July 7, 2020

Constructors: Brooke Husic & Evan Kalish
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
DOUBLE CHECK (17A: Reverify)
DEFENSIVE BACK (26A: Football player covering a wide receiver, often)
DAVE BRUBECK (57A: "Unsquare Dance" composer)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer either begins with D- and ends with -ECK, or begins with DE- and ends with -CK. Therefore, the interior letters of the theme answers CUT THE DECK.

And now a word from our constructors:
Evan: Brooke developed the theme answer set of 11/13/13/11—which was fairly restrictive in terms of layout—but the results were nice. This grid only required four K’s, which promised to be tricky to work around, but why not make it nine?? (It just worked out that way.)
Brooke: This is the second of many Husic + Kalish collaborations! Evan was one of the first friends I made in the crossword community and, like he says, we're a great puzzlemaking team. I'm always impressed with his gridwork, fill cleanliness, and overall passion for the craft. Evan definitely gets the assist with 37/38-Down.

Things I learned:
  • SKA (10A: Genre for The Bodysnatchers) The Bodysnatchers were a seven-member all-female band from 1979-1981. Five of the band's members went on to form another all-female band, The Belle Stars.
  • MIX (16A: Little ___) Little MIX is a British girl group. They formed in 2011, during the eighth season of The X Factor, a British reality TV competition to find new singing talent. Their debut album was titled DNA (future crossword clue potential!)
  • KIWI (11D: Fruit similar to pitaya) I was unfamiliar with the term pitaya, but know this fruit by it's alternate name, dragon fruit. (My autocorrect is also unfamiliar with pitaya and changed it to pity!)
  • OKRA (Bhindi bhaji ingredient) Bhindi bhaji is an Indian curry dish featuring OKRA.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SCARF (1A: Wrapped garment) and SARI (6A: Wrapped garment) Nice pair of clues to begin the puzzle. (Sidenote: SARI is the 1-Across answer in today's New York Times crossword. A fun coincidence.)
  • DEFENSIVE BACK (26A: Football player covering a wide receiver, often) The crossword puzzle is once again expanding my sports knowledge! Thanks to the June 28 puzzle, I know this clue could have said "wideout" instead of "wide receiver."
  • DAVE BRUBECK (57A: "Unsquare Dance" composer) DAVE BRUBECK was a jazz pianist and composer. He is one of those musicians whose name I am familiar with, and whose music I've heard, but there probably isn't any song title that could be used in a clue and result in my filling his name in without crosses. Thank goodness for crossing answers! DAVE BRUBECK liked to experiment with unusual time signatures. "Unsquare Dance" is written in 7/4 time.
  • SOFIA (65A: Coppola who won Best Director at Cannes in 2017) The Beguiled was the name of SOFIA Coppola's winning Cannes film. You might say that for SOFIA, filmmaking runs in the family; she is the daughter of filmmakers Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola. 
  • FELT OFF (5D: Made one's Spidey sense tingle) and SICKEN (6D: Make upset, in a way) and ACHE (7D: Feeling in one's heart (or other muscles)) A bit of an ill-vibe in this corner of the grid!
  • INCH (9D: One of more than 1.6 million in a marathon) Here's a nice bit of trivia for you!
  • SLIMY (27D: Like a frog) Frogs are SLIMY as a result of a layer of mucus that helps their skin retain moisture. 
  • KEYS (31A: Tab and Caps Lock, e.g.) and ESC (40A: Full-screen exit key) I hesitated to fill in KEYS since I'd seen "key" in a previous clue. A minor dupe.
It's fun to see the results when constructors collaborate. I enjoyed this Husic/Kalish creation and look forward to more.