November 13, 2020


Constructor: Rachel Fabi

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
IRISH SPRING (16A: Soap brand that, despite the name, originated in Germany)
HOT GIRL SUMMER (25A: 2019 Megan Thee Stallion hit)
TAKING THE FALL (45A: Accepting undue blame) 
ARIEL WINTER (60A: "Modern Family" star)

Theme synopsis: The final word of each theme answer is a SEASON.

Things I learned:
  • AMY (22A: Director Seimetz) AMY Seimetz co-wrote, co-directed, and executive produced the TV series The Girlfriend Experience. The series is based on a 2009 movie of the same name. The series tells the story of women working as high-end escorts specializing in providing "the girlfriend experience." Also an actress, AMY Seimetz has appeared in the movie Pet Sematary, and the TV miniseries The Comey Rule.
  • SOUPS (33A: Bun bo hue and borscht, for two) Bún bò Hué originated in Hué, a former capital of Vietnam. The soup contains rice vermicelli and beef, with a predominant flavor of lemongrass. Borscht originated in the Ukraine. The main ingredient of borscht is beets, giving it a distinctive red color. I was familiar with borscht, but bún bò Hué is new to me. I am a fan of all kinds of SOUPS, so I will seek it out and try it.
  • BACH (50D: Singer (and possible composer) Anna Magdalena ___) Anna Magdalena BACH was the second wife of Johann Sebastian BACH. Anna Magdalena was a singer at the court of Anhalt-Cöthen, where Johann Sebastian worked as a director of music. Recently it has been suggested that Anna Magdalena BACH may have composed several pieces of music bearing her husband's name, though some BACH scholars have dismissed these claims. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • IRISH SPRING (16A: Soap brand that, despite the name, originated in Germany) How interesting that IRISH SPRING was first launched in Germany in 1970, even though it is manufactured by a United States company (Colgate-Palmolive) and its name refers to Ireland (and many of its ads have been set in Irish villages). IRISH SPRING soap bars were not available in the U.S. until 1972. I haven't thought about IRISH SPRING for years, and know of it mainly from its TV ads. Great clue.
  • ASL (23A: Language at Gallaudet) Gallaudet University, in Washington D.C., is a school for deaf and hard of hearing students.
  • HOT GIRL SUMMER (25A: 2019 Megan Thee Stallion hit) HOT GIRL SUMMER became Megan Thee Stallion's first Billboard number one hit. The song features Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla Sign.
  • FEB (37A: Mo. in which Frederick Douglass was born) In his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Douglass wrote about not having accurate knowledge of his age, having no record of it. Examination of records determined Douglass was born in February 1818. Though the exact date is unknown, in later years Douglass chose to celebrate his birthday on FEB 14, remembering that his mother called him her "Little Valentine."
  • ARIEL WINTER (60A: "Modern Family" star) ARIEL WINTER plays the role of Alex Dunphy on Modern Family.
  • HELM (67A: Image in many nautical tattoos) The HELM is the steering mechanism of a ship. For some reason this answer gave me a lot of difficulty. I think I was just flummoxed that ANCHOR wouldn't fit.
  • SAGE (19D: Stuffing herb) Just yesterday I had the following conversation with my daughter, Leah. 
    • L: You know what spice I have recently discovered I like? SAGE! 
    • Me: Mmmm, SAGE always makes me think of stuffing.
  • OREO (26D: Cookie deep-fried at fairs) Ah, fairs and their love of deep-frying everything. I haven't tried a fried OREO, but one time at the Iowa State Fair I did try a deep-fried Snickers bar (on a stick, of course). It was a bit much.

    Geography review:
    • ERIE (32A: Great Lake named for an Iroquoian people) The ERIE people historically lived on the south shore of Lake ERIE. Today is the first November appearance of ERIE in the puzzle.
    • ASIA (2D: Home to about 60% of humans) While, as the clue indicates, it is home to about 60% of humans, ASIA accounts for about 30% of Earth's land area. Today is also the first November appearance of our crossword friend, ASIA. It is also only the second time since I've been blogging the puzzle that ERIE and ASIA have appeared in the puzzle together. (The first time was June 23.)
    • MIAMI (13D: Flagami's city) Flagami is a neighborhood of MIAMI, Florida.
    • TIBET (27D: Bonpos' home) Bonpos are followers of Bon, a Tibetan religion.
    • OHIO (58D: Kenyon College's state) Kenyon College is located in Gambier, OHIO. Well, hello, OHIO! So many of our geographic crossword friends are with us today.
    • ELM (61D: The ___ City (nickname for New Haven) New Haven, Connecticut had the first public tree planting program in America. Many of the ELM trees that gave the city its nickname have died as a result of Dutch ELM disease. 
    Today I correctly guessed the theme from the puzzle's title. That doesn't happen nearly as often as I think it should! It was a fun theme and I enjoyed discovering the seasonal answers, which were all delightful. I appreciated that only one of them was the name of a person. This puzzle was definitely not a NEW LOW in any sense, but I did enjoy that answer. The rhyming CAT SAT was fun, and I enjoyed seeing NIMOY and KAHLO references. All around, an enjoyable start to my Friday morning.