July 14, 2020

Title: INK IN
Constructors: Brooke Husic & Evan Kalish
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MARGARET ATWOOD (21A: Canadian author of speculative fiction such as "The Handmaid's Tale")
ONE DAY AT A TIME (26A: 2017 reboot starring Justina Machado)
UPSTATE NEW YORK (4D: Home to many Haudenosaunee)
GRETA THUNBERG (16D: Fridays for Future activist)
STATUTE (48A: Law)
DICTATE (39D: Employ voice-to-text software)
TAT (24A: Bit of ink)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer has a bit of INK IN it, in the form of the letters T-A-T. 

And now a word from our constructors:
Evan: So, I’d been watching “The Handmaid’s Tale” and wanted to put 21-Across in a puzzle. I noticed this little theme idea could also feature 16-Down, and 26-A… but it just wasn’t all clicking. I invited Brooke to become involved and am pleased with the result. I loved that we had four different divisions of TAT (T/AT, TA/T, T/A/T, TAT).
Once Brooke laid out the skeleton I was able to hammer the rest of the grid into place. This grid was TORTURE to develop. Somehow it worked out—so nicely, in fact, that we could even throw in two extra theme entries at 39-D/48-A. Brooke took the lead on the clues.

Brooke: I hope you enjoy puzzle 2 of n featuring a quadruple intersection among the theme entries! Many thanks to Evan for reaching out to me with this theme idea, and major props to him for filling the grid around my theme set layout (and for inserting two bonus theme entries!). When browsing the internet for cluing inspiration, I found that 21-Across deliberately calls her work "speculative fiction" because it "could really happen."
Black trans lives matter! Please consider supporting orgs such as For the Gworls and the Okra Project if you are able.

Things I learned:
  • ROTI (19A: Buss up shut, e.g.) ROTI is an unleavened flatbread. Buss up shut is a variety of ROTI that derives its name from "busted-up shirt" in reference to the bread's resemblance to a torn shirt. Buss up shut is frequently served at weddings and other special occasions in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • AREN'T (18A: Nikita Gill's "People ___ Homes") Nikita Gill is a poet and writer who uses social media to engage with readers. You can find "People AREN'T Homes" (and many of her other works) on her Instagram page.
  • UPSTATE NEW YORK (4D: Home to many Haudenosaunee) Haudenosaunee, meaning "People of the Longhouse," is the name Iroquois people use to refer to themselves. 
  • SPAM (12D: Musubi meat) SPAM musubi is a popular dish in Hawaii. A slice of grilled SPAM is placed on top of a block of rice (or between two blocks of rice) and then wrapped with nori (edible seaweed). SPAM has been a popular food in Hawaii since after World War II when it was a main course for troops stationed there.
  • EZRA (34D: Musician Furman) Ezra Furman provided the soundtrack for the 2019 Netflix show Sex Education. EZRA Furman and her band also appeared in episode 7 of the first season of the show. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • MARGARET ATWOOD (21A: Canadian author of speculative fiction such as "The Handmaid's Tale") I find "speculative fiction" to be a provocative and chilling term!
  • ONE DAY AT A TIME (26A: 2017 reboot starring Justina Machado) I've heard good things about it, but I haven't seen the reboot. However, the original series on which the reboot was based ran from 1975 to 1984, and I watched it a lot. At that time you had to plan to watch the show when it was aired - no recording or streaming options! ONE DAY AT A TIME was also one of my dad's favorite sayings, so I've heard this theme answer many, many times.
  • ZOE ("The Big Sick" actress Kazan) ZOE portrayed Emily Gardner in The Big Sick. ZOE Kazan also wrote and starred in the movie Ruby Sparks.
  • AMONG (3D: Margaret Peterson Haddix's "___ the Hidden") AMONG the Hidden is the first of seven novels in the Shadow Children series. The series tells of a dystopian country suffering a food shortage and the effects of the totalitarian governments efforts to control resources. Families are limited to two children, forcing any additional children to live hidden lives.
  • GRETA THUNBERG (16D: Fridays for Future activist) GRETA THUNBERG is a Swedish activist
    who has worked to bring attention to the effects of climate change. She was named the Person of the Year by Time in 2019, and is the youngest person to have received that honor. Back in October 2019, when we could gather safely in large groups, I was fortunate to see GRETA THUNBERG speak in person when she visited Iowa City. 
  • USA (52D: Letters on a Crystal Dunn jersey) Crystal Dunn is a member of the USA women's national soccer team. She also plays for the North Carolina Courage in the National Women's Soccer League.
Geography review:
  • ASIA (56A: Cambodia's continent) Hello, ASIA, it's been a couple of days since we've seen you! Cambodia is a country in Southeast ASIA. Its capital is Phnom Penh.
  • SLAV (48D: Montenegrin, e.g.) Montenegro is  a European country on the Adriatic Sea. Its neighbors are Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Croatia. The capital of Montenegro is Podgorica.
What a fun puzzle! Did you notice that this puzzle has diagonal symmetry? Most crossword puzzles have 180-degree rotational symmetry, meaning that if you turn the puzzle upside down, the grid looks the same as it does right side up. Some puzzles have left-right mirror symmetry. This puzzle is symmetrical along a diagonal axis. If you folded the puzzle along the diagonal from the top left to bottom right, the black squares would match up. This type of layout allows for the impressive interlock of the four longest theme answers. Super fun bonus to find the mini-revealer of TAT at the intersection of those four long theme answers!
There was a lot to like in this puzzle. The theme answers were interesting; looking back at what I've written I realize that I highlighted all four of the long theme answers. I appreciated the choice to add some bonus theme answers in the lower right of the puzzle, as otherwise this would have been a sizable chunk of the puzzle without any theme. The cluing was informative and inclusive. An extremely enjoyable solve.