January 8, 2021

Title: D&D

Constructors: Brooke Husic & Rachel Fabi

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
DINE AND DASH (17A: Eat without paying the bill)
DOS AND DON'TS (31A: Behavioral guidelines)
DRAG AND DROP (46A: Move to a new folder, perhaps)
DONE AND DONE (60A: "Consider it handled!")

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a phrase consisting of two D words connected by the word AND.

And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke: Rachel and I have written a bunch of puzzles together—this is our second, and our published debut! We workshopped this theme for months with Erik before settling on how we wanted it to manifest, and I’m really glad we were so patient. Creating this together was a fantastic showcase of everything I love about Rachel as a constructor: her unwillingness to settle for anything less than amazing in both the theme set and fill, her masterful ability to create a grid around any seed, and her thoughtfulness and care when cluing (she’s going to call herself slow, but it’s thoughtfulness!). She's so good, and I learn a ton from her.
Rachel: This is my second D&D-themed USA Today puzzle, although today’s theme idea actually came from Brooke (shortly after I had told her, early in our friendship, about dungeon-mastering a campaign for my family on Zoom during the pandemic). Constructing with Brooke is A GODDAMN JOY because our favorite parts of the process are complementary—I love building a grid and moving black squares around, and Brooke is the queen of clue-writing. I am convinced that she’s the best (and MOST thoughtful) clue-writer in the game right now, and watching her fill a google doc with brilliant clues while I struggle with a handful is just an awe-inspiring experience. Such a boss!

We're so fortunate not only to have the privilege of constructing together but to have become friends over this past year, and we hope you enjoy this and inevitable future Husic/Fabi joints!

Things I learned:
  • RIRI (52A: ___ Williams, alter ego of Ironheart) In Marvel Comics, RIRI Williams is a 15-year-old super-genius who created a suit similar to the Iron Man Armor while she was an engineering student at MIT. One of the creators of the character was Eve Ewing, who we saw in the January 5 puzzle. A TV series, Ironheart, is in development for Disney+. Dominique Thorne will play the role of RIRI Williams.
  • SON (3D: Translation of "mwana") "Mwana" is the Swahili word for "SON." As I've mentioned before, I appreciate seeing some words from languages other than Spanish and French included in clues. Although I did not know this word, it was inferable once a letter or two was filled in from crossing answers. 
  • WARSAN (10D: "Conversations About Home (at the Deportation Centre)" poet Shire) WARSAN Shire's "Conversations About Home (at the Deportation Centre)" was inspired by a visit she made to the abandoned Somali Embassy in Rome. At the time some young refugees had turned the Embassy into their home, and the night before she visited, a young Somali had jumped to his death off the roof. This poem eventually became the basis for another poem titled "Home." Both of these poems include the thought-provoking lines, "No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark." 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ELVIS (14A: Name found in "travel visa") This clue made me chuckle. Perhaps ELVIS is alive and using a travel visa? 
  • ATONES (22D: Observes Yom Kippur) Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is a Jewish holy day. The day is observed by fasting and prayer.
  • IBIS (41D: Sacred bird) The IBIS is a long-legged wading bird. One species of IBIS, the African sacred IBIS, is known for its role in Ancient Egyptian religion. The Egyptian god, Thoth, was depicted as having the head of an IBIS. The bird was mummified by the Ancient Egyptians as an offering to Thoth.
  • ODIN (50D: Frigg's one-eyed husband) ODIN is a god in Germanic and Norse mythology. In Old Norse texts, he is portrayed as one-eyed, long-bearded, wearing a cloak and broad hat, and wielding a spear named Gungnir. 
  • AUDRE (54D: "Zami: A New Spelling of My Name" author Lorde) Zami: A New Spelling of My Name started a new genre which AUDRE Lorde called biomythography. It combines history, biography, and myth as it explores Lorde's childhood and early adulthood.
  • ORE (63D: Mountain resource in Catan) In the board game Settlers of Catan, there are five resources collected by players. Since I've begun blogging, we've seen WHEAT, WOOD, and ORE (this is the second appearance of ORE). I'm still waiting for BRICK and WOOL to complete a full set.
Geography review:
  • ARI (16A: The Grand Canyon State, on scoreboards) In addition to "The Grand Canyon State," Arizona's other nicknames are "The Copper State," and "The Valentine State."
  • IRAN (24D: Qom's country) Qom, located on the banks of the Qom River, is the seventh largest metropolis in IRAN, and is the capital of Qom Province.
You don't need to be a Dungeon Master, or a Dungeons & Dragons fan to enjoy today's puzzle. The theme answers are all solid, delightful D&D (or D AND D) phrases. I started to say what my favorite theme answer was, but truly I liked them all! (I did particularly enjoy that DRAG AND DROP sounds like DRAGON DROP.) In non-theme material, I enjoyed the answers WE GET IT and the GECKO/TANK pairing. Enjoyable cluing all-around. Solving this puzzle was a lovely way to begin my Friday morning. 


  1. I thought the theme would be something like this when Fabi stated that she wanted to do another D & D theme puzzle


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