Title: IT'S A TIE
Constructor: Gail Grabowski
Editor: Erik Agard
POWER SURGE (17A: Spike in the electrical current)
BLACK SHEEP (55A: Disreputable member of the family)
STRING ALONG (10D: Give false hope to)
BOW AND ARROW (24D: Archer's equipment)
Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a kind of TIE: POWER TIE, BLACK TIE, STRING TIE, BOW TIE.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- POWER TIE The phrase "POWER TIE" usually refers to a red TIE. The TIE may be solid red, or have a conservative pattern. Often seen in the realms of politics and business, a POWER TIE worn with a white shirt and a dark suit is meant to convey ambition, strength, and, of course, POWER.
- STRING TIE Also called a bolo TIE, a STRING TIE consists of a piece of cord or leather, secured with an ornamental clasp. Did you know that in 2007, New Mexico passed a law to make the bolo TIE the state's official TIE? The bolo TIE was also named the official TIE of Texas in 2007. Arizona was ahead of the times - the bolo TIE has been the official neckwear there since 1971.
- MOOLA (14A: Cash, slangily) and DIME (15A: Thinnest U.S. coin) A thin DIME is not a lot of MOOLA, but it was fun to see these two answers right next to each other. Add CENT (51D: Penny) from the southeast corner and you'll have a little more MOOLA. My son and I were in need of a DIME a couple of days ago (to calibrate his KitchenAid mixer), but neither of us had any change. You may have seen recently that the U.S. Mint is asking people to put more coins into circulation to help with a coin shortage - one of the many side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, I'm not going to be much help! (We did eventually find a DIME.)
- ELLE (21A: "Teen Spirit" star Fanning) In Teen Spirit, ELLE Fanning played the role of Violet, a shy teenager dreaming of pop stardom.
- BEAT (24A: "Turn the ___ Around" (Vicki Sue Robinson song)) "Turn the BEAT Around" was released in 1976 and is considered a disco classic. In addition to Vicki Sue Robinson, the song has also been recorded by Laura Branigan and Gloria Estefan.
- LEE CHILD (9D: Novelist who created Jack Reacher) LEE CHILD is the pen name of James Dover Grant. Apparently James Grant is tall, and one time while they were grocery shopping his wife remarked, "Hey, if this writing thing doesn't pan out, you could always be a reacher in a supermarket." Grant reports, "I thought, Reacher - good name." And that is how the protagonist of the Jack Reacher series was named.
- BRUNO (27D: 41-Down singer Mars) and FINESSE (41D: 2018 hit featuring Cardi B) BRUNO Mars and Cardi B performed "FINESSE" at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018.
There wasn't anything in this puzzle that was completely new to me. That doesn't happen often! As a result, this puzzle was a pretty smooth solve for me. It's okay to have a puzzle like that occasionally.