“Launch Party”

[.puz][PDF][Solution]

Remiss! I am remiss. Last week when I was telling you about Jessie‘s NYT debut *and* her subsequent solo debut in the Universal crossword, I failed to mention the third (!) print puzzle of her print debut week. It’s perhaps my favorite of the bunch, and it will be included in Common Cause‘s December newsletter. I recommend giving it a solve; it’s a delightful theme. Jessie rules.

You can also find a Sunday #rossword in today’s (12/20) L.A. Times: solve online here.

N.B.: that’s the last L.A. Times puzzle you’ll see from me. A couple of weeks ago they ran a Woody Allen tribute puzzle that I found pretty distasteful considering the allegations surrounding that man. While reasonable people can disagree about how writers, crossword makers, and commentators handle the credibly accused, I see no reason whatever to make such people the centerpiece of a newspaper game. (I asked the editor to preempt today’s puzzle, but he said that it was too late to replace it.)

That being said, I’m ambivalent about this decision. I have several thoughtful feminist colleagues who publicly disapproved of the Woody Allen puzzle and decided to keep their own grids in rotation there, which sounds totally reasonable as well. I’m eager to continue a good faith discussion over what’s good/right here, and would welcome your comments.

Thoughts and spoilers for “Launch Party” after the jump.

This is a celebration!

Today’s puzzle was inspired by a clip I saw of OSU star Samantha Show (what a name!) celebrating a home run with, well more of a “bat chop” than a BAT FLIP. Awesome.

The construction was pretty involved for two reasons. On the one hand, there aren’t *that* many words that hide T-A-B (and that don’t duplicate the word TABLE). And on the other, I wanted to pretty faithfully represent the ARC of a bat flipping through the air. I figured from the start it would necessitate the mirror symmetry layout you see. My only major regret is that there wasn’t a great way to lengthen the first/last themers in BATH and STAB.

My disappointment was mitigated by the lovely found poetry in the clue for RACKET ABUSE: [Violation that might come to a head in court?] — bam!

Happy solving, friends.

-Ross

12 thoughts on ““Launch Party”

  1. Very artistic rendering of a bat flip, liked that a lot. It’s like stop-motion photography, but with letters! BTW, it’s a much less interesting debate than that over Woody Allen, but baseball pitchers find showy bat flips disrespectful, like bragging & gloating. I don’t know if that’s a feature of softball as well. The next time the offending batter comes to the plate he will often get a “bowtie”. (Might be fun to have that word in a puzzle with a baseball-themed clue sometime.)

    1. Hey, Rich. Personally, I love the drama around what constitutes respect/disrespect between pitchers and hitters. The subtleties of yes: fist pumping, jumping up and down, etc., and no: tossing one’s bat aside … well, complexities abound. And this “bowtie” terminology is new to me. Storing that one away for later, with gratitude!

      1. On that subject, one of baseball’s unwritten rules, a violation of which is a tremendous disrespect to a pitcher, is: NEVER step on the pitcher’s mound. Not even (or especially) if you’re Alex Rodriguez. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/alex-rodriguez-walks-on-m_n_549634. If you’re the pitcher and you subsequently throw a perfect game, Grandma gets involved. https://www.espn.com/new-york/mlb/news/story?id=5175924.

        None of that has anything to do with crosswords, though, so maybe this is of limited interest to other readers…

  2. But, back on the subject you asked about: I agree, I don’t think the LAT should have published that puzzle. The question of whether one can appreciate the artistry of an disreputable artist is an old one.
    Personally I think you can: many of Woody Allen’s movies are wonderful, as are some of Roman Polanski’s, as are Wagner’s operas, etc. (And, baseball redux, I greatly respect Babe Ruth’s & Ty Cobb’s oeuvres while being disgusted by their bigotry, wife-abuse, etc.) But that doesn’t excuse the LAT: the puzzle doesn’t cast any light on his works, it’s really just a list of them, so therefore it’s not about the works; it’s about him – and why celebrate him? (I’d feel differently if they ran a compendium of all their old reviews of his films.)

    Having said that, I’d suggest walking back what you phrased as a permanent boycott of the LAT. Put them in the penalty box for a year or something, send them a strong signal, but then allow for redemption, particularly if they acknowledge their error. (Disrespected pitchers only bowtie the offending batter once…)

    1. This all makes sense to me, Rich. I’ll revisit my relationship with the LAT eventually. The editor did in fact address the response… I’m trying to find an online version to link to. TK.

  3. I was going to complain (bitterly, even archly! 😜) about the use of KUDO as a “Bit of praise” … and then I looked it up: it’s a back-formation from the (singular) Greek word KUDOS and it’s been appearing in print for at least 70 years (almost as long as I’ve been alive!). So … hush my mouth … 😜

    1. You know, KUDO was *not* my favorite answer in this puzzle, though I’m glad I used it since it afforded me the opportunity to learn the Greek (!) etymology of KUDOS, which tickles me no end. Thanks!

  4. How many band-aids did you need after 55A? 😆

    I loved 64A. I had a chance to see humpbacks bubble-net feeding once. Amazing.

    I’m with Rich: perhaps you don’t need to boycott the LAT forever. And thanks for this puzzle!

    1. You don’t want to know, Jean. I will say though, seeing a cat with such spunk and personality soaking wet–reducing her to the profile of, well, kind of a malnourished rodent–did have significant humor value. Not enough for me to try it again, however…

  5. Gee, dude. One “J” and you would have hit for the cycle. Great solve anyway. And 100% behind you on the Woody Allen thing. Go back but after a respectable amount of time.

    1. Ah! I don’t often think about the “pangram.” Sometimes I go out of my way to work Q’s into a puzzle, but hitting all 26 letters rarely seems worth the attending trade-offs…

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