NYT Crossword 12-22-20 Complete

After a Monday in the mid-80s, today’s high is supposed to be in the upper 60s. And with a fire weather watch, it’s good that there’s a nonzero possibility of precipitation later this week.

I pulled out 33D Hawaii’s state bird: NENE because I wish they had a clue one day that wrapped around the grid that was Hawaii’s state fish: HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUA‘A. There are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet. Of course, it’s more complicated than that because they use the macron and the open single quote for lengths of words and stops within a word, respectively.

In a surprise to no one, the University of Hawaii has a whole writeup about this, that includes:

Why is correct Hawaiian orthography important?
Because these sounds are significant in Hawaiian, they can determine the meaning of words. A commonly cited example is a set of short words:
pau: finished
pa‘u: soot
pa‘ū: damp
pā‘ū: skirt
Without the ‘okina and kahakō, the distinction between meanings would be unclear.

Since the open single quote is not an apostrophe, smart quotes– the curly quotes which are annoying to me always because I’ve seen documents with a mix of smart quotes and straight quotes as well as books that have smart quotes in the wrong direction–really screw things up here because it’s hard to do an open single quote in the middle of a word. However, straight quotes should be fine to use in all situations, right?

This puzzle’s theme was a dream. And the funky puzzle shape was an interesting way to show nine days left of the year.

18A Rapture: SHEERBLISS.
59A Comforting mental state: HAPPYPLACE.
4D Heaven: SHANGRILA.
31D Realm of marvels: WONDERLAND.
24A With this puzzle’s central black squares, ecstasy: CLOUD and then the nine from the black squares.

Finished this one in 9:10.

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