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spoilers ahead for year 2 rows garden #25. spoilers!

so, as you have probably figured out out by now, this was not an honest mistake but rather a little joke on my part. the story behind the joke may be interesting to you.

normally, i start constructing the weekly rows garden puzzle mid-week. the grid is usually done by thursday, and then i spend thursday and friday writing clues so that i can send it to test-solvers over the weekend. this means that usually my current events entries are a week out of date by the time tuesday rolls around and i send the puzzle out. i don't love this delay, but i do love having test-solvers who (often!) catch mistakes in my puzzles, so i regard it as a necessity.

well, this time i decided i was going to roll the dice and "predict" who would win the best picture oscar, since really LA LA LAND seemed like a shoo-in. the betting odds were very very good. (i should note here that the last time i tried this, it backfired spectacularly: i put SERENA WILLIAMS into a grid last year after she had advanced to the finals of the australian open and was a heavy favorite to win her record-tying 22nd major singles title. then she lost to angelique kerber in the finals and i had to change the clue to {2015 Sports Illustrated Sportsprson of the Year}.)

well, it turns out LA LA LAND is an exceptionally difficult entry to shoehorn into a rows garden. a 6-letter answer can usually be a bloom; a 9-letter answer works great in row A; longer answers can usually be slotted in at B1 or B2 and i can find something to go in row A and the rest of B. but 8 is awkward. (7 would be even more awkward.) not only that, whether i put LA LA LAND at the beginning or end of a row, i'd have to find a bloom containing "LAL" and there aren't all that many options.

so, i decided to try to get LA LA LAND into the middle of the grid and just start building from something else. luckily there was another 9-letter best picture nominee that seemed like it was a lock to win at least best adapted screenplay, so i started there and worked my way down. when i sent the original draft of the puzzle to testers, i clued MOONLIGHT as {Best Adapted Screenplay winner at the Oscars (I'm presuming)}, and LA LA LAND as {Best Picture winner at the Oscars (I'm presuming)}.

fast-forward to sunday night, and ... wow, did i luck out. not only did my marquee row A entry actually win best picture, but it did so in hilarious fashion, with the infamous envelope mix-up. since i had both movies in the grid, i couldn't resist having a little fun with the clues. i hope you were amused by the joke.

in conclusion, i'd just like to thank the academy for continuing to honor films with 9-letter titles. :)


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