Down *had* to be TRAIN CAR and when it didn't fit, it dawned on me that today is let's *make* it fit. :-)

  2. 23:05
    Well, Frannie, I did write in EMILIA off of the clue, of course. And as far as the series goes, I am well-known to look away from the screen at any hint of goriness, which I don't enjoy at all, but I found that there was enough fantasy, sci-fi, interpersonal relationship interest, great characters, political rivalries and other intrigue to more than hold my attention over the eight seasons and to make up for the gore and blood when it occurred. The first six seasons each had ten shows, the seventh seven (I think) and the eighth six, for a total of 73 shows, most under an hour save for the final three or four. There were also a number of preconceived prejudices that were overcome on the part of individuals and groups, which was nice. I still think "Breaking Bad" was a better overall series, but it's a matter of nuances. Anyway, I, too, caught on early to the theme and surmised the four most likely rebus squares, which helped quite a bit, even though my time isn't stellar. I used an ARMANI suit at my wedding.

  3. Nice review, Frannie, and a fun puzzle. I also tried to work a "car" rebus at first, but that didn't last long.

    Lots of interesting fill, as you point out. Nice end to a cruddy year.