July 6, 2020

Constructor: Stella Zawistowski
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SEESAW MECHANISM (20A: Physics model for neutrino masses)
SLIDE PROJECTORS (36A: Old-school presentation aids)
SWINGS AND MISSES (48A: Makes a failed attempt)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer - SEESAW, SLIDE, and SWINGS - might be found AT THE PLAYGROUND.

Things I learned:
  • SEESAW MECHANISM (20A: Physics model for neutrino masses) I'm guessing not too many people were able to fill this answer in without any crosses. From Wikipedia: "In the theory of grand unification of particle physics, and, in particular, in the theories of neutrino masses and neutrino oscillation, the SEESAW MECHANISM is a generic model used to understand the relative sizes of observed neutrino masses, of the order of eV, compared to those of quarks and charged leptons, which are million of times heavier." If you understood that sentence, you don't need me to explain SEESAW MECHANISM to you! I'm fine with the phrase appearing in the crossword. It's a fun phrase, and was easy to figure out from crossing answers and from the theme.
  • PBS (30A: "Amanpour & Company") Amanpour & Company is a late-night interview show on PBS about global affairs. It is hosted by Christiane Amanpour. Clues that require one to know which network airs a show are always a challenge for me. (Here's my confession: My house has been TV-free since 1994.) Fortunately, the options are limited and can usually be deduced once one or two crossing answers have been filled in. 
  • RUN (41A: Compete like Eliud Kipchoge) Eliud Kipchoge holds the world record for the marathon with a time of 2:01:39. Think about that - on September 16, 2018 he ran 26.2 miles in just over two hours. Wow. Kipchoge has RUN a marathon distance in just under two hours, but it was not at an open event, and therefore didn't count as a new record.
  • LORI (11D: ___ Grimes ("The Walking Dead" character)) The Walking Dead is a comic book series that was adapted for TV. In the TV series, LORI Grimes is portrayed by Sarah Wayne Callies.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SHIA (35A: Second-largest branch of Islam) The largest branch of Islam is Sunni.
  • HANDS (42A: Contents of gloves) There are many possible ways to clue HANDS - this one made me smile.
  • ODORS (60A: Unpleasant scents) and AROMA (6D: Pleasant scent) A nice balance of scents. (Providing a scents-ably balanced puzzle?)
  • TREE (65A: Sequoia National Park sight) I always appreciate seeing National Park clues. The
    TREE referred to here is the giant sequoia after which the park is named. It occurs to me that calling a giant sequoia a TREE is a bit like calling the Sistine Chapel a church; it's technically true, but doesn't fully encompass the impressiveness. Giant sequoia TREEs are amazing! While not the oldest living trees, some of them are over 3,000 years old. Giant sequoias are the largest known, living TREE on earth. (They are not the tallest, though they are tall, but are the largest by volume.) Here's a picture of my husband and I standing beside the largest TREE in Sequoia National Park. The circumference of this TREE at the ground is over 102 feet, and the TREE stands over 274 feet tall. As you can tell, this clue led me down memory lane.
  • GAZE (7D: Female ___ (film theory concept)) Today we have the female GAZE to balance the male GAZE from the June 28 puzzle!
Geography review:
  • LAD (34A: Edinburgh young'un) and SCOT (48D: Edinburgher, e.g.) Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and Scotland's second most populous city. (Glasgow is larger.)
  • OSLO (33D: Capital of Norway) OSLO is the most populous city in Norway. OSLO received the European Sustainable City Award in 2003 and has set a goal of becoming a low carbon city by attempting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 95% from 1990 levels by 2030. 
A breezy puzzle with a playful theme to start the week! I appreciated the extra touch of the alliteration of the theme answers. (I'm partial to the letter S!) SWINGS AND MISSES is a delightful phrase and I am old enough to remember SLIDE PROJECTORS being used in school. Solid fill with some clues that taught me a few things and others that brought back memories.