October 23, 2020


Constructor: Kate Hawkins

Editor: Erik Agard  Paolo Pasco

Theme Answers:
LASER BEAM (17A: Light show sight)
ONION RINGS (29A: Curly fries alternative)
DANCE FLOOR (43A: Place to bust a move)
BANK VAULT (58A: Secure spot for money)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is a GYMNASTICS event: BEAM, RINGS, FLOOR, and VAULT.

And now a word from our constructor:
Kate: Certain sports have historically enjoyed a lot of airtime in crosswords. I’m happy to dedicate an entire theme to this sport, which conveniently has a crossword-friendly number of events. When I placed 35D in this grid I knew there was only one way for me to clue it— in relation to the inimitable Miley Cyrus. (The Hannah Montana soundtracks totally hold up by the way.)

Things I learned:
  • SKIS (23A: Competes like Millie Knight) Millie Knight is a Paralympic skier who competes in alpine skiing events for Great Britain. Due to a childhood illness, Knight lost most of her vision by age six. She competes in the slalom, giant slalom Super-G, Super Combined and Downhill skiing events with a sighted guide. At the age of 15, Knight competed in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, making her the youngest person from Great Britain to compete in any Winter Paralympics.
  • EDIE (61A: Big or Little protagonist of "Grey Gardens") Grey Gardens is a 1975 documentary telling the story of two reclusive women, a mother and daughter both named Edith Beale. "Big EDIE" and "Little EDIE" lived in poverty at Grey Gardens, a derelict mansion in a wealthy neighborhood in East Hampton, New York. In 2010, the Library of Congress selected Grey Gardens for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Film critics voted Grey Gardens as the ninth best documentary of all time in a 2014 Sight & Sound Poll.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GEODE (19A: Crystal-containing rock) A GEODE is a hollow rock in which crystals are secluded. The crystals are only visible when the rock is broken open. Although fascinating, the explanation of how geodes form is too complex for me to explain here. If you're interested, here's a short video describing the process. Geodes are found in parts of the midwestern United States (including Iowa), Brazil, Namibia, Mexico, and an area of Somerset, England. A GEODE is the ultimate "you can't judge a book by its cover" object lesson. 
  • ABBY (27A: Soccer megastar Wambach) A member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, ABBY Wambach won the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award six times during her career. She helped the U.S. women's national soccer team win two Olympic gold medals. 
  • MAY (42A: Mental Health Awareness Month) MAY has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949. It was started by the Mental Health America organization to raise awareness around and to provide education about mental health. Sadly, there is still a stigma associated with admitting to needing help with one's mental health. (Imagine if there were a stigma associated with needing cancer treatment.) I applaud efforts to provide education on this important topic year-round, not only in MAY.
  • DANCE FLOOR (43A: Place to bust a move) Just yesterday I was wondering if "bust a move" was a phrase that was still used. An odd thing to wonder about, admittedly - it was in the midst of crossword puzzle theme brainstorming. I guess the answer is yes!
  • CAPE (47A: Accessory for a Storm cosplayer) Storm is a Marvel Comics superhero. She was the first major female comics character of African descent. And yes, she wears a CAPE.
  • MAT (50A: Protective floor covering) It is important to have a MAT for a GYMNASTICS MEET. Nice bonus entry.
  • KNIT (25D: Stitch a scarf, say) I learned to KNIT when I was 10 years old, and my first completed project (and the only one I completed until about 25 years later...) was a scarf for my Barbie doll. It was yellow, and I probably still have it in a box somewhere. 
  • O'KEEFFE (29D: "Mother of American modernism" Georgia) I should know by now that O'KEEFFE has two Fs, but it takes me by surprise every time! Georgia O'KEEFFE is known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. 
  • ROCK STAR (35D: Hannah Montana, e.g.) Hannah Montana was a TV series about a teenage girl (played by Miley Cyrus) living a double life as a schoolgirl by day, and a ROCK STAR at night. "ROCK STAR" is a song on the Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus soundtrack album. 
  • CORTADO (41D: Espresso-and-milk drink) A CORTADO is espresso drizzled with warm (steamed, but not frothy) milk. CORTADO is the past participle of the Spanish verb "cortar," meaning "to cut." The milk in a CORTADO dilutes (or cuts) the espresso and reduces its bitterness.

    Geography review:
    • RHONE (16A: French wine region) The RHÔNE wine region is, appropriately, located in the RHÔNE river valley in southern France. 
    A nice theme today giving GYMNASTICS some crossword representation. Plenty of nice bonus entries here, too, such as THESPIAN and AMATEURS (or maybe amateur thespians!) I also enjoyed PASTA BAR, ROCK STAR, and O'KEEFFE. Oh, and I can't forget WONKIER! A fun word to say, and to see in the puzzle. I appreciated learning about Millie Knight and Grey Gardens today. This puzzle was a delightful way to start my Friday.