February 2, 2021


Constructor: Amanda Rafkin

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
TWO-MINUTE DRILLS (20A: Certain clock management strategies)
TOO CLEVER BY HALF (39A: Overly shrewd)
TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT (55A: "A Visit From St. Nicholas" ending)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer begins with a homophone of the beginning of the word TUESDAY: TWO, TOO, TO.

Things I learned:
  • TWO-MINUTE DRILLS (20A: Certain clock management strategies) I easily filled this answer in, inferring the answer from the clue and some letters from crossing answers. And then when I looked it up to see exactly what TWO-MINUTE DRILLS are, I discovered it's a sports thing. Well, okay, add this to the list of things I've learned about sports from crossword puzzles! In this case, I was actually aware of the strategy, but I did not know there was a specific term for it. TWO-MINUTE DRILLS are a type of "hurry-up offense" used in football. When using this strategy, a team focuses on maximizing the number of plays for a scoring attempt before a game ends (or before half-time). A team may use time-outs, player substitutions, and clock-stopping plays to get in as many plays as possible. The strategy is often used by teams who are tied, or trailing by one point, with the ultimate goal, of course, to score and win the game. TWO-MINUTE DRILLS are so named because they are often employed after the two minute warning.
  • WES (29A: Actor Studi) WES Studi is a Cherokee actor and producer. He appeared in the movies Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Mohicans, and Geronimo: An American Legend. In 2019, Studi received an Academy Honorary Award, making him the first indigenous actor to receive an Oscar. (The first indigenous person to win an Academy Award was singer-songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie, in 1983, for the song "Up Where We Belong," which she co-wrote for An Officer and a Gentleman.)
  • DRUMS (4D: Instruments for Sandy West) Sandy West was a founding member of the female rock band, The Runaways. The other founding members of The Runaways were Joan Jett and Micki Steele.
  • ISABEL (47D: Pulitzer Prize winner Wilkerson) ISABEL Wilkerson is the author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Feature Writing in 1994, making her the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TIC (28A: "___-Tac-Dough" (game show)) The game show TIC-Tac-Dough was first produced in 1956, with Jack Barry as host. There have been three versions of the show (so far) - from 1956-1959, from 1978 to 1986, and in 1990. During the game show, contestants would answer questions in a variety of categories to put an X or O on the board, attempting to win a game of TIC-Tac-Toe.
  • ISLA (44A: Actress Fisher) ISLA Fisher's acting credits include playing Myrtle Wilson in the 2013 movie The Great Gatsby, and April Hoffman in  the 2008 movie Definitely, Maybe. She is also the author of the children's book series, Marge in Charge
  • SIR (46A: "Aaron Burr, ___") This is a song from the Broadway musical Hamilton
  • ENYA (61A: Irish singer who lives in a castle with her cats) ENYA has named her castle Manderley Castle, after the house from the book Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. And may I say that I would like to live in a castle in Ireland with cats!
  • BALL (62A: Twentieth-century chemist Alice) At the age of 23, Alice BALL developed a method of drug delivery that became the most effective treatment for leprosy during the early 20th century. This treatment eventually became known as the "BALL method," but not until many years later, as Alice BALL died shortly after developing the method, and her findings were published by someone else without credit given. Alice BALL was the first Black person and the first woman to receive a Master's degree from the University of Hawaii, and was the university's first Black woman chemistry professor. In Hawaii, "Alice BALL Day" is celebrated every four years on February 29. 
  • ALBUM COVER (5D: "Abbey Road" has a famous one) What a fun clue and answer! Here's a question to test your Beatles knowledge. Which Beatle is barefoot on the Abbey Road ALBUM COVER? You'll find the answer below.
  • NOISE (21D: "Bring in 'da ___, Bring in 'da Funk") Bring in 'da NOISE, Bring in 'da Funk is a musical that tells the story of Black history from slavery to the present. 
  • SIOUX (26D: Oceti Sakowin people) The SIOUX, or Oceti Sakowin, are groups of indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada. The SIOUX refer to the Great SIOUX Nation as Očhéti Šakówin, which means "Seven Council Fires."
  • OZONE LAYER (27D: Covering with a "hole" in it) The OZONE LAYER is a part of the Earth's stratosphere. One important role of the OZONE LAYER is that it absorbs most of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation, which would otherwise cause damage to plants and animals. This is a fabulous clue/answer pair, although there is nothing great about the hole in the OZONE LAYER. 
  • WORRY DOLLS (29D: Traditional Guatemalan stress relievers) WORRY DOLLS are small and usually hand-made. In Guatemalan tradition, a child tells their fears and sorrows to WORRY DOLLS, and then places them under their pillow before going to sleep. It is said that the WORRY DOLLS take away the sorrows and worries, so that the next day can be faced without them. 
  • CELLO (31D: Yo-Yo Ma's instrument) During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yo-Yo Ma has been playing his CELLO and sharing "Songs of Comfort." Here's one such offering. Enjoy. 
  • ACT (34D: Perform in the play "Sweat") Sweat is a 2015 play by Lynn Nottage. The play takes place in a fictional bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, and is centered on the working class. Sweat won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This clue could have read [Perform in a play]. I absolutely love that the clue was used to highlight a specific play, perhaps encouraging solvers to learn more about that specific play. 
  • COLIN (53D: Civil rights activist Kaepernick) In 2016, COLIN Kaepernick, who was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, began kneeling during the national anthem at the start of NFL games as a form of protest against police brutality and racial inequality. As I am sure you know, his actions received a lot of attention. Black Lives Matter.
  • TILL (60D: "___ There Was You" ("The Music Man" song covered by the Beatles) "TILL There Was You" was originally recorded in 1950 by Meredith Wilson and his orchestra and Eileen Wilson. It was covered by Anita Bryant in 1959, and by the Beatles in 1963. 
Geography review:
  • BALI (18A: Country that celebrates Nyepi) Nyepi is a "Day of Silence" commemorated each year in BALI. It is a day of fasting, meditation, and self-reflection. 
  • LAOS (51A: Only landlocked country in Southeast Asia) LAOS is bordered by Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. The capital of LAOS is Vientiane.
  • MIAMI (54D: City in "The Golden Girls") In the TV series, The Golden Girls, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia share a home in MIAMI, Florida.
Well, this is a perfect puzzle for a TUESDAY, isn't it? I enjoyed this theme, especially TOO CLEVER BY HALF. The puzzle is packed with lovely non-theme entries, too. So much good stuff here: ALBUM COVER, WORRY DOLLS, WORLD CLASS, OZONE LAYER. Solving this puzzle was definitely a delightful way to begin my TUESDAY.

Answer to Beatles trivia: In the image of the Beatles walking across Abbey Road in single file, Paul McCartney is barefoot (and also out of step with the others).


  1. I thought you meant by "Answer below" was that you were asking us readers to answer the question but I realized what you actually meant was that the answer to the question was at the bottom of the review

    1. Oh, I can see how that would be confusing! I'll revise that text. Sorry for the confusion. :-)

  2. One additional thing - Happy Birthday to Amanda Rafkin today! She's given us the present of this puzzle on her birthday!


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