Title: WHAT'S THE WORD?
Constructors: Rebecca Goldstein & Rachel Fabi
Editor: Erik Agard
MATTER OF OPINION (17A: Something debatable)
CATCH SOME Z'S (39A: Sleep)
POINT OF NO RETURN (64A: Last chance to turn back)
Theme synopsis: The first WORD of each theme answer can complete the phrase, "WHAT'S THE ___?" WHAT'S THE MATTER? WHAT'S THE CATCH? WHAT'S THE POINT?
Things I learned:
- DANA (71A: Fox'x X-Files partner) FBI special agents DANA Scully and Fox Mulder (played by Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny) are the main characters on the TV show The X-Files. The agents investigate unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena.
- NEF (66D: Actress and model Hari) Hari NEF played the role of Gittel on the TV series, Transparent, and is the first openly trans woman to sign an international modeling contract.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- MAN (21A: Lead-in to "-splain") HAHA - this clue made me laugh out loud! I imagine many women will have the same experience.
- PEI (45A: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame architect I.M.) The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio. (It's located on Lake Erie, if you're a crossword constructor looking for a clue for Erie.) The building designed by I. M. PEI was dedicated in 1995. PEI has said he "wanted to capture the energy" of rock & roll in the design of the building.
- EGAN (68A: "Manhattan Beach" author Jennifer) Jennifer EGAN's 2017 novel, Manhattan Beach won an Andrew Carnegie Medal, an honor recognizing the best books for adult readers.
- OREO (69A: Spam burger topping) After I read about the OREO-topped Spam burger last December, I predicted we would see this clue.
- CSA BOX (2D: Delivery from a local farm) CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA is a food delivery system that connects food producers (farmers) with consumers. When you join a CSA, you receive a CSA BOX on a regular schedule, that contains in-season fruits and vegetables. We have been CSA members for many years. I love supporting a farmer, developing a relationship with the people who grow my food, and receiving a variety of fresh food. Shoutout to "my farmer," Farmer Kate of Wild Woods Farm!
- ONO (Delicious, in Hawaii) ONO is an alternate name for the wahoo, a fish found in tropical and subtropical areas. In Hawaiian, ONO means "delicious," or "good to eat."
- I DIGRESS (11D: "But back to the topic at hand...") Here's another clue that made me chuckle. "I DIGRESS," could be the tagline of this blog!
- ANNETTE (13D: "The Kids Are All Right" actress Bening) ANNETTE Bening played the role of Dr. Nicole Allgood in the 2010 movie, The Kids Are All Right.
- COMEDIAN (39D: Tig Notaro or Hannah Gadsby) Tig Notaro has released several comedy albums, including the 2016 album, Boyish Girl Interrupted. Tig's 2012 album, Live, was performed just four days after the COMEDIAN was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hannah Gadsby is an Australian COMEDIAN whose Netflix special, Nanette, won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special.
- TIA (67D: "Family Reunion" star Mowry) In the TV series, Family Reunion, TIA Mowry plays the role of Cocoa, the mother of the McKellan family. TIA Mowry and her twin sister Tamera Mowry starred in the TV series Sister, Sister.
- RIO (34A: Where Katie Ledecky won four golds) Katie Ledecky is a Team USA swimmer who has won five Olympic gold medals and 15 World Championship medals. Four of her Olympic gold medals were won at the 2016 Summer Olympics in RIO de Janeiro, Brazil.
When I first started this puzzle, I thought WHAT'S THE WORD? was going to describe my solving experience - apparently my tired brain needed to CATCH SOME Z'S! It's a MATTER OF OPINION, but I loved this theme. I admit it took me a few minutes after I completed the puzzle (THE POINT OF NO RETURN?) to figure it out, which led to a lovely "Aha!" moment. There are many enjoyable non-theme answers here, too. In addition to those I highlighted above, I liked FOOLISH, HOT YOGA, and CLONED. The cluing was great, too! Congratulations to constructor Rebecca Goldstein on her USA Today debut! This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Monday.
If you're in the mood for more solving, I constructed today's Universal crossword. It's titled, "Growing a Garden."