November 4, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LIVING ON THE EDGE (16A: Habitually taking risks)
WIN BY A HAIR (25A: Barely avoid defeat)
IN YOUR FACE (46A: Impossible to ignore)
WALKED A FINE LINE (57A: Threaded the needle)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer can be preceded by the word STRAIGHT. We have STRAIGHT EDGE, STRAIGHT HAIR, STRAIGHT FACE, and STRAIGHT LINE.

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • FED UP (1A: Sick and tired) "Ha!" That was my reaction to reading "sick and tired" as the first clue in this puzzle. I woke up at 3:30 this morning (after staying up later than usual, of course). I imagine I am not alone in feeling sick, tired, tense, anxious, disappointed, hopeful, nervous, and FED UP while waiting for all of the votes to be counted following yesterday's election. As I solved the rest of the puzzle, I saw many of the answers through the post-election lens. That's where I'm at. Consider this your warning. If you'd rather not read about the puzzle interpreted through this lens, you might want to stop reading now and come back to the blog tomorrow. 
  • IDINA (13A: Tony winner Menzel) There were a few breaths of fresh air in this puzzle - clues that did not remind me of the current state of our country. This was one of those. IDINA Menzel is a delight! She has played the role of Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, voiced the role of Elsa in the movies Frozen and Frozen II, and so much more. An amazing talent.
  • SNAP (15A: Break suddenly) I imagine many people are feeling at a point where they may SNAP. Be gentle with yourselves, friends, and be gentle with each other.
  • LIVING ON THE EDGE (16A: Habitually taking risks) Does it feel like we've been LIVING ON THE EDGE for quite some time? Just me? Issues of racism, homophobia, white supremacy, climate change denial, poverty, and more have been present in our country for a long time. They have become more visible in the past four years.
  • MOTIF (23A: Recurring theme) Yes, thoughts of candidates, elections, and results were a MOTIF in my brain as I solved this puzzle.
  • WIN BY A HAIR (25A: Barely avoid defeat) It has become clear that whoever our next president is, they will WIN BY A HAIR. At least if we're talking about the electoral college, which we must, as that is how our elections are decided. Now the popular vote is another story altogether...
  • IN A BIT (31A: "Soon") When will we know the results of yesterday's election? IN A BIT...
  • SATAN (36A: "Not today, ___!") The saying, "Not today, SATAN!" was popularized by Bianca Del Rio, the winner of season 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race. Since then, the saying has been used as a meme, printed on t-shirts, and been the title of an episode of the TV series Tales of the City. The saying is used to mean that you have managed to escape the malevolent forces of darkness. (I hope I can say this phrase soon...)
  • GLEE (41A: Sheer joy) Nope, not feeling it...not yet...
  • IN YOUR FACE (46A: Impossible to ignore) When the president of your country wants to stop the vote-counting process before all votes have been counted, that's pretty IN YOUR FACE and impossible to ignore.
  • NOSES (48A: Carrots, for snowmen) Another delightfully distracting clue.
  • IS IT (50A: "That so?") My response to much of what our current president says.
  • WALKED A FINE LINE (57A: Threaded the needle) Some (most?) politicians have WALKED A FINE LINE between serving their own interests and the interests of the country. And then there are those who have ignored the line altogether.
  • NECCO (64A: ___ Wafers) I had NILLA at first. After all, we just saw NILLA wafers in the puzzle with this exact clue a couple of weeks ago. This time, however, it was the recently discontinued (in 2018) but now back on the market (as of May 2020) NECCO Wafers. These wafers were first produced in 1847, 51 years before NILLA Wafers were initially made.
  • GANG (66A: The Sugarhill ___) The Sugarhill GANG is a hip hop trio whose songs include "Rappers's Delight" and "8th Wonder."
  • DIVA (3D: Beyonce song with the lyric "Stop the track, let me state the facts") "DIVA" is a song from BeyoncĂ©'s album, I Am...Sasha Fierce. Always a delight to see a clue referencing BeyoncĂ©. I am grateful to the journalists who are trying to stick to facts.
  • WHOOSH (6D: Sounds of a passing bobsled) WHOOSH! A fun clue and a fun word to say!
  • END OF AN ERA (10D: Significant transition point) Well, here we are. I am sincerely and fervently hoping for the the END OF AN ERA. I know it's not that simple, and the work will be ongoing, but I would like to see a new era begin.
  • DETRIMENT (33D: Harm) So much harm has been done recently (and honestly, for many years...) 
  • LIE (42D: More than stretch the truth) I don't even know where to begin with this one...
  • MOCKS (45D: Pokes fun at) When the president of a country MOCKS people, what does that say about the country?
  • SEE (49D: "Catch my drift?") SEE, I did warn you that I blogged about this puzzle through a post-election lens.

    Geography review:
    • DANE (35D: Person from Copenhagen) Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark.
    The theme of this puzzle definitely works, even if you aren't reading current events into every theme answer. While this puzzle didn't serve as a distraction from the post-election waiting for results, it did allow me to express some of my feelings, so I guess that's good. Waiting is hard. Hang in there while we wait for the votes to be counted. Every vote deserves to be counted. (A word of caution - please refrain from platitudes such as "It's all going to be okay." "Whoever wins, you will be fine." The fact of the matter is that those statements are not true for all people.) Be kind to yourself. Be kind to those around you. If you're still reading, thank you for sticking with me! 


    1. Thanks, Sally. I loved the lens through which you made your comments.


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