July 18, 2020

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
ART EXHIBIT (16A: Museum display)
SALTWATER FISH (40A: Ocean swimmer)
INDIAN CORN (55A: Sofkey ingredient)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is a homophone for a musical group: EXHIBIT = Xzibit, OUTCAST = OutKast, FISH = Phish, CORN = Korn.
  • Xzibit is a rapper whose debut album was titled At the Speed of Life.
  • OutKast is a former hip hop duo whose debut album was Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. (Great album name!)
  • Phish is a rock band known for musical improv. 
  • Korn is a nu metal band.
Things I learned:
  • RENEE (49A: Actress O'Connor) RENEE O'Connor played the role of Gabrielle on Xena: Warrior Princess. She has also appeared in a number of other TV shows and movies, as well as in theater productions. I'm partial to this answer because RENEE is my middle name as well as my daughter's middle name.
  • INDIAN CORN (55A: Sofkey ingredient) Sofkey is a traditional Native American porridge. It is made from CORN and can be served hot or cold. Depending on the consistency, which varies, sofkey may be eaten with a spoon like soup, or drunk as a beverage.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • BETSY (34A: Alternative to Liz) Is there a name with more derivations and nicknames than Elizabeth? In addition to Liz and BETSY, variations include Beth, Liza, Elly, Izzy, Libby, and Bess, just to name a few.
  • ORE (4D: Rocky resource in Catan) Like the clue for WHEAT in the puzzle on July 4, this is a reference to the board game Settlers of Catan. There are five types of resources in Catan and we've now seen two referenced to the game (since I began blogging about the puzzle). Can we collect a whole set?
  • REBA (46D: McEntire in the Country Music Hall of Fame) In addition to singing, songwriting, and producing records, REBA has also appeared in movies and on TV, including starring in her own TV sitcom, REBA. She has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, and is sometimes referred to as "The Queen of Country."
  • EDIE (50D: Falco who played Carmela Soprano) EDIE Falco also played the role of Officer Diane Whittlesey in the HBO series, Oz.
  • NORA (51D: Romance writer Roberts) NORA Roberts was the first writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. NORA Roberts is a pen name, shortened from her birth name of Eleanor Marie Robertson, which NORA adopted, she says, because she assumed that all romance authors had pen names.
Geography review:
  • ASIA (10D: Europe neighbor) Here's our crossword friend, ASIA! The continent of ASIA accounts for about 30% of Earth's total land area and is home to the majority of Earth's human population.
  • IOWA (30D: Its capital is Des Moines) Hello from IOWA! 
I really enjoyed this puzzle. I seemed to be on the right wavelength for the clues today, and there were many that I enjoyed. NBA (51A: Org. with dunks) made me smile, as did TWENTY (41D: Number of questions in a guessing game). The fill was smooth and I didn't have any rough spots. I had the title, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, in mind as I was solving, but the theme didn't leap out at me. There are many times I don't see the theme until I'm finished though, so I wasn't too worried. Well, to be honest, I was a little worried, because one of my fears since I started this blog has been that I would not be able to figure out a puzzle's theme and then I would not know what to write! I guess I can stop worrying about that now, as today it happened. Fortunately, I threw my plight out to crossword Twitter, and they came through. Special thanks to Will Nediger for shedding light on the theme so that I am able to share that enlightenment with you. Knowing the theme and looking at it now, it's clever! I admire it, but probably would not have ever figured it out on my own, since I'm not familiar with some of these musical groups. Fortunately, not knowing the theme didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the puzzle, and it's nice to know crossword Twitter is there for days like these!