July 5, 2020

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BROWN BEARS (17A: Kodiak and grizzly, e.g.)
JASMINE FLOWER (25A: Fragrant blossom used in some green teas)
STICKY FINGERS (44A: Tendency to steal)
WILD ANIMAL (57A: Undomesticated beast)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer - BROWN, JASMINE, STICKY, and WILD - is a type of RICE. These four words all appear in the left SIDE of the grid, providing us a crossword with a SIDE OF RICE.

Things I learned:
  • ATKINS (31A: Actress Essence) Essence ATKINS began her acting career with guest spots as a teenager on two episodes of The Cosby Show. She has received three nominations for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. These nominations were for her roles in Half & Half, Are We There Yet? and Marion.
  • MID (28D: ___-cap stocks) This was not a term I was familiar with; fortunately it was inferable. In case you're wondering, MID-cap is a term given to companies with a market value (capitalization) between $2 and $10 billion. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CURD (15A: Poutine bit) Hopefully, you remembered this from the June 20 crossword when poutine was used to clue CHEESE CURDS.
  • OATS (32A: Breakfast food that might be rolled) Nice clue that made me smile.
  • SACHET (47A: Potpourri container) I was thrown off by the word container in the clue. I was trying to come up with some sort of pot or bowl. Maybe "Potpourri pouch" would have gotten me to SACHET sooner. Technically a bag or pouch is a container so the clue is correct, but I took a few wrong turns before arriving at the answer.
  • OVAL (60A: Fingernail shape) Raise your hand if you looked at your fingernails before filling in this answer! This is the second day in a row we've seen OVAL in the puzzle. 
  • BEANS (18D: Rice accompaniment) It was nice of the puzzle to give us some BEANS to go with our SIDE OF RICE. A clever bonus.
  • SKIPS CLASS (27D: Avoids a subject, perhaps) Nice fill, fun clue.
  • THE MET (45D: Host of an annual May gala) My mind kept wanting to parse this answer as THEM-ET or THEME-T and therefore, my arrival at THE MET was delayed.
  • ADELE (48D: "Rumour Has It" singer) When ADELE appeared in the puzzle on June 25, I expressed my desire for a concert featuring the "Crossword-Friendly-One-Named-Singers." This is ADELE's second act in my imaginary concert. We saw SIA in the puzzle on July 1. Still waiting for Enya, Cher, and Lizzo.
Geography review:
  • JAVA (25D: Indonesian island) Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is located on the northwestern coast of JAVA.
For the second day in a row, I appreciated the use of the placement of the theme answers to add an extra layer to the theme. JASMINE FLOWER in the singular felt awkward to me, but it did lead me to discover that JASMINE FLOWER is the name of a song that has sometimes been used during Olympic events. I don't normally begin my day with a SIDE OF RICE, but this puzzle was an enjoyable way to do so.