July 19, 2020

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
WINE DECANTERS (20A: Glass vessels with stoppers)
IT'S A DONE DEAL (27A: "That's that")
ONLINE DEGREE (49A: Distance learning outcome, perhaps)
DRONE DELIVERY (58A: Aerial shipping method)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains the letter string N-E-D-E, spanning two words in the phrase. If you reverse the letter string and read it BACKwards, you find the word EDEN. Therefore, each theme answer contains a BACK GARDEN (of EDEN).

Things I learned:
  • TEA (32A: Yum cha beverage) Yum cha is the Cantonese equivalent of going out for brunch, involving dim sum and tea. People often go to yum cha for celebrations or family get-togethers. 
  • HAVE (37A: "___ several seats") Every once in a while there is a crossword clue that makes me realize I am completely out of touch with modern slang! (See SLAPS in the July 1 puzzle.)  If you understood this clue, you may skip this explanation. However, if you were puzzled about this clue, I can enlighten you. When someone says or does something ridiculous, you might tell them to "take a seat," meaning they need to stop being ridiculous, sit down, and be quiet. If the ridiculousness is excessive, you might instead tell them, "HAVE several seats," inferring that one seat is not enough to contain their ludicrous antics. I wasn't able to pinpoint the origin of this phrase used in this manner, but there are memes and GIFs and videos using the phrase that date back to at least 2015. 
  • IRANIAN (8D: Like Nowruz) Nowruz is the IRANIAN New Year. Nowruz is the day of the vernal equinox and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Nowruz marks the first day of Farvardin, the first month of the IRANIAN calendars.
  • GURUS (52D: Sikhism's 10) GURU Nanak, born in 1469, was the founder of Sikhism. He was succeeded by nine other GURUS. The tenth GURU affirmed the sacred scripture, Adi Granth, as his successor, ending the line of human GURUS. The central religious scripture of Sikhism, GURU Granth Sahib, is regarded as the final, sovereign, and eternal living GURU.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SAT (26A: Used a papasan) A papasan is sometimes called a bowl chair. I used to own a papasan and a double papasan (or mamasan) chair. They are comfortable, but can be tricky to get out of.
  • EVE (48A: Actress Lindley) Hopefully you remembered EVE Lindley from the June 25 puzzle
  • ERIN (69A: Consumer advocate Brockovich) ERIN Brockovich's lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California became the subject of a movie with her name as the title.
  • NPR (29D: Host of Tiny Desk concerts) If you need a diversion, you can spend a lot of time watching NPR's Tiny Desk concerts. They've even hosted Sesame Street for a concert. (And Lizzo,  Taylor Swift, Adele, and so many more!)
  • SOD (41D: Lawn repair material) and SEED (43D: Lawn repair material) Nice repeated clue.
Geography review:
  • IBIZA (8A: Island home to the world's biggest nightclub) IBIZA is an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Spain. Privilege IBIZA has been declared by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "world's largest nightclub." It has a capacity of 10,000 people. 
  • GILA (13A: Tributary of the Colorado River) Hopefully you remembered the GILA River from the June 10 puzzle, also by Zhouqin Burnikel.
  • FINN (18A: Helsinki Citizen) Helsinki is the capital and most populous city of Finland.
This was an enjoyable puzzle and I learned a few things. IT'S A DONE DEAL and DRONE DELIVERY were my favorites among the theme answers. I do have one thing to ADD (53A: Comment further). I discovered that today is National Ice Cream Day. When Ronald Reagan was president, he established the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day. I don't really need an excuse to eat ice cream, but this is a pretty good one. Enjoy your favorite flavor (or flavors) today.