September 4, 2020


Constructor: Margit Christenson

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
THAT'S SO LAST YEAR (4D: "It's retro, but in a bad way")
DON'T POKE THE BEAR (7D: "It would behoove you to be less antagonistic")
THE COAST IS CLEAR (9D: "It looks safe!")

Theme synopsis: Since all of the theme answers are vertical grid-spanners, the ending letters of E-A-R are at the bottom of the puzzle. Therefore, we have EARS TO THE GROUND.

Things I learned:
  • ANNIE (51D: Singer Clark, aka St. Vincent) St. Vincent is the professional name of singer and songwriter, ANNIE Clark. St. Vincent has won two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album: in 2015 for St. Vincent, and in 2019 for Masseduction.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LECHE (13A: Spanish for "milk") and LAIT (31D: French for "milk") This was a nice pair of clues. Both of these non-English words are fair game for crosswords, as they are familiar from phrases such as "dulce de leche," "La Leche League," and "cafe au lait."
  • ETTA (19A: "Tell Mama" singer James) and ELLA (55A: "First Lady of Song" Fitzgerald) ETTA James and ELLA Fitzgerald are each frequently seen in crosswords, meaning I always have to pause for a minute to make sure I'm filling in the correct center consonants. Nice to see them making an appearance together today!
  • SEA (27A: "Wide Sargasso ___" (Jean Rhys novel)) Published in 1966, Wide Sargasso SEA is an anti-colonial, feminist response to Charlotte Brontë's, Jane Eyre. Wide Sargasso SEA tells the story of Creole heiress, Antoinette Cosway, who, after growing up in Jamaica, marries a certain unnamed English gentleman. Her husband eventually takes her to England, renames her Bertha, and isolates her from the rest of the world. Wide Sargasso SEA has been adapted into movies and radio dramatizations, and has inspired a song of the same name written by Stevie Nicks.
  • OKRA ( 36A: Ingredient in bhindi masala) The word bhindi is borrowed from Hindi and refers to the vegetable OKRA when used in Indian cooking. Back in July we saw OKRA clued as [Bhindi kadhi veggie] and [Bhindi bhaji ingredient]. Even if you are unfamiliar with a particular dish, if it has the word "bhindi" in the name, it probably contains OKRA.
  • THEY'RE (53A: Frequently misspelled contraction) The grammar nerd in me delighted in this clue.
  • BIKE LANE (56A: Cyclist's place on the road) I am ashamed to admit my first thought was "shoulder," which does fit. I had a moment of cyclist's indignation and was relieved to discover I was wrong. As a bicyclist and a car driver, I am a fan of the BIKE LANE.
  • EERIE (2D: Unsettling) and SCENE (3D: Public spat) This is an instance where two words placed next two each other create a certain vibe. (No commentary at all on the puzzle - I just thought it was a fun find!)
  • YMCA (32D: Village People hit sung at many sporting events) At the junior high my kids attended, this song was played at every party and the parent chaperones were "required" to get up on stage and dance. This is not the only reason I delegated chaperoning to my husband. 
Geography review:
  • SENOR (33A: Honorific in Hialeah) Hialeah, Florida has the highest percentage of Cuban and Cuban American residents of any city in the United States. Hialeah ranks second in the list of cities in the United States where Spanish is most spoken.
  • THE SOUTH (44A: Where Birmingham and Atlanta are located) Indeed, Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia are in THE SOUTH. When I first read the clue I thought maybe there was a state other than Alabama or Georgia that had cities with these names. Interestingly, the following states do have both an Atlanta and a Birmingham: Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.
  • SIERRA (15D: ___ Leone) SIERRA Leone is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. Its capital is Freetown.
  • NILE (35D: River through Khartoum and Cairo) Khartoum is the capital of Sudan. Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The NILE River runs through both capitals. The NILE made three appearances in the crossword during August. This is its first appearance this month.
I confess to feeling seen by 1-Down, as I was experiencing a case of the BLAHS this morning and was contemplating remaining in bed all day until I remembered I write a daily blog. This puzzle was an excellent reward for getting myself out of bed! A creative theme with such delightful grid-spanning theme answers. It's difficult for me to pick my favorite from THAT'S SO LAST YEAR, DON'T POKE THE BEAR, and THE COAST IS CLEAR - they all sparkle in their own way. (Okay, I do have a favorite. DON'T POKE THE BEAR is fabulous.) OH, REALLY is delightfully sassy. HINT, HINT, in case you couldn't tell, I thoroughly enjoyed solving this puzzle.


  1. I too enjoyed this puzzle. Loved "Don't poke the bear"

  2. So glad you enjoyed the puzzle, Sally, thank you for the lovely write-up!

    1. Of course! Thank you for constructing a puzzle that made me glad I got out of bed!


Post a Comment