February 8, 2021


Constructors: Matthew Stock & Brooke Husic

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
TRENCH COAT (17A: Film noir garment, often)
PIT ORCHESTRAS (26A: Groups accompanying ballets)
HOLE IN THE WALL (44A: Unpretentious place to eat)
DITCH PLANS (58A: Not show up to hang out)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is something that can be dug. YOU CAN DIG a TRENCH, a PIT, a HOLE, and a DITCH.

And now a word from our constructors:
Matthew and Brooke: It's always a joy to have a puzzle published together, and even more so when it keeps our "titles-ending-in-!" streak alive. Perhaps as a testament to our really positive collaborative energy, we can't really remember which of us came up with what entries and clues, but there's definitely plenty of personal touches throughout. Matthew's favorite AREPAS make an appearance, and, as you can expect from any Brooke puzzle, several remarkable people, from Ocean Vuong to EDITH Irby Jones, are featured. We're proud to make puzzles together for an outlet that celebrates diversity, encourages cultural inclusion, and, of course, lets us have a whole lot of fun together. A socially distant 31-Down to you—hope you found this puzzle 60-Down!

Things I learned:
  • ANA (40A: Motorcycle racing champion Carrasco Gabarron) ANA Carrasco Gabarron was the first woman to win a solo motorcycle road racing World Championship. In 2018, she won the Supersport 300 World Championship.
  • TAU (54A: Sculptor Lewis) TAU Lewis utilizes found, donated, and repurposed materials and fabrics to create intricate sculptural portraits and quilts. Her artwork has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the New Museum in New York City, as well as in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In learning about TAU Lewis I discovered one of her sculptures is at the Grinnell College Museum of Art in Iowa. I'm adding that to my list of things to check out post-pandemic. 
  • EDITH (36D: Physician and activist ___ Irby Jones) EDITH Irby Jones was the first Black person to attend and graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School, the first Black intern at Baylor College of Medicine, and the first woman president of the National Medical Association. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and a founding member of the Association of Black Cardiologists. EDITH Irby Jones died in 2019 at the age of 91.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • MORE (31A: Boston's "___ Than a Feeling") "MORE Than a Feeling," which was originally released in 1976, is one of the songs included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of "Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll." I've noted before that I'm a fan of using song titles to clue common words. The answers are often inferable even if you are unfamiliar with the referenced song, and it's a fun way to add interest to the puzzle. 
  • MFA (34A: Iowa Writers' Workshop degree) Oh, hey, I know of this program! The Iowa Writers' Workshop is a graduate level Program in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Alumni of the Iowa Writers' Workshop include current U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, as well as Rita Dove, and Jane Smiley.
  • SOO (37A: Phillipa of "Over the Moon") Over the Moon is a 2020 computer-animated movie. Phillipa SOO voiced the role of Chang'e, a mythical Moon goddess. Phillipa SOO also originated the role of Eliza Hamilton in the Broadway musical Hamilton
  • SIRI (61A: Virtual assistant who provided the voice of 'Puter in "The Lego Batman Movie") In The Lego Batman Movie, 'Puter is Batman's voice-activated valet. And here's a fun thing, if you have an iPhone, try saying, "Hey, SIRI - Hey 'Puter," or "Hey, SIRI - Hey Computer." It's an amusing way to spend a few moments.
  • AIMEE (63A: "Dexter" actress Garcia) In addition to playing the role of Jamie Batista on the TV series Dexter, AIMEE Garcia also plays the role of Ella Lopez on the series Lucifer.
  • WE'RE (2D: Ocean Vuong's "On Earth ___ Briefly Gorgeous") On Earth WE'RE Briefly Gorgeous is the debut novel of poet and novelist, Ocean Vuong. The book, published in 2019, is written in the form of a letter from a Vietnamese American son, nicknamed Little Dog, to his mother. I first learned about Ocean Vuong from the December 2, 2020 puzzle. At that time I also learned about the interesting Future Library Project which Ocean Vuong has been selected to participate in.
  • DIA (8D: ___ de la Revolucion) DIA de la Revolucion, or Revolution Day, is an official Mexican government holiday celebrated on November 20. The day marks the start of what became the Mexican Revolution.
  • OREO (12D: Cookie that's been kosher since 1997) Prior to this time, OREO cookies were made with lard. Under Jewish dietary laws, pigs - the source of lard - are a forbidden food. t took a period of three and a half years for all of the Nabisco production lines to be certified kosher. 
  • WALK (39D: Word that might excite a dog) Great clue! Many a dog owner has been trained to spell out the word WALK. 
  • WITH (46D: Sam Smith's "Stay ___ Me") Sam Smith's song, "Stay WITH Me," was released in 2014. This is another enjoyable "song title to clue a common word" clue. Sidenote: There are a lot of songs titled "Stay WITH Me."
  • AREPAS (47D: Corn cakes that might be served with nata) AREPAS are doughy Venezuelan treats made of ground maize dough. Nata is a type of clotted cream.
  • ACNE (53D: Salicylic acid target) Salicylic acid is an active metabolite of acetylsalicylic acid, more commonly known as aspirin. It is one of the drugs included in the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines. Salicylic acid is also a key ingredient in topical anti-ACNE products. (For a moment, the pharmacologist in me geeked out over this clue!)
Geography review:
  • TEL (24A: ___ Aviv, Israel) TEL Aviv is located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and is the economic and technological center of Israel.
  • ERIE (51D: Cleveland lake) Cleveland, OHIO is located on Lake ERIE. 
Yes, as a matter of fact, I CAN DIG this puzzle! TRENCH COAT and HOLE IN THE WALL were my favorite theme answers today. A couple of fun pairs in today's puzzle, with SALT and PEPPER MILL (with a fun clue!) and both EERIE and ERIE. I appreciated learning about EDITH Irby Jones today, and being introduced to the art of TAU Lewis. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Monday.

P.S. I've added a note to yesterday's blog post about the puzzle's theme. Thank you to those of you who commented  - those who helped figure it out, as well as those who helped me know I was not the only one that was stumped!