MONDAY PUZZLE – Good Monday, folks! Today we have a collaboration between Christina Iverson (making her ninth New York Times Crossword appearance) and Andrea Carla Michaels (making her 76th!). I had a lot of fun working out this team effort, and as so often happens when a song plays a major role in a puzzle (not a spoiler, it’s in the clue for 56A!), I ended up with an earworm that I still couldn’t pull off.
To get off the topic for a moment, getting this song stuck in my head made me think about solving while listening to music – does anyone do it successfully? I have tried listening to music while solving, but find that if the song has lyrics, it completely trips my “flow” through a grid. My resolution music should be ambient electronic music or classical music, unless I want the resolution to take much longer than average.
If you to do If you enjoy listening to music while you solve, you might want to check out the “Music to Play NYT Games By” playlist on Spotify, which has songs that relate not only to crossword puzzles, but also to others. New York Times assorted games including spelling.
Now back to the topic in question!
63A. “Preparing for a cruise as a couple? Is a puny clue for ARK because the story of Noah’s ARK offers a boat ride for pairs of animals.
67A. I’ve always thought that deism was just a belief in the existence of a god, in the most general sense, but apparently it’s more specific than that! A DEIST is a “believer in a God who does not intervene”.
1D. “A practical way to communicate, anyway? Is the ASL index (short for American Sign Language). Personally, I try to avoid cutesy cues for ASL, as they kind of feel like they’re downplaying the fact that ASL is a Tongue, not just a way to communicate. Of course, the orthodoxy of crosswords dictates that you cannot have the word that a letter represents in the index of an abbreviation, and under this restriction, builders often find it difficult to write indexes that indicate that ASL is a language.
7D. I didn’t know Margaret Atwood’s novel “ORYX and Crake”, but I was able to get it entirely from the crossings. GASX being a brand name may have made this crossing difficult for some.
13D. I love the ‘Flower and Oyster Places’ clue for PARKS – flowers are in flower PARKS and oysters are found in oyster PARKS, although of course they are flower beds. quite different appearance.
48D. The abbr. you are looking for in “As from the first to the fifth year: Abbr. Is ELEM, short for ELEmentary.
Theme of the day
Today’s theme is revealed at 56A: “1967 hit by the Tremeloes suggested by the 17-, 27- and 46-Across starts”, which is “HERE COME MY BABY”. Sentences in 17A, 27A and 46A all begin with words associated with childbirth, starting with WORKFORCE WEEKEND DAY at 5pm (“Traditional end of summer”). The next theme entry at 27A is TO PUSH THE ENVELOPE (“Dare to exceed the normal limits”), and the final thematic entry is DELIVERY SERVICE at 46A (“FedEx or DHL”).
All together, these thematic entries tell the story of the arrival of a baby, from its entry into LABOR, to the push, to the actual delivery. The person going through this process may, indeed, cry HERE COMES MY BABY at the end, although I doubt that was the scenario the Tremeloes had in mind! There is also a nice bonus in the entry in the middle to the bottom of the puzzle, where EARLY is indicated as “Before due date, say”, which could also apply to a birth.
Not sure if the pig-related entries mini-theme was planned, but it was a nice additional motif that I was happy to notice.
It’s not every Monday (or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday…) that you see four entries of 15 letters in a puzzle! With all four themed entries, including the revealer, spanning the grid, two of which are debuts (46A and 56A), it’s a pretty impressive build feat. There are a couple of spots where the backfill groans a bit from the tension of supporting four 15s, but for the most part the backfill is clean and tidy. Great work, team!
Christina iverson: I contacted Andrea a little over a year ago to see if she would be interested in a collaboration. I love the collaborative process and learned so much from every builder I’ve worked with so it was really fun working with a pro like Andrea!
The idea I originally came up with was much more convoluted, with a few wacky work-related phrases. She suggested making a simpler Monday puzzle, and we came up with that. My daughter was a newborn at the time, so I clearly had childbirth in mind! I also had “Here Comes My Baby” stuck in my head for a long time while this puzzle was in the works!
Andrea Carla Michaels: As Prissy said on GWTW, “I don’t know anything about baby births!” But I know that this collaboration has been a labor of love! Although virtual strangers (no more!), Christina and I discovered that we share Minnesota roots, and we had so much fun and laughs putting it all together. And I love the idea of two women having a baby with no men in sight… how is 2020 ?!
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The tipping point
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