August 13, 2020

Constructor: Evan Kalish
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
TAKE IT ON THE CHIN (17A: Endure a tough setback with grace)
THEN AGAIN (32A: "Although, thinking about it from the other side...")
THIS IS FUN (41A: "Whee!")
THIRD GENERATION (57A: Demographic with immigrant grandparents)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains the letter string T-H-I-N SPREAD across the word, with some letters at the start and the remaining letters at the end of the phrase.

And now a word from our constructor: 
Evan: I hope you said [41-Across] while solving; apparently that entry is making its crossword debut! I was pleased that several of my cluing angles made the cut, including 2-Down; 6-A (who’s a notable activist); 18-D; 44-A; 56-D; and 57-A.

Things I learned:
  • DORA (6A: Explorer voiced by Fatima Ptacek) Fatima Ptacek has voiced the title character of Dora the Explorer since 2010. Ptacek has worked with the UN Women's campaign #HeForShe advocating for gender equality. 
  • ANA (29A: Singer Gabriel) ANA Gabriel recorded her first song, "Compréndeme," in 1977. Since then she has had hits in three genres of music: Latin pop, Latin rock, and Mariachi.
  • THEE (51D: Megan ___ Stallion) Megan THEE Stallion is a rapper and songwriter. Her first full-length mixtape, Fever, was released in 2019.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SALSA (1A: A 100-foot-long serving of nachos in 2018 had 450 pounds of it) That's a lot of SALSA and this was a fun clue!
  • RIOT (15A: "The language of the unheard," according to MLK) A timely clue and a good reminder. 
  • HOLI (36A: Hindu festival) The festival HOLI celebrates the arrival of spring, the end of winter, and signifies the victory of good over evil. It is also known as the "festival of spring," the "festival of colors," or the "festival of love." The date of HOLI is set by the Hindu calendar. In 2021 HOLI will be Monday, March 29.
  • AWAY (2D: Broadway's "Come From ___") My husband and I are theater fans and we have seen a lot of musicals. Come From AWAY ranks in my top five of favorites. It's an incredible show telling the true story of the 38 planes that landed in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland following the September 11 attacks. The focus is on the people - those on the planes and in the town - and their responses and reactions to this unexpected event. I could go on and on about Come From AWAY, but I will simply urge you to see it if you get the opportunity! (Once live theater is happening again, of course.) 
  • NO DUH (30A: Well, OB-viously") I may have laughed out loud at this clue and answer!
Geography review:
  • NSA (37A: U.S. org. hidden in two U.S. state names) Can you name the states? Answer below.
  • ATHENS (9D: Capital home to the Acropolis) ATHENS is the capital and largest city of Greece. The acropolis of ATHENS contains the remains of several ancient buildings, including the Parthenon. 
  • SINAI (25D: Mountain climbed by Moses) Mount SINAI is located on the SINAI Peninsula of Egypt. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle - it was so delightful! Such a fun piece of trivia at 1-Across to start things off. TAKE IT ON THE CHIN is a great grid-spanning answer as is THIRD GENERATION. Smooth fill all around and interesting and inclusive cluing. THEN AGAIN... Just kidding, there's no THEN AGAIN, I definitely said, "THIS IS FUN!"

I'm writing this sitting in my car in a parking lot with strong cell signal again. We are still without power following Monday's derecho that went through Iowa. I know crews are working around the clock to restore power and many neighborhoods around us have power now. We are doing our best to be patient. My hope is to have power and internet service before Saturday so I can participate in Lollapuzzoola! (Priorities, you know!)

Answer: The two U.S. states hiding the NSA are ArkaNSAs and KaNSAs.