October 22, 2020


Constructor: Amanda Rafkin

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LETTERS TO SANTA (19A: North Pole-bound mail)
SEAT FILLERS (36A: Some comp ticket holders)
STRUCK A BALANCE (58A: Compromised)

Theme synopsis: WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? The word LOVE can precede the first word of each theme answer. We have LOVE LETTERS, LOVE SEAT, and LOVESTRUCK.

Things I learned:
  • THAI (16A: (Like tom kha kai) Tom kha kai is a spicy soup made with coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, mushrooms, and chicken. 
  • ELEANOR (11D: "The Good Place" protagonist) The Good Place is a TV series that follows ELEANOR, a woman welcomed to "The Good Place," a selective heaven-like utopia, following her death.
  • ELENA (20D: Hoops star ___ Delle Donne) ELENA Delle Donne plays basketball for WNBA's Washington Mystics. She won a WNBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2015 and 2019. In 2019 ELENA Delle Donne became the first (and so far only) WNBA player to join the 50-40-90 club, an informal designation for players who achieve a 50% field goal percentage, a 40% three-point field goal percentage, and a 90% free throw percentage over the course of a regular season.
  • KANE (59D: "Show Stopper" group Danity ___) Danity Kane is a girl group formed in 2005 on the MTV series Making the Band. "Show Stopper" is a single from their self-titled debut album.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • JABS (1A: Mocking remarks) and JEER (63A: Mocking remark) Why do I feel as though the corners of this puzzle are mocking me?
  • ARE (22A: "All the Things You ___") Composed by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, "All the Things You ARE" was written for the 1939 musical Very Warm for May. The song also appeared in the movies Broadway Rhythm (1944) and Till the Clouds Roll By (1946).
  • ERR (35A: Mkae smoe tpyos, sya) Ha! This clue is funny, but painful for me to look at. It's also extremely difficult to type without autocorrect interference!
  • KENT (67A: Lane's love) We're talking Lois Lane and Clark KENT.
  • RACE (69A: "So You Want to Talk About ___" (Ijeoma Oluo book)) Published in 2018, Ijeoma Oluo's debut book, So You Want to Talk About RACE, received renewed interest in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. Each chapter title is a question about RACE in America. Oluo offers her opinion on, as well as advice about how to talk about, topics that include affirmative action, cultural appropriation, intersectionality, micro-aggression, police brutality, and the school-to-prison pipeline. 

    Geography review:
    • CANADA (53A: "Come From Away" country) Come From Away is a musical telling the true story of the 38 planes that landed in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland following the September 11 attacks. It's an incredible show which I praised in my August 13 blog post. Newfoundland is the easternmost province of CANADA. Today's constructor, Amanda Rafkin, also posts daily puzzles on her website, Brain Candy. I recommend all of Amanda's puzzles, but if you are, like me, a Come From Away fan, I particularly recommend Theatre Thursday #12 from July 30.
    • BOLO (55A: Official state tie of Texas) If you read my July 25 blog post, you knew this answer. (Okay, I realize you may not remember everything you read four months ago...) Texas made the BOLO tie its official tie in 2007. 
    • ALASKA (5D: State whose official languages include Inupiaq and Deg Xinag) ALASKA has 21 official languages. In 2014, the governor of Alaska signed a bill giving 20 indigenous languages official status.
    • ATL (32D: Georgia's capital, for short) Atlanta, Georgia is home to more than 15 colleges and universities, including my Dad's alma mater, Emory University.
    Let's start by talking about MALTED MILK BALLS. Other than being delicious (in my opinion), this 15-letter vertical answer is a lovely bonus that spans all three theme answers. What a lovely find! Nice theme answers here, particularly STRUCK A BALANCE and LETTERS TO SANTA. Lots of good stuff here - fun answers (SO BE IT, e.g.), enjoyable cluing (that clue for ERR, e.g.), ETC, ETC. Definitely a delightful way to start my Thursday morning.


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