November 27, 2020


Constructor: Amanda Rafkin

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
PERSONAL TOUCH (19A: Handwritten note, for example)
WRITTEN ORDERS (35A: Directives on paper)
LAB ASSISTANTS (53A: Experiment personnel)

Theme synopsis: INSIDE the theme answers, and spanning the two words of each phrase, we find the following VOICES: ALTO, TENOR, BASS.

Things I learned:
  • MR. DEEDS (24A: 2002 Sandler/Ryder flick) The 2002 movie, MR. DEEDS, is a remake of a 1936 Frank Capra movie, MR. DEEDS Goes to Town. The movie begins with the death of a multi-billionaire who has no immediate heir. Longfellow DEEDS, who runs a pizzeria in a small town, is discovered to be the multi-billionaire's grand-nephew. Adam Sandler received a Razzie Award for Worst Actor for his portrayal of MR. DEEDS.
  • CRISS (40A: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" star Darren) Darren CRISS played the role of Hedwig on Broadway from April to July in 2015. CRISS also played Blaine Anderson on the TV series Glee. 
  • ANA (52A: "Love, Victor" actress Ortiz) On the TV series, Love, Victor, ANA Ortiz plays Isabel Salazar, the mother of the title character. Ortiz previously played the role of Hilda Suarez on the TV series Ugly Betty.
  • ILONA (56A: Drag performer Verley) ILONA Verley competed on the first season of Canada's Drag Race, a reality TV competition based on RuPaul's Drag Race. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SUN RA (15A: Jazz composer named for an Egyptian God) I don't know if you, as a reader, are learning anything from my blog, but I am definitely learning a lot from writing it! I learned about SUN RA, leader of the Arkestra, from the November 21 puzzle. More impressively, I remembered him and was able to easily fill in this answer today.
  • HEIDI (32A: Evan's mom in "Dear Evan Hansen") I've seen the musical Dear Evan Hansen, but could not remember the name of Evan's mom. I highly recommend the musical - once live theater is a thing again - which does an excellent job of dealing with topics of anxiety, peer pressure, and social media influence.
  • ARIEL ( 34A: Disney mermaid) In contrast to the previous clue, I have not seen The Little Mermaid in its entirety. And yet, I easily remembered the name ARIEL. I credit her frequent crossword appearances.
  • GEE (50A: "___, Officer Krupke") "GEE, Officer Krupke" is a song from the musical West Side Story
  • STUD (15D: Identifier for some Black lesbians) A STUD is a Black masculine lesbian.
  • NOT IT (20D: "Nose goes" exclamation) I was not familiar with "nose goes" (also known as the "nose game") until I was an adult. I suspect its popularity is regional. Nose goes is a method for choosing who is to do an unwelcome task. The last person to touch their nose is the (un)lucky winner of the game.
  • RITES (38D: Bat mitzvah and Jatakarman, e.g.) Bat mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual for girls. Jatakarman is a Hindu rite to celebrate the birth of a child.
  • EBAY (49D: "Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese" site) In case you were wondering, the grilled cheese sandwich which bears the image of the Virgin Mary sold on EBAY for $28,000 in 2004. (It was 10 years-old at the time and has one bite taken out of it.) The online casino, bought the sandwich.
  • AREA (55D: "Blackpink in Your ___") Blackpink in Your Area is the debut album of the South Korean girl group, Blackpink. I first learned about Blackpink from the November 9 puzzle. This is a type of clue that is inferable once you fill in a letter or two from crosses, even if you are unfamiliar with the album reference.

    Geography review:
    • DEL (64A: Playa ___ Rey, Los Angeles) Playa DEL Rey, whose name is Spanish for "the King's beach," is a coastal neighborhood in Los Angeles, California.
    • SAN (12D: The "S" in SFPL) That's the SAN Francisco Public Library.
    When I saw the title of INSIDE VOICES, the thought crossed my mind that I was going to be super impressed if there was a phrase which concealed the word "soprano." Unsurprisingly, there isn't. However, the remaining set of singing VOICES - ALTO, TENOR, and BASS - made a lovely theme set. I appreciate the extra care to arrange the VOICES according to their range, with ALTO appearing highest in the puzzle, and BASS appearing lowest. I enjoyed the cluing of the puzzle, which was inclusive and also playful in spots (looking at you, grilled cheese). It definitely had the stamp of an Amanda Rafkin puzzle with multiple theater references. One of the joys of working puzzles by multiple constructors is getting to know their "puzzle personalities." Answers I particularly enjoyed today included THINK TANKS, TEXT ME, and RUN ALONG. This puzzle was a delightful way to start my Friday.


    1. I also remembered SUNRA from the earlier puzzle. Good review

      1. Hooray for us for learning new things (and sometimes remembering them)!

    2. Hi, Sally. I hope you had a happy holiday. I may be revealing my age but I don't quite understand how "Be Real" and "Get a Ride" are stand-alone phrases. I've certainly heard of "Get Real" and "Hop a Ride" but not the phrases Amanda uses. Can you explain and/or comment? I, too, had never heard of "Noses Goes." That entry baffled me. I wish I could remember answers previously encountered--as you mention with "Sun Ra." I always look up clues/answers I don't recognize...after I finish the puzzle. But, I then tend to immediately forget them. Aging brain, I guess. David

      1. Hi, David. I did have a nice, rather quiet, holiday - thanks. I think of "BE REAL," as a phrase said to challenge someone who has made an outrageous statement. Though the phrase is familiar to me, I admit it's not one I frequently use, as I believe I'm only about a decade younger than you! As for GET A RIDE, I imagine it may be a more modern take on "Hop a Ride."


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