January 20, 2021


Constructors: Stella Zawistowski & Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BLINDFOLD (17A: Item worn to swing at a pinata)
PRANK CALL (25A: Phoned-in practical joke)
COAT CHECK (47A: Place to leave outerwear)
CALF RAISE (56A: Soleus-working exercise)

Theme synopsis: The last part of each theme answer is a term you might use when playing poker. When playing Texas HOLD 'EM, for example, you might FOLD, CALL, CHECK, or RAISE.

And now a word from our constructors: 
Stella and Brooke: We had such a great experience when Stella edited Brooke's recent Inkubator puzzle that we decided to create a puzzle together (submissions are back open, so get on it!). Stella recommends "Sing for Your Life" to learn more about Ryan "Speedo" Green and is excited to highlight jewelry designer ANA Khouri in a puzzle. Brooke is also always happy to get music and fashion in a puzzle, and would like to remind the solver that polaroid pictures should *not* be SHAKEn, no matter what André 3000 tells you.

Things I learned:
  • BASS (29A: Voice range for Ryan Speedo Green) Ryan Speedo Green is a BASS baritone opera singer. In 2011 he was one of five winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The 2016 biography Stella mentioned above, Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family is written by Daniel Bergner. In 2018, Green was featured on 60 Minutes (which you can watch if you have CBS All Access.)
  • INCA (33A: Worshipper of Mama Quilla) Mama Quilla was the goddess of the moon in INCA mythology and religion. The INCA believed lunar eclipses occurred when Mama Quilla was being attacked by an animal.
  • ANA (40A: Jewelry designer Khouri) ANA Khouri launched her namesake jewelry line in 2013. She specializes in high-end jewelry "made exclusively with 18K Fairmined, Fairtrade gold or platinum and ethically and responsibly sourced gemstones."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CHILI (1A: Dish that's bean-free in Texas) For many years people have been arguing about who makes the best chili, whether it should be eaten with cinnamon rolls, and what ingredients are vital. Beans or no beans? I fall on the bean side of this argument. How about you? 
  • SULWE (2019 children's book by Lupita Nyong'o) We saw SULWE in a clue in the November 21, 2020 puzzle. When I saw this clue I thought, "I've written about this!" Still, I needed a couple of letters from crossing answers to jog my memory. SULWE is about a young girl who wishes her dark skin were lighter. It is a book about learning to love yourself.
  • TAE BO (23A: Portmanteau in fitness) TAE BO is a portmanteau of TAEkwondo and BOxing.
  • IOTA (32A: Vowel with three vowels) and IOU (57D: Reminder with three vowels) The clue for IOTA made me smile. It was fun to see the clue echoed for IOU.
  • ETHOS (34A:Companion of logos and pathos) ETHOS is a Greek word meaning "character." It is used to describe the guiding beliefs of a community. In rhetoric, the three modes of persuasion are ETHOS (moral character), logos (reason), and pathos (emotional appeal).
  • SHAWL (59A: Pashmina product) The word pashmina may refer to a variant of cashmere, a wool from a particular breed of goat (the Changthangi), or to a SHAWL made from the fiber.
  • HER (2D: I Used to Know ___" (2019 R&B album)) I Used to Know HER is an album by singer and songwriter H.E.R. 
  • SHAKE (30D: "___ it like a Polaroid picture") "SHAKE it like a Polaroid picture," is a line from the Outkast song, "Hey Ya!" However, as Brooke reminds us, giving a Polaroid picture a SHAKE does not have any effect on the speed at which the picture develops, and may actually damage the photo.
  • SONIC (31D: Amy Rose's hedgehog crush) In the SONIC the Hedgehog franchise, Amy Rose is a pink hedgehog, and the self-proclaimed girlfriend of SONIC.
  • SARI (55D: Dress worn with a choli) A choli is the blouse worn with a SARI.
Geography review:
  • IRISH (16A: From Dublin, say) Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland.
  • LUCIA (20D: Saint ___ (Caribbean nation)) Saint LUCIA is an island country in the Caribbean Sea. Its capital is Castries.
  • ALASKA (24D: Utqiagvik's state) Utqiagvik, ALASKA is located north of the Arctic Circle, and is the northernmost city in the United States. Referred to as "Barrow" from 1901 to 2016, in 2016, the city voted to restore its Iñupiat name.
For some reason I have the song "The Gambler" going through my head after solving this puzzle. ("You've got to know when to HOLD 'EM, know when to FOLD 'EM...") PRANK CALL was the first theme answer I discovered, so at first I thought the theme might be words following CLOSE, as in CLOSE CALL. However, discovering BLINDFOLD led me down the correct path. I enjoyed the non-theme answers of LASAGNA, SHE/THEY, and MEMOIR. Enjoyable cluing all around made the puzzle a delight. Solving this puzzle was a great way to start my Wednesday. Happy Inauguration Day! Today we will have a female Vice President. I was beginning to wonder if I would see that in my lifetime, and so today I celebrate.