August 9, 2020

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme Answers:
IVORY TOWER (3D: Place sheltered from worldly concerns)
BRITTANY FRANCE (8D: Brest's region)
MOUNT A COMEBACK (14D: Chip away at the lead)
POWDER BLUE (27D: Pastel color)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer can be placed in front of the word SNOW: IVORY SNOW, BRITTANY SNOW, MOUNT SNOW, POWDER SNOW. All of the theme answers are Down entries. (This is the FALLing aspect of the theme.) 

Things I learned:
  • EDNA (15A: Southern cooking legend Lewis) EDNA Lewis was a chef and author and founder of the Society for the Revival and Preservation of Southern Food. She authored four cookbooks, including In Pursuit of Flavor and The Gift of Southern Cooking (with Scott Peacock). In 2014, EDNA Lewis was honored by the creation of a postal stamp with her image. She was one of five people represented on the Celebrity Chef postage stamps.
  • OWEN (36A: "Once Were Warriors" star Rena) Once Were Warriors is a movie adaptation of Alan Duff's book of the same name. It tells the story of a Māori family and their struggles with poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence. The Māori are the indigenous Polynesion people of New Zealand. In addition to playing the role of Beth Heke in Once Were Warriors, Rena OWEN portrayed Taun We in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.
  • HER (41A: "Hard Place" singer) H.E.R., stands for Having Everything Revealed, and is the stage name of Gabriella Wilson. The song "Hard Place" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 2020.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CHAN (26A: Actress Gemma) Gemma Chan played the role of Astrid Leong-Teo in the movie, Crazy Rich Asians.
  • ATE (37A: Enjoyed some cha siu bao, say) Cha siu bao is a Cantonese barbecued-pork-filled bun. Cha siu bao may be steamed or baked. 
  • BRA (52A: Natori garment) The Natori company, founded by Josie Natori, sells, lingerie, sleepwear, and accessories to upscale department stores. When commenting on her choice of lingerie for her business venture in 1977 when she transitioned from a career in finance, Josie Natori has said, "In 1977 lingerie had no style. It was either Victorian or vulgar. Because I had no preconceived notions about what Natori should be, I was able to produce bold, colorful, and unexpected lingerie for the time."
Geography review:
  • BRITTANY, FRANCE (8D: Brest's region) BRITTANY is a cultural region in western France. At one time it was an independent kingdom. Some of the world's oldest standing architecture is in BRITTANY, FRANCE, including the Cairn of Barnenez, dating back to about 4800 B.C.
I enjoyed solving this puzzle, although it seemed  to present a few challenges at some spots. I'm not sure if that was a result of proper names I wasn't familiar with, or Sunday morning brain fogginess, or perhaps, a combination of the two! There were some fun answers, including TELEPATHIC and SCARAB. The clue for OPENING DAY (17A: Baseball season starter) made me remember I had tickets for a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game this weekend, before COVID-19 changed all of our plans. PRIG (1A: Goody-goody) seems to be such an archaic word. I'm fairly certain this is the only time I've ever used the word PRIG in a sentence!
The theme is of a straightforward type - words in the theme answers that can precede another word. After I discovered the theme I had to talk myself into being confident I had found the theme. Here's a sampling of my inner dialogue: IVORY SNOW, is that a thing? (It is - it's a mild laundry detergent  sold by the IVORY company.) MOUNT SNOW, is there a MOUNT SNOW? (There is - it's in Vermont.) Is there a person named BRITTANY SNOW? (There is - she appeared in the soap opera, Guiding Light and played Julia Bechley in the TV series, Almost Family.) POWDER SNOW - is it called that? (POWDER SNOW is frequently referred to as simply POWDER, though I did find instances of the full term being used. I also learned that POWDER SNOW is the name of a type of move in Pokémon video games.) 
On another note, today marks two months of writing this blog! When I started "SALLY'S TAKE on the USA Today Crossword," I looked at it as an adventure and decided I would try it and see how it went. Two months in, blogging about the crossword after I solve it has become a part of my morning routine that I look forward to. I thoroughly enjoy the time of solving, researching, and writing. Sometimes it feels like I'm having a conversation with myself (like today's theme discussion), but I'm grateful for those of you who join the conversation by reading what I've written. Here's to many more months!