July 17, 2020

Constructor: Gail Grabowski
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MILITARY BRASS (20A: High-ranking officers)
PREVAILING WINDS (38A: Easterlies, e.g.) 
PULLED STRINGS (54A: Used one's influence to gain an advantage)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each them answer describes a section IN THE ORCHESTRA: BRASS, WINDS, STRINGS.

Things I learned:
  • SALAD (9D: According to some food theorists, chicken soup is one) Wow, did I go down a rabbit hole trying to find the explanation for this answer! If you have some insight on this, please leave a comment, email me, or tweet at me! I found a web page (whose author I couldn't easily identify) that details an extensive "Salad Theory" and concludes, "Chicken soup is obviously a salad, even by fairly restrictive definitions (such as being able to mix it without noticing a difference). It’s essentially a chicken salad with extra dressing." At any rate, this clue made me laugh and also made me feel that perhaps I'm missing out on some widely known cultural joke! Oh, I also found a recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup Salad that mixes a can of chicken noodle soup with cream cheese, mayonnaise, gelatin, celery, green pepper, green onion, pimiento, and shrimp. I will not be trying this recipe.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HEAD (1A: Be in charge of) and LED (24A: Was in charge of) Nice present/past clue pairing.
  • LENA (23A: "Chocolat" actress Olin) LENA Olin won a British Academy Film Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Josephine Muscat in the movie, Chocolat. LENA Olin also played the role of Claire in the film, The Artist's Wife, which was scheduled to be released in April 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • PREVAILING WINDS (38A: Easterlies, e.g.) For some reason, the first several times I read this clue, my mind interpreted it as "Easter lilies." I was so confused! Ah, yes, easterlies can indeed be prevailing winds.
  • A LIE (51A: Two truths and ___) Two truths and A LIE is game frequently used as an icebreaker or get-to-know-you-better activity. Each participant makes three statements about themselves - two are true and one is A LIE. The rest of the group tries to identify the false statement. In my experience, this game can be a great deal of fun, but also I feel a lot of pressure to fabricate an interesting lie about myself! One time when I was part of a group writing youth curriculum, the editor sent the group a message that until further notice, no more "two truths and A LIE" activities were to be written. Apparently everyone had thought that was a good activity and it had become a bit overused.
  • LEMON PEEL (35D: Iced tea garnish) I wanted this to be LEMON WEDGE or LEMON SLICE, neither of which fit, obviously. Apparently I don't frequent fancy enough restaurants.
Geography review:
  • ARI (29D: The Grand Canyon State, on scoreboards) The Grand Canyon is in Arizona. This answer did ELICIT (48D: Bring forth) some SIGHS (9A: World-weary sounds) because our family was supposed to visit the Grand Canyon in April of this year as a graduation trip celebration for my daughter, Leah, who received her Master's Degree in Child Life last December. Obviously, that trip had to be postponed (SIGH), but thanks for indulging my taking this opportunity to brag about my daughter.
IN THE ORCHESTRA, one finds instruments from different families, including STRINGS, BRASS, woodWINDS, and percussion. I miss the presence of the percussion in today's theme set.  I recognize the difficulty in finding a phrase incorporating the word percussion. Perhaps percussion instruments could have been interspersed in the puzzle as bonus theme answers? It's a minor thing, and I still enjoyed the puzzle. With the exception of the SALAD clue, it was fairly straightforward.


  1. Re: iced tea garnish. I've never seen lemon peel used with iced tea. Lemon is served with iced tea for the sole purpose of allowing one to put some lemon juice in one's iced tea for flavor. Lemon peel or zest is for some cocktails / mixed drinks. There are multiple other clues for this answer. It's not a clever or tricky clue if it's wrong.


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