August 11, 2020

Title: YOU'VE BEEN D.Q.'D!

Constructor: Stella Zawistowski

Editor: Erik Agard

Guest Blogger: Matthew Stock

Theme Answers:

DOWN QUARK (17A: Elementary particle with an "up" counterpart)
DRAGON QUEST (32A: Video game franchise with fire-breathing creatures)
DIRECT QUOTE (38A: Word-for-word citation)
DRAG QUEEN (56A: Latrice Royale or Vanessa "Vanjie" Mateo)

Theme Synopsis:
Each themer is a two-word phrase in which the first word starts with D and the second word starts with Q.

Things I learned:

  • ELK (8D: Taos Pueblo painter Albert Looking ___) Albert Looking Elk was an early 20th-century indigenous painter in Taos Pueblo (in what eventually became New Mexico). Alongside Albert Lujan and Juan Mirabel, Albert Looking Elk painted oil and watercolor pieces about the Taos Pueblo community. He was also elected Governor of Taos Pueblo in 1938.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • EUREKA (37A: California's state motto) "Eureka" is Greek for "I have found it!" and has been California's motto since 1963. Other noteworthy state mottos include New Mexico's ("Crescit eundo," or "it grows as it goes" in Latin) and Texas's ("Friendship").
  • DRAG QUEEN (56A: Latrice Royale or Vanessa "Vanjie" Mateo) Once I saw Stella's byline and cracked this puzzle's theme, I knew it'd only be a matter of time before DRAG QUEEN popped up! Latrice Royale and Vanessa "Vanjie" Mateo are both former contestants on "RuPaul's Drag Race," which I haven't watched but seems like a great time.
  • STARR (9D: "The Hate U Give" heroine) Starr Carter is the protagonist of Angie Thomas' incredible YA novel, which was adapted into a film starring Amandla Stenberg in 2018. The book is a fantastic read — check it out from your library if you haven't gotten to it yet! 
  • FLAUTA (45D: Food whose name is Spanish for "flute") Flautas are delicious rolled/fried dishes featuring tortillas and filling (usually a meat). You can also put toppings on your flautas in addition to all the tastiness inside.
Geography review:
  • SMOCK (9A: Ghanaian garment) The Republic of Ghana is a coastal country in West Africa between Côte d'Ivoire and Togo. In 1957, it became the first sub-Saharan African country to win independence from colonial rule. Ghanaian smocks, the country's national dress, are plaid shirts similar to dashikis.
Hi y'all! Puzzle lover / Sally's Take superfan Matthew here, tagging in for our intrepid USAT leader this morning — apologies to any of you all who were ready to read right at 9 a.m.! 

I absolutely loved Stella's puzzle today. The themers really cover a lot of ground, from science to video games to drag, but the clues for all of them were so smart about dropping additional context hints (referencing "up" quarks and "fire-breathing creatures" made me feel good about dropping in DOWN and DRAGON, even if I wasn't completely sure on either). Plus, we get some awesome long bonuses in NEWSPAPERS (support local journalism!) MINOTAUR and KEEP IT REAL. As a current St. Louis resident and big fan of BBQ, the shoutout at 48D was icing on the cake. Lovely job, Stella! Thanks for getting this morning started on a high note.