July 12, 2020

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
GROUND PORK (16A: Popular jiaozi filling)
COLOR GUARD (58A: Flag-carrying team)
GOLD GLOVES (10D: MLB fielding awards)
STATE VISIT (27D: Trip for a country's leader)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer can follow the word SOLID to form a new phrase: SOLID GROUND, SOLID COLOR, SOLID GOLD, SOLID STATE.

Things I learned:
  • EAST LA (25A: SoCal area where the Chicano Blowouts took place) The EAST Los Angeles Walkouts, or Chicano Blowouts, were a series of protests in 1968. Chicano students walked out in protest of unequal conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District high schools. Chicano, or Chicana, is a chosen identity for people of Mexican descent born in the United States. During the course of the protests, an estimated 15 to 20,000 high school students walked out of seven schools in EAST LA.
  • YOKO (9D: Video game composer Shimomura) YOKO Shimomura is a composer and pianist who has composed soundtracks for over 60 video games, including the Kingdom Hearts series and Mario & Luigi series. Some of her works have been performed in video game music concerts and published as albums. It's nice to learn about YOKO Shimomura! And it's refreshing to see YOKO clued in a new way.
  • WES (31D: "How to Get Away With Murder" student) How to Get Away with Murder is a legal thriller TV series about a law professor who, with five of her students, becomes involved in a murder plot. WES is played by Alfred Enochs.
  • TART (41D: Like the taste of umeboshi) Umeboshi are pickled ume fruits common in Japan. Ume is a fruit related to the apricot. Umeboshi are TART due to their high citric acid content.
  • ARIA (56D: Jessye Norman delivery) Jessye Norman was an opera singer and recitalist. Her many notable performances include singing at the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the second inauguration of Bill Clinton, and Queen Elizabeth II's 60th birthday celebration.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GMS (10A: Chess greats, for short) The title of Grandmaster is awarded to chess players by the world chess organization. Once achieved, the title is held for life, except in cases where it has been revoked for cheating!
  • GROUND PORK (16A: Popular jiaozi filling) Jiaozi are a kind of dumpling commonly eaten in parts of East Asia. The dumplings consist of ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped in a thinly rolled piece of dough. Jiaozi may be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, or added to soup. Pan-fried jiaozi are also known as potstickers.
  • TALE (48A: Cautionary ___) Cautionary TALE is such a great phrase. It reminds me of the song from the Broadway version of Mean Girls, A Cautionary TALE. "It's a cautionary TALE of fear and lust and pride/ Based on actual events where people died/ No one died."
  • PAINTER (50A: Frida Kahlo or Georgia O'Keefe) Two fabulous painters and a great example of making a choice to clue inclusively. While "Van Gogh or Van Dyck" and Manet or Monet" are valid clues for PAINTER (that have appeared in past mainstream crosswords), it's nice to see acknowledgment that not all well-known PAINTERs are male.
  • MOOSE (11D: Deer with a dewlap) A dewlap is the flap of skin that hangs beneath the lower jaw. As always, I am amused to be reminded that MOOSE and deer are in the same family.
  • NOW WHAT (23D: "Another problem?!") If 2020 had a motto...
  • ECON (51D: Anna Schwartz's subj.) Anna Schwartz was an economist and a writer for the New York Times. She collaborated with Milton Friedman on A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960.
  • DUET (54D: "My Boo," e.g.) "My Boo" is a DUET by Usher and Alicia Keys.
Geography review:
  • OHIO (14A: Neighbor of West Virginia) In addition to OHIO, West Virginia's neighbors include Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky. In addition to neighboring West Virginia, OHIO is the birthplace of seven U.S. Presidents, including Rutherford B. Hayes. I mention him specifically, because my maiden name is Hayes, and my dad grew up in OHIO. However, as far as I know, Rutherford B. and I are not related.
  • BOOT (15A: Italy's outline resembles one) It's true, Italy resembles a BOOT, making it one of the countries I can confidently identify on a map!
  • DEL (60D: Costa ___ Sol) Costa DEL Sol, meaning "Coast of the Sun," is a region in southern Spain. Formerly comprised of small fishing settlements, Costa DEL Sol has become a popular tourist destination.
Another SOLID offering from Zhouqin Burnikel. The placement of NOW WHAT in the center of the puzzle delighted me. Smooth fill and interesting cluing made for an enjoyable Sunday morning solve.