August 19, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
UP IN THE AIR (17A: Still unresolved)
TALK A BLUE STREAK (40A: Go on and on)
CAST A SPELL (65A: Do some magic)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each phrase can follow the word HOT and the word COLD: HOT AIR and COLD AIR, HOT STREAK and COLD STREAK, HOT SPELL and COLD SPELL.

Things I learned:
  • PLUM (61D: Fruit used to make saladitos) A saladito is a dried, salted PLUM which may also be sweetened or coated in chili and lime.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CRAB (24A: ___ sticks (imitation seafood)) CRAB sticks are pulverized white fish that is shaped and cured to resemble CRAB meat. Since fish is seafood, I find it interesting that CRAB sticks are considered imitation seafood. Maybe "masquerading seafood" would be a more accurate term.
  • RAT (31A: Splinter's species in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are superhero anthropomorphic mutant turtles. Splinter serves as the Turtles' sensei and adopted father. His name and character are a parody of a Marvel Comics character named Stick.
  • STAN (45A: Devoted fan) In 2000, rapper Eminem released a song titled, "STAN," telling the story of a person claiming to be Eminem's biggest fan. The song and subsequent music video led to the widespread use of the word STAN to mean a devoted, fanatical fan. The word STAN was added to the Oxford English Dictionary (the crossword-friendly OED) in 2017. 
  • LOLA (63A: Actress Falana) LOLA Falana began her stage career in 1958 at the age of 16. She went on to dance and act with Sammy Davis, Jr., appear in many TV shows, and perform in Las Vegas. In a 2019 interview with Vulture, comedian and Actress Niecy Nash recalled being 5 years-old and seeing LOLA Falana while watching TV with her grandma. Nash remembers saying, "That's what I want to be, Grandma. I want to be black and fabulous and on TV."
  • BALD EAGLES (30D: America's national birds) I am old enough to remember when BALD EAGLES were at risk of disappearing from North America as a result of DDT use, loss of habitat, and legal and illegal hunting. Therefore, I always get excited when I see one of these truly majestic birds. BALD EAGLES were officially removed from the U.S. endangered and threatened species list in 2007.
Geography review:
  • TEMPE (59A: City south of Scottsdale) TEMPE, Arizona is named after the Vale of TEMPE, a valley in Greece.
  • EURO (12D: Currency in Cannes) Cannes is a city on the Mediterranean coast of France. It is the host city of the annual Cannes Film Festival, at which I imagine many a EURO is spent.
  • ARAB (25D: ___ News (paper published in Riyadh)) Riyadh is a city in Saudi Arabia.
Taking part of each phrase and placing it before or after another word is a common theme type. Always fun when there's an extra layer of this type of theme such as in today's puzzle when the words can pair with either HOT or COLD. The theme answers were delightful phrases, too. I especially liked TALK A BLUE STREAK. Some nice long bonuses in the down answers. I doubt anyone SHEDS A TEAR over this puzzle. An enjoyable start to my day.