November 23, 2020

Title: WHEEL OF...

Constructor: Alina Abidi

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MAKE A FORTUNE (19A: Strike it rich)
SAY CHEESE (35A: Words before a flash)
FROZEN IN TIME (55A: Like something preserved in 36-Down)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer can complete the phrase WHEEL OF... We have a WHEEL OF FORTUNE, WHEEL OF CHEESE, and WHEEL OF TIME.

And now a word from our constructor:
Alina: I liked having some silly clues in this puzzle, like 5A and 66A. 66A was my favorite early childhood book, and the title just makes me laugh everytime I see it. I was worried it might be too niche, but Brooke assured me that it was inferrable and fun!
I was also happy to highlight Jhumpa Lahiri in 26D — she's probably my favorite author. The Namesake highlights the first and second generation immigrant experience so brilliantly, in a way that my parents relate to, and I relate to, and helps us relate to each other. I probably cried at least once per chapter. When I first started reading it, I casually recounted a few scenes to my friend in the library while we were doing homework, and we both ended up crying. I'm getting teary-eyed just writing this!

Things I learned:
  • CHO (33D: Amadeus aka the Hulk) Amadeus CHO is a Marvel Comics character who succeeded Bruce Banner as the Hulk. This occurred in 2015 in The Totally Awesome Hulk #1. Other aliases of Amadeus CHO (whose parents loved Mozart's music) are Iron Spider, Mastermind Excello, Prince of Power, and Brawn. This was interesting to learn. My knowledge of the Hulk is mostly from watching Bill Bixby portray The Incredible Hulk on TV. I was unfamiliar with the new Hulk, but am intrigued as I read about the storyline.
  • MAE (39D: "Good Girls" star Whitman) MAE Whitman plays the role of Annie Marks on the TV series Good Girls. She also played the role of Mary Elizabeth in the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
  • ZINE (56D: DIY publication) I first learned the word ZINE from playing Scrabble. It is a helpful word to know. I assumed (correctly) that the word was a shortened form of magazine (like za for pizza - another helpful Scrabble word.) Thanks to today's puzzle I now know it has a more specific meaning. A ZINE is specifically a small-circulation, self-published work. ZINEs often serve as a means of communication among subcultures, and their content may include fan fiction, poetry, political ideas, etc. As you can imagine, the Internet has resulted in fewer printed ZINEs, as much of the content has moved online.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • RENE (23A: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" painter Magritte) The Treachery of Images is a 1929 painting by RENE Magritte. The painting is of a pipe above the words, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." The English translation of the French phrase is "This is not a pipe." I adore the silliness and mind-bending quality of this painting, and like to imagine what Magritte was thinking about as he painted it. 
  • CAPTCHA (30A: "I'm not a robot" test) Ah, yes, the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. 
  • MBA (39A: Great Zimbabwe University offering hidden in this clue) Located in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University is one of a number of universities opened by the government after Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.
  • TYPE (66A: "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That ___") "Click, clack, moo. Click, clack, moo.
    Clickety, clack, moo." If you are not familiar with this book, please do yourself a favor and find a copy to read! Like Alina, the title of this book also makes me laugh. My memories of this book are of reading it to my children. After I solved the puzzle, I found the book so I can read it after finishing this write-up. It's delightfully silly.
  • THE (26D: "___ Namesake" (Jhumpa Lahiri novel)) Clues such as this are one of the reasons I enjoy working crosswords constructed by a variety of constructors. Each constructor brings their own experience to selecting answers and writing clues. I appreciated Alina's notes about what this book means to her. I am always grateful when constructors send me notes on their puzzles and give us insights into the process.
  • ADA (41D: Civil rights law that turned 30 in 2020, for short) The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability. I am amazed by how young this law is. 
  • DELETED (46D: Removed from the blog) [This content has been DELETED.]

    Geography review:
    • LAKE (4D: Erie or Tahoe) Well, today our crossword friend Erie is a clue rather than an answer.
    When I saw the title I expected to see a FORTUNE phrase, and I was not disappointed. The thought of a WHEEL OF CHEESE makes me happy. WHEEL OF TIME is a less familiar phrase to me, but it "rounds" out the theme nicely. Smooth fill all around today, and delightful cluing. I enjoyed LUCKY ME and I'M FINE. I will always choose to have my desserts ALA MODE when that's an option. I believe this is Alina Abidi's first USA Today crossword. Welcome, Alina! This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Monday morning. (Now I am going to read Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That TYPE.)


    1. Thanks Sally! Glad you liked it :)

    2. Great blog today. Slight correction that is was "WHEEL OF TIME" not "WHEEL OF LIFE" .

    3. A typo again ? I swear I usually type better than this. Wish I could edit my comments.


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