October 21, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard & Paolo Pasco

Theme Answers:
ONE AT A TIME (16A: "Wait your turn!"
IT'S A DONE DEAL (26A: "No turning back now")
FOURTH ESTATE (42A: Journalists, collectively)
SOCIAL LIFE (56A: Time spent doing stuff with other people)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer can be placed after the word REAL to form a new phrase. We have REAL TIME, REAL DEAL, REAL ESTATE, and REAL LIFE.

Things I learned:
  • SNAPS (1A: "2 On" percussion) "2 On" is a song from Tinashe's debut album, Aquarius. In addition to finger SNAPS, the song features a rap verse by SchoolBoy Q.
  • SALAD (15D: Dish such as nam khao) Nam khao is a popular Lao SALAD made with deep-fried rice balls, fermented pork sausage, peanuts, coconut, fish sauce, and other ingredients. 
  • LIU (58D: "Monstress" author Marjorie) Monstress is a comics series written by Marjorie LIU, and drawn by Sara Takeda. Set in a matriarchal world inspired by early 20th century Asia, Monstress tells the story of a girl who shares a psychic link with a powerful monster.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SUE (Basketball legend Bird) SUE Bird plays basketball in the WNBA for the Seattle Storm. In 2016, fans voted Sue BIRD into the WNBA Top 20@20, a list compiled to celebrate the twentieth season of the WNBA. I learned about SUE Bird from the June 27th puzzle, and was able to remember her name today. 
  • NILLA (13A: ___ Wafers) Excuse me for a moment, I'm adding NILLA Wafers to my grocery list... Nabisco has been producing NILLA Wafers since 1898. Originally marketed as Vanilla Wafers, the name was not shortened to NILLA Wafers until 1967. Due to their use in banana pudding, a recipe especially popular in the southern U.S., Nilla Wafers are consistently in the top five best-selling cookie brands in Atlanta and Houston.
  • ARLO (14A: "The Good Dinosaur" dinosaur) The Good Dinosaur was a 2015 animated movie about a timid Apatosaurus named ARLO.
  • ANTS (18A: Insects eaten by echidnas) Echidnas are also known as spiny anteaters.
  • FOURTH ESTATE (42A: Journalists, collectively) The three estates, or estates of the realm, referred to broad orders of social hierarchy used in Christendom from medieval times to the late 18th century. The three estates were the clergy (first), nobles (second), and commoners (third). Today the three estates are sometimes used to refer to the separation of powers in government - the legislature, administration (or executive), and judiciary. The FOURTH ESTATE refers to the press and news media, and was first used in this sense by Thomas Carlyle in the book On Heroes and Hero Worship.
  • TACOS (46A: ___ al pastor (Mexican dish)) TACOS al pastor is a dish made with spit-grilled pork and combines traditional Middle Eastern spices with flavors of Mexico.
  • ACHE (55A: Post-marathon woe) and RACES (43D: Marathons, etc.) and TRAINS (44D: Prepares for a marathon, say) It's a marathon mini-theme in the lower left corner!
  • IDLES (61A: Does nothing) It made me chuckle to see IDLES just under SOCIAL LIFE. Sometimes doing nothing accurately describes my SOCIAL LIFE.
  • ALEXA (3D: Singer ___ Ray Joel) Not the singer Billy Joel, but his daughter, ALEXA. (Her mother is Christie Brinkley.) I was able to fill this in thanks to the song, "The Downeaster Alexa," which is named for a boat that Billy Joel named for his daughter. One of my favorite Billy Joel songs, "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" was written for ALEXA. A singer and songwriter herself, ALEXA Ray Joel is known for her melodic song writing.
  • BTS (41D: "Mic Drop" K-pop group) You might remember that BTS was the title of the October 4th puzzle, also constructed by Zhouqin Burnikel.

    Geography review:
    • ASIA (33A: Xinjiang's continent) Xinjiang , officially known as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), is a region in northwest China. It is the largest province-level division of China. It's been 20 days since we've seen our crossword-friend, ASIA.
    • LATVIA (6D: Country north of Lithuania) LATVIA is a northern European country in the Baltic region. The capital of LATVIA is Riga.
    • ARAB (28D: Yemen ___ Republic (country from 1962-1990) The Yemen ARAB Republic was a country in the western part of what is now Yemen. In 1992, the Yemen ARAB Republic united with the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) to form the Republic of Yemen.
    • NESS (54D: Loch in Scotland) Loch is the Scottish Gaelic, Irish, and Scots word for a lake. Loch NESS is not the only loch in Scotland, but is certainly one of the most famous, thanks to tales of its mythological inhabitant, the Loch NESS monster.
    I enjoyed the cluing of the theme answer ONE AT A TIME as "Wait your turn!" It paints a nice mental image of a frustrated shopkeeper, perhaps in the time of social distancing, trying to serve a crowd of impatient customers. "ONE AT A TIME!" (Or maybe it was just me that imagined this scene in response to this clue...) I also liked the theme answer IT'S A DONE DEAL. Some great long bonuses in this puzzle, with PLAYLIST, SINGLE MOM, TOEHOLDS, and ABOUT THAT. An enjoyable solve to start my Wednesday.