November 19, 2020


Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BOLD STATEMENT (19A: Hot take, maybe)
BORSCHT BELT (36A: Catskills region)
BOLSHOI BALLET (54A: Russian dance company)

Theme synopsis: The word BOLT has been "CUT" by the theme answers, resulting in some of the letters appearing at the beginning of the answer, and the remaining letters at the end.

Things I learned:
  • ALEXA (17A: "Bomb" K-pop artist) "Bomb" was the 2019 debut single for ALEXA (who styles her stage name as AleXa). Born and raised in Oklahoma, ALEXA currently lives in South Korea, where she has competed in the reality TV competitions Rising Legends and Produce 48
  • HULA (5D: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu's dance form) Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu is a Native Hawaiian māhū, a traditional third gender person. She is known for her work as a HULA teacher. Wong-Kalu is the subject of the documentary movie, Kumu Hina
  • EAT (21D: Have sinigang, say) Sinigang is a Filipino stew. The characteristic sour and savory taste is a result of the use of tamarind or other sour fruits and leaves.
  • POLO (33D: Neku Atawodi-Edun's sport) Neku Atawodi-Edun is a Nigerian POLO player. She was the first Black female POLO player to play professionally. She has played POLO in 14 different countries. In addition to her POLO accomplishments, Neku Atawodi-Edun is an entrepreneur, and has regularly spoken at Forbes Africa events. 
  • WATERS (48D: "Cabin in the Sky" star Ethel) Ethel WATERS played the role of Petunia Jackson in the 1943 movie, Cabin in the Sky. WATERS was also the first Black person to star in their own TV show, The Ethel Waters Show, which aired on June 14, 1939. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • A TO Z (18A: From ___ (completely)) Anytime I see this answer in a crossword, my biggest challenge is parsing it as A TO Z, instead of reading it as ATOZ.
  • IRISES (22A: Parts of cameras or eyes) I had LENSES at first, which also fits the clue and is the right length. Tricky, tricky.
  • TEN (27A: Perfect Pitchfork rating) Pitchfork is an online publication perhaps best known for its music reviews. The site reviews albums - new releases as well as retrospective reviews of classics - on a scale from one to TEN. A perfect score of TEN is rare. The most recent album to receive a perfect TEN rating (in an April 17, 2020 review) was, appropriately for this puzzle, Fiona Apple's FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS. A nice hidden gem, Paolo. Well done!
  • BOLSHOI BALLET (54A: Russian dance company) The BOLSHOI BALLET, based in Moscow, Russia, was founded in 1776. In 2000, the BOLSHOI BALLET opened an academy in Joinville, Brazil.
  • SWAN (9D: Common origami bird) If you'd like to try your hand at making an origami SWAN, here's a link to some instructions. I enjoy origami. When I was writing children's curriculum, I earned a reputation among my fellow writers for including origami activities whenever I could. Origami instructions are extremely difficult to write, particularly without including photos. One of my editors cringed whenever I included an origami activity. I never wrote instructions for an origami SWAN, however. A missed opportunity, perhaps.
  • PEZ (12D: Candy in dispensers) PEZ dispensers! I saw a comment on social media the other day asking if anyone actually put PEZ candy in the dispenser. I did! So much fun to dispense it. 
  • CAT SITS (14D: Keeps an eye on Mr. Whiskers) We saw the past tense -
    CAT SAT - just six days ago. You can see that my CAT, Willow, is thoroughly impressed by this trend. 
  • OREO (55D: Cookie sometimes dunked in orange juice) As I read this clue, I was reminded of the uproar caused when a clue linked OREO cookies and mustard, and I thought, "Here we go again!" Sid Sivakumar, here's an idea for your next Twitch stream! (See Sid's guest blog post here.)
Geography review:
  • ST. PAUL (31A: Minnesota's capital) ST. PAUL and its twin city, Minneapolis, are divided by the Mississippi River, with ST. PAUL to the east, and Minneapolis to the west of the river. Although ST. PAUL is Minnesota's capital, Minneapolis is its largest city.
  • BORSCHT BELT (36A: Catskills region) BORSCHT BELT is a colloquial term for the now mostly defunct summer resorts that, from the 1920s to 1960s, were popular vacation spots in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.
I was so intrigued by the title of this puzzle. I wasn't sure whether to go out in our garage and search for BOLT CUTTERS, or proceed with the puzzle. As you can see, I proceeded with the puzzle, and I'm glad I did! BORSCHT BELT and BOLSHOI BALLET are interesting themers, each a BOLD STATEMENT, you might say. I enjoyed the discovery of the hidden layer of theme with the clue for TEN. (It did make me wonder how many hidden references I miss in crossword puzzles.) Not to BELABOR a point, but there was a lot to like in this puzzle. From A TO Z, it was a delightful start to my Thursday morning.