December 30, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SMART MONEY (17A: Prudent investments)
GOLD RECORD (54A: Designation for a hit album)
POCKET VETO (11D: Legislative tactic)
DIGITAL ERA (27D: We're living in it)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a type of WATCH. We have a SMART WATCH, a GOLD WATCH, a POCKET WATCH, and a DIGITAL WATCH.

Things I learned:
  • TRACK (32A: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's milieu) Jamaican runner, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has won more global 100-metre dash (100 m) titles than any other female sprinter in history. She won  gold medals for the 100 m at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and is a four-time world champion in this TRACK event.
  • POEM (50D: Victoria Chang creation) Victoria Chang's fifth book of POEMs, OBIT, was published earlier this year, and is included in NPR's list of Best Books of 2020. The book is a collection of POEMs Chang wrote after the death of her mother.  
  • CHO (55D: Voice actor SungWon) SungWon CHO, also known as ProZD, is a voice actor and YouTuber. His voice roles include FL4K from Borderlands 3, and Johnny from OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes. He also does voice work for a number of video gaming companies. SungWon CHO began posting voice content to Tumblr in 2012. His first post to go viral was a video of him singing "Let It Go" as Goofy. You don't have to simply imagine that, you can listen to it here
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • FERAL (1A: Like some stray cats) A FERAL cat is one that avoids human contact, whereas some stray cats will interact with humans, and may have previously been pets. My cat thinks it is sad that not every cat has the pampered life she does.
  • RHEA (15A: Comedian Butcher) RHEA Butcher began their comedy career in Chicago, performing improv at The Second City. I first learned of RHEA from the August 22 puzzle. (And I actually remembered their name today!)
  • NORA (16A: Roberts in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame) NORA Roberts has written over 225 romance novels. In addition to writing under the name NORA Roberts, she also uses the pseudonyms J.D. Robb, Jill March, and Sarah Hardesty.
  • SMART MONEY (17A: Prudent investments) The term SMART MONEY refers to the funds under the control of institutional investors, central banks, and market mavens. There is also an indicator called the SMART MONEY index. (If I say much more than this I will quickly get into writing about things I don't fully understand!)
  • PLUMS (39A: Damsons and mirabelles) We saw PLUMS in yesterday's puzzle, too, clued as [Fruits of the genus Prunus].
  • RETIREE (41A: SilverSneakers participant, perhaps) SilverSneakers is a health and fitness program for adults aged 65 and over.
  • PO' BOY (43A: Muffuletta alternative) The PO' BOY and the muffuletta are both sandwiches traditionally associated with Louisiana. A PO' BOY sandwich consists of meat served on New Orleans French bread. A muffuletta consists of meat and cheese and a marinated olive spread, all sandwiched inside a split muffuletta loaf.
  • ELMO (2D: Wasabi-loving Muppet) It's true, ELMO loves wasabi, and he will also tell you sushi is a sometimes food, whereas broccoli is an anytime food.
  • APR (4D: National Pet Day mo.) National Pet Day is APR 11. However, if you have pets, you know every day is National Pet Day.
  • POCKET VETO (11D: Legislative tactic) In the United States, if a president does not sign a bill that Congress has passed, it becomes law after 10 days as if he has signed it. A POCKET VETO occurs if, at the end of the ten-day period, the bill cannot be returned to Congress because Congress is no longer in session. In that case, the bill does not become law, and must be reintroduced as a new bill by Congress in order to become law. A POCKET VETO can be avoided if Congress simply designates an agent to receive veto messages and other communications while they are not in session. Franklin D. Roosevelt has the most POCKET VETOes of any U.S. president - 263.
  • DIGITAL ERA (27D: We're living in it) This was my favorite clue in the puzzle. Fun and brilliant.
Geography review:
  • ERIE (12D: Lake south of Huron) Lake ERIE is the southernmost of the Great Lakes. This is the third appearance of our crossword-friend ERIE in December.
A nice theme today with solid theme answers. From a constructing standpoint, a set of four 10-letter theme answers is nice to work with. You can place two theme answers across and two down, as we see in today's puzzle, or place themers in the third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth rows, as we saw in Monday's puzzle by Mollie Cowger, which also had four 10-letter theme answers. (These aren't the only options.) Either of these two approaches has the benefit of allowing plenty of opportunity to work in non-theme bonus answers. Today we see the delightful answers LET'S NOT, BEER BRATS, TRUE STORY, and HOT SEAT. (Speaking of nice bonuses, I realized after posting Monday's blog that I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed seeing BOOYAH in the puzzle - such a fun word!) Solving today's puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Wednesday.