August 18, 2020


Constructor: Stella Zawistowski

Editor: Erik Agard & Paolo Pasco

Theme Answers:
SCISSOR SISTERS (19A: "Let's Have a Kiki" band)
CORNER THE MARKET (36A: Control a commodity, in finance)
DROP EVERYTHING (49A: Stop what you're doing)

Theme synopsis: The START of each theme answer can be placed at the START of the word KICK to describe a type of KICK: SCISSOR KICK, CORNER KICK, DROP KICK.

Things I learned:
  • SCISSOR SISTERS (19A: "Let's Have a Kiki" band) I was not familiar with the SCISSOR SISTERS, but the band's name is made up of two familiar words that were inferable once a few letters were filled in. SCISSOR SISTERS is a pop/rock band with a brash and controversial image. In 2004, their debut album was the best-selling album in the UK. When the album was released in the United States, Wal-Mart refused to stock it, claiming it contained, "a snarling, swaggering attack on conservatism." Reading up on the band has made me want to check out their music.
  • NELLY (41A: "I'm Like a Bird" singer Furtado) "I'm Like a Bird" won NELLY Furtado a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. 
  • IVAN (53D: "Nothing But a Man" star Dixon) IVAN Dixon also played the role of Staff Sergeant James Kinchloe on the TV show Hogan's Heroes. IVAN was a civil rights activist and served a term as president of Negro Actors for Action.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • MEME (42A: The term "galaxy brain" originated from one) A "galaxy brain" (or "expanding brain") MEME involves a set of images comparing the brain size of a person relative to other variables. It is often used in an ironic sense to imply that objects of derision are of a higher standard than objects usually well-regarded.
  • SANG (31A: Did karaoke) and SONG (64A: "Parasite star ___ Kang-ho) An effective way to deal with a near dupe is to clue them using different meanings. This was a nice example of that tactic.
  • ON END (65A: Without stopping) This is the second day in a row we've seen ON END in the puzzle and today my brain parsed it correctly on the first try - no ONE ND attempts today!
  • SWIRL (11D: Rhyme and synonym of "whirl") and GAIN (55D: Rhyme and synonym of "obtain") This was a nice clue pairing. It made me wonder how many rhyming synonyms exist and whether it would be possible to construct an entire puzzle (maybe a mini or a midi) consisting only of rhyming synonyms.
  • TREE (32A: "Happy little" thing in a Bob Ross painting) This clue made me smile. Bob Ross is known for his instructional TV program, "The Joy of Painting," on which he painted many "happy little TREEs." Posthumously, Ross and his "happy little TREEs" have become the subject of many Internet MEMEs. In fact, after the derecho that swept through Iowa last week, I saw a MEME with Bob Ross saying, "Over here we're going to paint a happy little TREE falling over and knocking down a power line." I admit it made me laugh.
Geography review:
  • UTAH (14A: State where the Jazz play) The UTAH Jazz are an NBA team based in Salt Lake City, the state's capital. UTAH adopted a new state song in 2003 when some 4th grade students talked to their local state representative and asked for a song that was fun to sing. The representative drafted a bill which passed the state legislature and made "UTAH...This is the Place" the state song.
  • AUS (22A: Sydney's continent (Abbr.)) The continent of AUStralia is home to three countries: AUStralia, Papua New Guinea, and portions of Indonesia. Sydney is its largest city.
  • THAI (9D: Chiang Mai resident) Chiang Mai is the capital of Chiang Mai Province in northern THAIland. The name "Chiang Mai" means "New City" in THAI.
  • TAHOE (27D: Lake near Carson City) Lake TAHOE is the second deepest lake in the United States with a depth of 1,645 feet. Only Crater Lake is deeper.
  • OKLA (33D: State north of Tex.) OKLAhoma's name is derived from the Choctaw phrase "OKLA humma," meaning "red people." The name was proposed by Choctaw Nation Chief Allen Wright during treaty negotiations in 1866. Last month the Supreme Court ruled that about half of the land in OKLAhoma is within a Native American reservation.
This puzzle was a fun solve. CORNER THE MARKET and DROP EVERYTHING are delightful, long theme phrases, and I enjoyed learning about the SCISSOR SISTERS. A couple of nice, long, non-theme bonuses in HOT SAUCE and ANTIHERO. All of this combined with a playful cluing voice in entries such as I WIN (60A: "Heads ___, tails you lose") and TOTO (15D: Dorothy's pupper) made this an enjoyable start to my Tuesday.


  1. Thanks for your help - I couldn't suss out the overall theme.


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