March 17, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
IN HOG HEAVEN (17A: On cloud nine)
BIRDS OF PARADISE (38A: Flowers named for a flying creature)
BARBARA EDEN (62A: "I Dream of Jeannie" actress)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is a synonym for SHANGRI-LA: HEAVEN, PARADISE, EDEN.

Things I learned:
  • ONO (4D: Sushi chef Jiro) Jiro ONO is the chef/owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. Considered one of the greatest sushi craftsmen, ONO is featured in the 2011 documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • THAI (7D: Like Ariya Jutanugarn) Ariya Jutanugarn is a THAI professional golfer on the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Tour. When she won the RICOH Women's British Open in 2016, she became the first THAI golfer to win a major championship.
  • NBA (46D: Org. in which Jenny Boucek coaches) Jenny Boucek is an assistant coach for NBA's Dallas Mavericks.
  • EAT (64D: Have some rendang, say) Rendang is a dish of meat that has been slow cooked and braised in coconut milk seasoned with herbs and spices. The meat is cooked until it is caramelized and most of the liquid has evaporated. Rendang is one of Indonesia's national dishes.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • IN HOG HEAVEN (17A: On cloud nine) Although Merriam Webster says "IN HOG HEAVEN" was first used in 1868, the exact origin of the phrase is unknown. In 1872, miners and farmers arriving in what would eventually become Moscow, Idaho, named the area HOG HEAVEN due to the abundance of camas bulbs in the area which their pigs liked to eat. The town's name was changed to Moscow in 1875, so you can no longer (literally) be IN HOG HEAVEN in Idaho.
  • BIRDS OF PARADISE (38A: Flowers named for a flying creature) The colorful BIRDS OF PARADISE flowers are native to South Africa, where it is commonly known as a crane flower, and is featured on the back of the 50 cent coin. The flower is named for BIRDS-OF-PARADISE found in Papua New Guinea and eastern Australia. The birds have long, exotic feathers extending from the beak, wings, tail, or head. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that the mention of BIRDS OF PARADISE always reminds me of the song my sister and I used to sing to annoy our mother. (Sorry, Mom!)
  • BARBARA EDEN (62A: "I Dream of Jeannie" actress) I previously wrote about the TV show, I Dream of Jeannie. BARBARA EDEN played the role of a genie set free from her bottle. Her 2011 memoir is titled Jeannie Out of the Bottle
  • TET (68A: Banh ___ (traditional Vietnamese New Year food) Banh TET is a cake made from glutinous rice rolled into a log-like shape, with a mung bean or pork filling. After boiling, the cake is sliced into wheel-shaped servings. 
  • HOLA (18D: Telemundo greeting) Telemundo is a Spanish-language TV network with headquarters in Miami, Florida. Telemundo broadcasts shows worldwide.
  • MARTIAL ART (28D: Aikido or capoeira, e.g.) Akido is a MARTIAL ART that originated in Japan, and places an emphasis on defending against and harmlessly redirecting attacks. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian MARTIAL ART combining elements of dance, acrobatics, and music.
  • HE'S (37D: "___ A Rebel" (Crystals hit) The Crystals were a girl group in the 1960s. Interestingly, although the 1962 song, "HE'S a Rebel," was credited to the Crystals, it turns out the song was actually recorded by another girl group, The Blossoms. I imagine there were some hurt feelings about that!
  • CYMBAL (47D: Instrument with a crash/ride variety) A crash CYMBAL produces loud "crashes," and is used for occasional accents. A ride CYMBAL maintains a steady rhythmic pattern. As the name implies, a crash/ride CYMBAL is designed to serve both of these functions as a part of a drum kit. 
Geography review:
  • NYU (20A: Biggest college in the Big Apple) New York University (NYU) was founded in 1832. NYU alumni include Robert Mueller, Alan Greenspan, and Suzanne Collins.
  • BOWIE (21A: ___ State University (Maryland school)) BOWIE State University is an HBCU (historically Black college and university) in BOWIE, Maryland. Alumni include Joanne C. Benson, Towanda Braxton, and Isaac Redman.
  • MST (52A: Boulder time zone, for short) Boulder, Colorado is on Mountain Standard Time (MST), except during Daylight Savings Time, when they are on Mountain Daylight Time (MDT).
  • ISLAM (53A: Predominant religion in Algeria) Algeria is a country in northern Africa. Algiers is its capital and most populous city. ISLAM, the official religion of Algeria, is the religion of 99% of its people.
  • OAHU (3D: Hanauma Bay island) Hanauma Bay is located on the southeast coast of OAHU, Hawaii. Home to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, the area is known for its abundance of Green sea turtles and parrotfish.
  • NATS (57D: D.C. baseball team) The Washington Nationals, or the NATS, are in the National League of MLB, and are based in Washington D.C. 
Did you feel like you were in PARADISE while solving this puzzle? The top center of this puzzle gave me some fits, so I had a few non-SHANGRI-LA moments. For some reason, I had trouble coming up with IN HOG HEAVEN. I kept wanting it to be "IN HIGH HEAVEN," which of course didn't fit. Once that got sorted out, everything was once again HEAVENly. This puzzle was an enjoyable start to my Wednesday.