February 27, 2021

 Title: 227

Constructor: Erik Agard

Editors: Erik Agard

Guest blogger: Matthew Stock

Theme Answers:
IN MY OPINION (17A: "Personally, I think . . .")
AS IT HAPPENS (36A: "Funny you should ask . . .")
TO BE PRECISE (56A: "Let me get more specific . . .")

Theme Synopsis: Each answer is a three-word phrase that follows the enumeration (2, 2, 7).

Things I learned: 
  • MARLA (1A: "227" star Gibbs) Marla Gibbs is an actor and performer who both starred and produced the sitcom "227." It aired from 1985-1990 on NBC, and was about women who lived together in an apartment building numbered 227. Gibbs played Mary Jenkins and also sang the show's theme song, "There's No Place Like Home."
  • LYNN (29A: Singer Cheryl) Cheryl Lynn is an R&B singer who also played the Wicked Witch of the West in the traveling production of "The Wiz." Her 1978 single "Got to Be Real" reached No. 1 on the U.S. R&B chart and was certified platinum.
  • LEE (41A: Author Anna ___ Walters) Anna Lee Walters (Pawnee/Otoe-Missouria) is the author of the American Book Award-winning short story collection "The Sun Is Not Merciful." Her first novel "Ghost Singer" was published in 1988.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SITIN (6A: Seated protest) and FISTS (46A: Black Power salutes) really enjoyed the pairing of these answers, as well as a few other nice pairs — CENTS / DIME near each other on the right and ION / ATOM were also very nice. 
  • REESES (13D: Peanut butter cup brand) Big fan of all things Reese's, even the new cups that have the Reese's Pieces inside them. What's your favorite peanut butter/chocolate candy variety?
  • XOXO (48A: Letter signoff) This entry rocks, and the clue is also fun, since it can also be parsed as "a signoff made with letters."
  • TADA (24A: Self-satisfied exclamation) I did try YAY ME and I ROCK here before confirming that neither fit in four spaces, but eventually figured it out. TADA!
Geography review
  • SUCRE (38A: One of Bolivia's capitals) Sucre's partner capital is La Paz, which also makes frequent appearances in puzzles! Fun Bolivia fact: the country has over 30 (!) official languages, including the indigenous Quechua and Aymara.
  • POI (18D: Hawaiian paste) It appears that taro (from which poi is made) is not actually native to Hawaii, but rather south India. It was brought to Hawaii by Polynesians.
  • UTE (34D: Southern ___ Indian Reservation, Colorado) The Southern Ute Indian Reservation is on Colorado's southern border with New Mexico. It has a population of around 13,000.
  • LISBON (41D: Capital of Portugal) Another world capital! Lisbon (~500,000 people) is bigger than Sucre (~300,000) population-wise and is home to one of the largest aquariums in Europe.
Happy Saturday, y'all! Matthew back to help round out February on the best puzzle blog.
The USATXW is no stranger to pairing themes with specific calendar dates (this recent Amanda Rafkin banger comes to mind), and I couldn't be more of a fan of this trend. 2, 2, 7 phrases ... on 2/27 ... with a "227" reference leading off the puzzle at 1-Across?? Fantastic stuff. I especially love how lively the theme answers are — each a super in-the-language phrase with a great clue. The only other 2, 2, 7 I could come up with was IN AN INSTANT, which I also like but not as much as the ones used here. What a stellar find! The rest of the grid is delightful, with a nice visual X-ness in the block layout. All the thumbs up from me!

Elsewhere in puzzles, USATXW mega-star Brooke Husic dropped a very excellent themeless on her blog this morning. Check it out if you're up for a challenge!