Title: KEEP YOUR I'S LOW
Constructor: Paolo Pasco
Editor: Erik Agard
Guest Blogger: Matthew Stock
TUTTI FRUTTI (3D: Rhyming ice cream flavor)
MAHI MAHI (15D: Fish in Hawaiian dishes)
TOMI ADEYEMI (25D: "Children of Blood and Bone" author)
MANI PEDI (35D: Hands-and-feet salon treatment)
Theme synopsis: Each themer is a two-word phrase in which both words end in "i" – since they're vertical in the grid, the "i"s are "kept low" at the bottom of each word in each themer.
And now a word from our constructor:
Paolo: seeded this puzzle after TOMI ADEYEMI did a talk for a school program, which was so good that as soon as it finished, i immediately messaged erik and queried a theme with her name. all this is to say thank you tomi, thank you erik, and read children of blood and bone
Things I learned:
- SELMA (28A: Alabama city where Annie Lee Cooper lived) Annie Lee Cooper was a Civil Rights leader in the 1965 Voting Rights Movement. She was portrayed by Oprah Winfrey in the 2014 film "Selma."
- SETH (68A: "Twilight" werewolf Clearwater) Seth, played by Boo Boo Stewart in the film adaptations of "Twilight," is considered one of the most adept shape-shifters in the saga. Per Edward Cullen, "he has one of the purest, sincerest, kindest minds."
- LILY (7D: Streamer Pichu) Lily Pichu is a Twitch streamer and YouTuber with ~1 million Instagram followers. She lives in L.A. with her pet Pomeranian, Temmie.
- LANA (19D: Actress Condor) Lana Condor played Jubilee (whose powers include "pyrotechnic energy blasts") in the 2016 film "X-Men Apocalypse" and starred as Lara Jean Song-Covey in Neflix's "To All the Boys I've Loved Before." I wasn't able to find out whether she had any pets.
- HANS (57D: Clever ___ (German horse)) Clever Hans was a real German horse that was thought to be able to do math until it was discovered that he was really just watching his trainer, who was involuntarily providing subtle cues to the horse of what to do. The Clever Hans effect, named for Clever Hans, is now the reason why researchers observe animals in isolated environments, where the possibility of their own actions influencing the animals (whether on purpose or by accident) is eliminated.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- BALL (5A: Sepak takraw item) Sepak takraw is an incredibly cool soccer-volleyball hybrid sport I've logged many YouTube hours on over the years. The ball in question is about the size of a large tangelo. 31 countries comprise the International Sepak takraw Federation – Thailand's mens and women's teams have won all four ISTAF World Cup championships to date.
- ICE HOTEL (56A: Lavish, chilly tourist spot) I've never been to a full-on ice hotel, but this giant hotel outside of Dallas holds an annual "ice!" exhibit where you borrow one of their big blue parkas and look at extravagant ice sculptures. There's also a giant ice slide at the end, which is fun.
- OCEAN (1D: Poet Vuong) Ocean Vuong's novel "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" (which got a shoutout in a recent USA Today puzzle by Brooke and me) was one of my favorite books I read last year. Would highly recommend, especially if you already enjoy seeing his name in puzzles!
- TUTTI FRUTTI (3D: Rhyming ice cream flavor) This, to me, SCREAMs jelly beans over ice cream. Anyone else?
- PET CAT (48D: Scratching post user) Thankfully, my cat Scotch does use the scratching post I got him over the summer. His favorite toys remain those that I did not buy him (cardboard boxes, ribbons, toys given to him by other people).
- ROW (61D: One of nine for a typical sudoku grid) Embarrassed to say that this threw me for a big ol' loop. Nine ... SQUARES? That doesn't fit ... DIGITS? That's too many letters, too ...
- SELMA (28A: See above) Selma is located 54 miles west of Montgomery in south-central Alabama. It calls itself the "Queen City of the Black Belt" on the city's website.
- ORE (31A: State next to Idaho (Abbr.)) Honestly, I really enjoyed happening upon this as a state abbreviation instead of the normal "unrefined metal" that we usually see in puzzles. Oregon the state is a much more evocative entry for me than ore the stuff.
- TUT (46A: Eygptian boy king). We've got Egypt! Using radar, archaeologists have concluded that there are no hidden rooms in Tut's tomb (or are there ... 🤔)