February 28, 2021

 Title: TURN BAD

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Guest Blogger: Brooke Husic

Theme Answers:
SODA BOTTLE (17A: Recycling bin item)
LIVED ABROAD (30A: Resided in a foreign country)
I NEED A BREAK (48A: Words from the weary)
PANDA BEARS (65A: Bamboo-loving animals)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains the string DAB which is BAD backwards, or TURNed.

Things I learned:
  • EELS (16A: Jang uh gui fish) Jang uh gui is broiled and grill eel.
  • ANTS (19A: Insects known to take power naps) Today I learned! Apparently ants nap in a staggered way so it's never the case that all of the group is sleeping.
  • OPERA (20A: Anna Netrebko's music) Anna Netrebko is a Russian/Austrian opera singer/soprano. She did not speak German or live in Austria when she applied for dual citizenship, but rather claimed that it was difficult and humiliating to continually obtain the visas required for her performances abroad as a Russian citizen only.
  • EDGES (40A: Pasek and Paul musical with the song "Lying There") Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are a songwriting pair who have written "Edges," "Dear Evan Hansen," and other musicals. "Edges" was their first collaborative work, which they wrote when they were freshmen at the University of Michigan because they were unhappy with the roles they earned when trying out for the school's theater production. I don't know the context of the song "Lying There," but the lyrics feature a narrator singing about someone sleeping soundly and contrasting that person's deep sleep with their own sleeplessness.

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • WISH (56A: Something often made with closed eyes) I loved this clue!
  • HOLI (64A: Start-of-spring festival) This year, Holi is on March 29 (and celebrations often begin the night before).
  • DELTA (15D: Fourth Greek letter) and IOTA (57D: Ninth Greek letter) The Greek alphabet has 24 letters. DELTA is the only "d" sound, whereas IOTA is a short "i" and eta is a long "i" — at least in Ancient Greek. I'm not sure about Modern Greek.

Geography review (and more random thoughts/interesting things):
  • ILIAD (14A: Poem about the Trojan War) Speaking of Greek, Troy was located in what's now western Turkey.
    OSU (28A: Sch. in OK) Oklahoma State University has six locations (four universities and two health institutions) across the state of Oklahoma.
  • ALA (59A: Tuskegee's state) Tuskegee comes from the Creek word Taskeke. Tuskegee is home to Tuskegee University, which was founded by Lewis Adams and then developed and led by Booker T. Washington. George Washington Carver later taught there.
  • RENO (10D: Nevada city) I have to imagine that Sally's gone through basic Reno facts before so I will just say that I have frequently been to Reno and it's very flat. I have often made the Reno <> Lake Tahoe drive and after going through the Carson Valley it stops being flat. As altitude increases (Lake Tahoe is about 6000 feet above sea level) the flora change a lot.
  • OMANI (28D: Resident of Yemen's northeastern neighbor) Oman and Yemen both border Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Sea. Yemen also borders the Red Sea and Oman borders the UAE. Apparently there is a Yemen/Oman meme that I did not know about until just now because I am not very cool! It's a play on the country names sounding like "Yeah man" and "Oh man" and — forgive my increasing uncoolness as I explain the meme — a disappointing thing is written next to a map of Oman and a silver lining/bright side thing is written next to a map of Yemen. Okay, that's all I got. Goodbye fellow kids.
  • OCEAN STATE (32D: Nickname for Rhode Island) I definitely put in LITTLE RHODY first but alas there were not enough letters. In 2016 Rhode Island spent a ton of money revamping its brand image and produced this logo that sort of looks like a sailboat and also weirdly says the words "cooler & warmer"?!?! I believe/hope the design got scrapped.
  • BEL AIR (50D: "Fresh Prince" neighborhood) Bel Air is in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Apparently "Fresh Prince" was often filmed in Brentwood, a different but nearby neighborhood.
Hi team! This is old news by now, but the Boswords Spring Themeless League starts tomorrow and you should do it! It's pretty rare that themeless puzzles are clued at an easy level ("smooth" in Boswords terms) so this is a great opportunity to solve easier themeless puzzles. I'm glad Matthew teed me up yesterday to shout out *his* puzzles today — check out his and Quiara's Atlantic puzzle and his Universal offering. On the harder side, I'm really hype about Ryan McCarty's new blog and the great Paolo Pasco's most recent two puzzles on his blog (I mean, also all of them). There's a ton of great puzzle energy right now and you can get a list of daily puzzle links emailed to you daily by Matt Gritzmacher.

I really liked the elegance of TURNing BAD here, and as you've heard me say for the past two Sundays, I love Burnikel puzzles. This was a breezy solve and a great way to start my morning. 

xoxo, Brooke