August 30, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
PIN CUSHION (17A: Sewing kit item)
MOUNTAIN LION (27A: Another name for the cougar)
BRAIN SURGEON (43A: Craniotomy performer)
KEVIN BACON (57A: Founder of the charity

Theme synopsis: In each theme answer, the first word ends with -IN, and the second word ends with -ON.

Things I learned:
  • ACHE (6D: Feeling after muay thai practice) Muay Thai is a combat sport of Thailand characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins. It is sometimes referred to as Thai boxing. This clue is a fine example of using words or terms that might be new to some solvers to clue a familiar word. Even if you are unfamiliar with muay Thai, you are likely familiar with that post-exercise ACHE. At the minimum, you've now seen the words muay Thai. If you were intrigued enough to look it up, (or if you're reading this!) you've learned something new.
  • UDON (45D: Noodles often topped with narutomaki) Narutomaki is a type of cured, processed seafood product common in Japanese cuisine. Each slice of narutomaki has a pink or red spiral pattern meant to resemble the whirlpools in the Naruto Strait, a body of water separating two of the main islands of Japan.
  • GINA (51A: "The Mandalorian" actress Carano) GINA Carano plays the role of Carasynthia "Cara" Dune on The Mandalorian, a live-action TV series in the Star Wars franchise. GINA Carano is also a former mixed martial artist who started her career in the sport of muay Thai. (Look at that nice interconnectedness!)
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GILAS (38A: Largest lizards native to the U.S.) GILAS are venomous lizards native to the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. Fortunately, although GILA monsters are venomous, they are sluggish and slow-moving and represent little threat to humans. GILA monsters may grow to a length of 22 inches, although the average length is 10 to 14 inches.
  • KEVIN BACON (57A: Founder of the charity In the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest link (through movie co-stars) between any given actor and Kevin Bacon. Although he has stated he originally didn't like the game, Kevin Bacon decided to use its popularity to do something positive. was founded in 2007, and aims to help people become "celebrities for their own causes."
  • TANG (3A: Drink mix brand) TANG was first marketed in powdered form in 1959. The creator of TANG, food scientist William A. Mitchell, also invented Pop Rocks and Cool Whip. Although not invented for the U.S. space program, TANG has been used on NASA manned space flights.
Geography review:
  • ALPS (1D: European mountain range) The ALPS stretch approximately 750 miles (1,200 kilometers), and cross eight European countries: France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia.
  • UTAH (29D: The Beehive State) Another (unofficial) nickname for UTAH is Deseret, which is an ancient word for "honeybee," and was originally planned by some groups as the name for the state. 
  • BERN (36D: Swiss capital) BERN is referred to by the Swiss as their "federal city." According to local legend, the founder of BERN vowed to name the city after the first animal he met while on a hunt, which ended up being a bear. 
This was an enjoyable puzzle to solve to begin my Sunday. I appreciated learning a few new things today. In this case, I DID IT (30D: Admission of guilt) is, instead, a claim of success.


  1. Thanks so much for your reviews. They are so very interesting and I learn a lot from your comments.

    1. You're welcome, Pat! I hope you can tell I thoroughly enjoy writing the blog. It's a bonus when I learn people enjoy reading it.


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