August 5, 2020

Constructor: Zhouzin Burnikel
Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
I OWE YOU BIG TIME (16A: "My deepest gratitude!")
DETROIT LIONS (26A: Ford Field football team)
OFF THE MARKET (48A: No longer available)
IT'S JUST NOT FAIR (63A: Complaint about an unlevel playing field)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer can be paired with the word SHARE to create a new phrase: TIME SHARE, LION'S SHARE, MARKET SHARE, FAIR SHARE.

Things I learned:
  • OLIN (37A: "Hunters" star Lena) "Hunters" is a TV series set in 1977 New York City about a band of Nazi hunters who discover that Nazi war criminals are attempting to create a Fourth Reich. Lena OLIN plays the role of the Colonel, the leader of the Fourth Reich. The series is inspired by real Nazi hunters, but not intended to be a specific representation of any of them.
  • COCO (52A: Tennis star Gauff) At 16 years old, COCO Gauff is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women's Tennis Association. 
  • O'HARA (28D: Soccer player Kelley) Kelley O'HARA plays soccer for the Utah Royals FC and the United States women's national soccer team. O'HARA was one of three U.S. players that played every minute in the 2012 Olympics tournament where the U.S. team won gold.
  • MOUSES (50D: ___ over (gets ready to click on, say)) MOUSES over is not a phrase I use. I had HOVERS at first. This may be partially because I currently use a track pad instead of a MOUSE. However, the phrase "MOUSE over" is official enough that it's in the Merriam Webster dictionary, so I've learned a new phrase.
  • OTIS (58D: Schindler competitor) We're talking about elevators here. OTIS and Schindler are both companies that manufacture elevators. I know about OTIS elevators from working crosswords. Now I'm aware of Schindler elevators, too.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HBO (13A: "Chernobyl channel) Here we are again - just yesterday I discussed not being familiar with which shows are aired on each TV channel. It was easy enough to figure out with the crossing answers, however.
  • ARCH (15A: Place for a keystone) The keystone is the wedge-shaped piece at the top of an ARCH. An ARCH cannot be self-supporting until the keystone is placed. Here's some trivia for you: The keystone of the St. Louis ARCH was placed on October 28, 1965.
  • I OWE YOU BIG TIME (16A: "My deepest gratitude") and IT'S JUST NOT FAIR (63A: Complaint about an unlevel playing field) These two theme answers are delightful phrases and it was fun to see them in the puzzle. Fourteen letter answers can be challenging to work with. The stripe of black squares at the top right and bottom left of the puzzle is the result of these not-quite-grid-spanning entries. I'm sure we've all heard (and likely said) some variation of "IT'S JUST NOT FAIR." As a parent, my response was, "Life is not fair." Sigh.
  • TEN (21A: Total number of I and Q tiles combined, in Scrabble) A fun way to clue the number TEN. I am a Scrabble fan (that may be an understatement...), so enjoyed seeing this reference. If you've played any Scrabble at all, you know there is only one Q tile, meaning the remaining nine are pesky I tiles. 
  • SARA (42A: "Pretty Little Liars" author Shepard) It was just a week ago that I wrote, "Pretty Little Liars is a TV series loosely based on Sara Shepard's novel series of the same name." Unfortunately, when I read this clue my response was, "I just wrote about that! What was her name?" Maybe with this repetition it will now stick.
  • ELBA (7D: Idris who played Mandela) Idris ELBA played the role of Nelson Mandela in the movie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. In addition to his acting work, Idris ELBA is a producer, musician, and DJ. 
  • RAE (27A: "Insecure" creator Issa) In addition to creating and co-writing the TV series, Insecure, Issa RAE also stars in it, playing the role of Issa Dee. Crossword constructors everywhere give thanks for the talented Issa RAE and her crossword-friendly first and last names. 
Geography review:
  • TAIPEI (Capital near Taoyuan) TAIPEI is the capital of Taiwan. Taoyuan, just west of TAIPEI, is the location of Taiwan's largest airport.
As noted above, I found the long theme answers in this puzzle delightful. The newly created phrases with SHARE were fun, too, particularly LION'S SHARE and FAIR SHARE. An enjoyable midweek solve.