August 27, 2020


Constructors: Brooke Husic & Evan Kalish

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BALDERDASH (3D: Nonsense)
NEWSFLASH (9D: Interruption-worthy announcement)
TALKS TRASH (31D: Gets in another player's head, perhaps)
GATE CRASH (33D: Attend uninvited)

Theme synopsis: Each vertical theme answer ends in the letter string A-S-H. Since the theme answers are down entries, the words are coming up FROM THE ASHES.

And now a word from one of our constructors: 
Brooke: I'm always impressed with Evan's gridwork and it's unsurprisingly great here! I had a really fun time with cluing. The song referenced in 52-down/11-down is more than 7 minutes long and hit #1 in Canada and was top 20 in the US. Can you imagine that happening now?? I loved cultivating a coding subtheme in the center with 32-, 34-, and 48-across. I enjoyed shouting out Lake Tahoe in 30-across, and I was happy to reference Morgana in 49-down because I always love to draw her card in the Avalon board game.

Things I learned:
  • ADAM (14A: Voices 4 activist Eli) ADAM Eli is the co-founder of Voices 4, an activist group that uses social media to promote actions working for global LGBTQIA+ liberation. 
  • IN DRAG (32A: How Anna Lytical teaches coding) Google engineer, Billy Jacobson, uses his DRAG persona to teach novices how to code. The "About" section of Anna Lytical's YouTube channel describes it well, "I'm Anna Lytical, the sickeningly entertaining coding DRAG queen. I'm creating fun educational coding content to engage a young LGBTQ+ audience with code and tech." As Brooke mentioned, it was fun to see this clue along with ADA (34A: Programmer Lovelace) and HACKER (48A: Rihanna's character in "Ocean's 8," e.g.) form a coding sub-theme.
  • LIU (Figure skater Alysa) Alysa LIU won her first U.S. Figure Skating National Championship in 2019 at the age of 13, making her the youngest person to hold that title. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ADOPTS (20A: Expands the family, perhaps) I enjoyed seeing ADOPTS clued in this way. The word is frequently clued in terms of bringing a pet home from a shelter. I am a proponent of pet adoption, but I liked seeing this angle, too.
  • LYCHEE (54A: Rough-skinned fruit) LYCHEE are green when immature and pink-red when ripe. They have a thin, tough skin covered with small, sharp bumps. I've never eaten LYCHEE. If you have, let me know what it tastes like.
  • BALDERDASH (3D: Nonsense) I've always liked the word BALDERDASH! The word has been around sense the 1600's, but its origin is unclear. Apparently when it was first used it referred to an unappetizing mixture of drinks, such as beer and milk, or beer and wine. 
  • CAPES (42D: Durag parts) A durag is a type of cap. The part of the durag that hangs down in back is called the CAPE. Sometimes people choose to tuck in their durag CAPES. There has been some conversation in the crossword world (and the world in general) recently about the spelling of durag. Some mainline crosswords frequently spell the word as "do-rag" in both clues and as an answer. However, an article in the New York Times puts it well, "anyone who has ever worn a durag spells it durag. Moving on."
  • CAMELOT (49D: Legendary place from which Morgan le Fay was banished) Morgan le Fay is a powerful enchantress in the King Arthur legends, with a potential to do good and evil, depending on the tale.
  • TWO (64D: Number of Nobel Prizes Marie Curie won) I love a crossword that includes Marie Curie and ADA Lovelace.
Geography review:
  • NILE (16A: Luxor's river) Luxor is a city in upper Egypt, located on the NILE River.
  • SKI LIFT (30A: Way to get up Heavenly Mountain) Heavenly Mountain is a ski resort located on the California-Nevada border. The area receives an average of 360 inches of snow annually. 
  • LAOS (66A: Vat Phou's country) Vat Phou is a Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern LAOS. The temple ruins date from the 11th to 13th centuries.
  • OSLO (70A: Capital west of Stockholm) Stockholm is the capital of Sweden. To its west, OSLO is the capital of Norway.
NEWSFLASH - there was a lot to like in today's puzzle. After I finish a puzzle I take a look back and mark answers and clues I want to highlight. Today I had to make some choices to keep this blog post from being way too long. (Also, that's the reason why it's being posted a little late...I got carried away learning things!) This was a clever theme and I enjoyed all of the theme answers. Lots of lively fill and delightful cluing made this a great way to start my Thursday morning.