February 13, 2021


Constructor: Evan Kalish

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
CLEA DUVALL (16A: "Happiest Season" director)
CASTS A SPELL (26A: Performs some magic)
CAPITOL HILL (43A: U.S. Senate's place)
COTTON BALL (56A: Makeup removal aid)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer either begins with C- and ends with -ALL, or begins with CA- and ends with -LL. Therefore, the word CALL is SHOUTing on the OUTer edges of the theme answers.

And now a word from our constructor:
Evan: I developed this theme to incorporate 16-Across, whose performances I’ve enjoyed in “Veep” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” My favorite entries are 9- and 22-Down, and honestly, I kind of like that cheeky little J as well. Clue-wise, I’m thrilled with 38-Across; the “Watchmen” reference in 14-D; and (I believe, according to the “cluer” database) the new clues for 41-A and 52-D.

Things I learned:
  • CLEA DUVALL (16A: "Happiest Season" director) In the TV series, VEEP, CLEA DUVALL plays the role of Marjorie Palmiotti. She made her directorial debut with the 2016 movie, The Intervention, in which she also starred. The 2020 movie, Happiest Season, was co-written and directed by CLEA DUVALL.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • YETI (13A: Legendary Himalayan beast) YETI, also known as Bigfoot or the Abominable
    Snowman, is a creature in Himalayan Folklore. My husband and I recently encountered YETI while on a snowy hike in the woods. Our county's Conservation Department is having a "Great YETI Hunt" this winter to encourage people to get outside and explore. 
  • LILY (18A: Tomlin of "The Magic School Bus Rides Again") The animated TV series The Magic School Bus Rides Again, is a continuation of the earlier series The Magic School Bus. Ms. (Valerie Felicity) Frizzle is now a Professor with a Ph.D., and has retired from teaching elementary school. Never fear, she hires her younger sister, Miss (Fiona Felicity) Frizzle, to teach the class. LILY Tomlin voices the role of Professor Frizzle, and Kate McKinnon voices the role of Miss Frizzle. Here's another fun thing - the opening theme of The Magic School Bus Rides Again is performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • TORUS (38A: Doughnut shape that sounds like a Zodiac sign) I appreciated the extra hint in the clue that this shape sounds like a Zodiac sign (Taurus), as although I know the word TORUS, if it had been clued simply as [doughnut shape], I would definitely have needed some crosses to come up with the word.
  • CASA (39A: "Mi ___ es su ___") "Mi CASA es su CASA." "My house is your house." It's a lovely sentiment, and once we're all vaccinated, I will gladly entertain you all in my house.
  • ROAD (41A: "Everyday is a Winding ___" (Sheryl Crow hit)) "Everyday is a Winding ROAD" was a 1996 single off of the album, Sheryl Crow
  • BRIE (63A: "Captain Marvel" star Larson) The movie Captain Marvel is based on the Marvel Comics character Carol Danvers. The story is set in 1995, and tells how Danvers becomes Captain Marvel. BRIE Larson trained for months to play the role of Captain Marvel, learning judo, boxing, and wrestling.
  • LENT (65A: Forty-day lead-up to Easter) LENT begins each year on Ash Wednesday, which this year is February 17. If you count the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, which falls on April 4 this year, you will get 47. That's because Sundays are not counted in the calculation of the period of 40 days which comprise LENT. 
  • ATE (3D: Enjoyed Sadhya) The word Sadhya means "banquet" in Malayalam, a language spoken in  the Indian state of Kerala. Sadhya consists of a variety of vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf.
  • TIARA (4D: Plastique ___ ("RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant) Plastique TIARA was a contestant on Season 11 of RuPaul's Drag Race
  • LISTS (31D: Many Mental Floss articles, e.g.) Mental Floss is an online magazine and an e-commerce media company. Its articles include a variety of LISTS on subjects ranging from "10 Foods You Can Safely Eat After the Expiration Date" to "20 of the Most Valuable Video Games That Could Be Hiding in Your Closet."
  • OPAL (51D: Valuable stone in "Uncut Gems") Uncut Gems is a 2019 movie starring Adam Sandler as a jeweler who must retrieve a rare black OPAL to pay off his gambling debts.
Geography review:
  • TAHOE (14A: Second-deepest lake in the United States) Lake TAHOE lies between Nevada and California in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. When I read a clue that describes something as the "second" of anything, I immediately want to know what is first. This time, I happened to already know the answer! The deepest lake in the United States is Crater Lake, in Oregon, the title attraction of Crater Lake National Park.
  • ASIA (54A: Pakistan's place) Pakistan is in South ASIA. Its capital is Islamabad.
  • NYC (1D: The Big Apple, for short) New York City's nickname, "The Big Apple," originated in the 1920s in reference to prizes available for horse races held in the city. The nickname was officially adopted in 1971 as a part of a marketing campaign to increase tourism to NYC.
  • TULSA (14D: "Watchmen" setting) The TV series Watchmen focuses on racist violence in TULSA, Oklahoma. 
  • SAUDI (29D: Riyadh resident) Riyadh is the capital of SAUDI Arabia.
  • TROPICAL (38D: Like Tahiti and Aruba) Tahiti and Aruba are both TROPICAL islands. Tahiti is located in the Pacific Ocean in French Polynesia. Aruba is located in the Caribbean Sea.
My favorite theme answer today was CASTS A SPELL. I also like how the entries in the puzzle's first row form NEAT PATH WAYS. I also liked the answer HELIPAD. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Saturday.