Title: IN A BIT
Constructor: Evan Kalish
Editor: Erik Agard
BIBLE BELT (16A: Region with many churches)
BATHING SUIT (36A: Beach getup)
BANANA SPLIT (42A: Dessert in a boat)
BILLY GOAT (63A: Bearded farm dweller)
Theme synopsis: All of the theme answers either begin with BI- and end with -T, or begin with B- and end with -IT. Therefore, all of the theme answers are inside of BIT.
And now a word from our constructor:
Evan: I like grids that give you a lot of spatial leeway. This 9/11/11/9 theme set was easy to work with, and I was pleased with the eight-letter bonus fill this enabled, especially in the NE and SW. It was nice getting some inclusive cluing in at 4-Down, 40-Across, 41-A, and 56-D.
Things I learned:
- SNL (45A: Show that starts at 11:29:30 p.m. ET) I did not know this piece of SNL trivia. Put this nugget in your pocket and save it to share with your friends when it's safe to go to parties again. You can add that the show ends at 1:02 a.m. ET)
- RUSSO (32D: Waverly Place surname) Wizards of Waverly Place was a Disney channel sitcom about three siblings with magical abilities. I've seen this show, but didn't know this answer and was thankful for fair crosses to figure it out.
- OBOE (56A: Jennifer Paull's instrument) The OBOE d'amore, also known as the alto oboe, is Jennifer Paull's main instrument. The OBOE d'amore is slightly larger than the OBOE and has a tranquil and serene tone.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- ALBA (4A: Actress Jessica) Jessica ALBA's latest project is a Disney+ documentary series with the working title Parenting Without Borders. ALBA will star in and executive produce the show that will focus on the beliefs and culture of families around the world.
- DEBUNKED (20A: Proven to be false) DEBUNKED is a delightful word to say - it has a satisfying thud to it. Nice bonus fill.
- EARL (22A: Chief Justice Warren) EARL Warren was Chief Justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969. During that time he wrote the majority opinion in the landmark cases Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia. He also led the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
- TASTE (28A: Fashionista's sense) and STYLE (34D: Fashionista's sense) When I encountered 28-Across I confidently typed in STYLE. As the Down answers revealed STYLE as incorrect I was miffed until I reached 34-Down and all became clear. Tricky.
- EAT (40A: Enjoy some shabu-shabu, say) Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables served with dipping sauces. The name shabu-shabu is onomatopoeic, deriving from the sound emitted when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot.
- ESSAY (41A: Many a Claudia Rankine opus) Claudia Rankine is a poet and essayist. In 2017, Rankine established an interdisciplinary collective called The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). TRII is a think tank for artists and writers. According to the TRII website, the name TRII is "meant to capture the enduring truth of race: it is an invented concept that nevertheless operates with extraordinary force in our daily lives, limiting our movements and imaginations."
- ORAL (46A: Spoken exam) ORAL exams always evoke memories of the ORAL comprehensive exams I took (endured?) in graduate school. Appropriate to see in the puzzle, as 30 years ago today I began graduate school at the University of Iowa. (After which I came home and cried, but things did get better.)
- SANDRA OH (Portrayer of Eve in "Killing Eve" and Ava in "Meditation Park") Another nice bonus! SANDRA OH also played the role of Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy.
- GARBO (25D: "Grand Hotel" star Greta) GARBO is ranked fifth on the American Film Institute's 1999 list of the greatest female stars of classic Hollywood cinema.
- NITE (55D: Late time, informally) My first entry here was NINE, and I wondered why "informally" was added to the clue. Ha! I guess it's obvious that I am not a late NITE person.
- STEW (61D: Feijoada, e.g.) A stew of beans with beef and pork, feijoada gets it's name from feijāo, the Portuguese word for "beans."
- ALBERTA (4D: Province where Joni Mitchell was born) ALBERTA is Canada's fourth most populous province. It is situated between British Columbia and Saskatchewan and below the Northwest Territories. The state of Montana is at its southern border. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is in ALBERTA, just above Glacier National Park. Waterton-Glacier a beautiful park that my husband and I were fortunate to visit a few years ago.
- ASIA (43D: Tajikistan's continent) The Republic of Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central ASIA. It is bordered by Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China.
There were so many things I wanted to highlight from today's crossword - the sign of an engaging puzzle! Now I want to EAT some shabu-shabu or feijoada, followed by a BANANA SPLIT. Before I do that, though, I'm going to make a donation to a charitable organization (the ACLU is my choice, but you have options) and then receive 42 puzzles from Grids for Good. This is a great opportunity to support the work of good people and receive original work from excellent puzzle constructors. Just in time to provide entertainment for the stay-at-home holiday weekend!