March 25, 2021

Title: END OF THE ROAD

Constructor: Hannah Slovut

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LEFT AT THE ALTAR (19A: Broke up with, in a way)
GUEST STAR (33A: Actor who's not part of the regular cast)
AIR GUITAR (43A: Imaginary instrument)
BRICK AND MORTAR (54A: Like a store that's not just online)

Theme synopsis: TAR, something that is part OF THE ROAD, is found at the END of each theme answer.

Things I learned:
  • PUG (4A: Doug the ___ (celebrity dog)) Wikipedia informs me that Doug the PUG is "the most followed PUG on the internet." Just how many PUGs are on the internet? (Okay, I got curious, googled it, and discovered 21 Famous PUGs to Follow on Instagram in 2021. And yes, Doug the PUG is number 1.) Doug the PUG lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where, in 2019, the mayor declared May 20 as "Doug the PUG Day." Doug's owner, Leslie Mosier, has written several books about him, including Doug the PUG: The King of Pop Culture, Doug the PUG: Food for Thought, and I Am Doug the PUG.
  • BRUH (54D: BET series connected to "Sistas") The TV shows Sistas and BRUH are both written and executive produced by Tyler Perry. Sistas focuses on the stories of a group of single Black women united by the question, "Why am I single?" BRUH examines the careers, friendships, and dating lives of a group of Black men. KJ Smith plays the role of Andi Barnes on Sistas, and is a GUEST STAR in the role on BRUH.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HI HO (12A: ___! Cherry-O (board game)) In this classic board game, players start with an empty basket and 10 cherries on their tree. Each player takes turns spinning a spinner which determines whether cherries are picked and placed in the basket, or returned from the basket to the tree. The first player to "pick" all of the cherries from their tree shouts, "HI HO! Cherry-O." This answer sent me down memory lane! The board game, HI HO! Cherry-O has been around since 1960, which means I played it as a child. One of my grandmothers had the game, and we would play it when we were at her house. 
  • CATAN (18A: Board game with hexagonal tiles) Another board game clue. Settlers of CATAN is a bit more complicated than HI HO! Cherry-O! Regular readers of the blog may remember that I'm working on collecting a complete set of CATAN resource puzzle appearances
  • LEFT AT THE ALTAR (19A: Broke up with, in a way) Well, that is one way to end a relationship, isn't it? This clue made me chuckle. 
  • PGA (69A: Org. in golf or moviemaking) PGA might stand for Professional Golfers' Association or Producers Guild of America. It might also stand for Parliamentarians for Global Action, a non-profit group of parliamentarians advocating for human rights, non-discrimination, and gender equality. 
  • GUPTA (25D: Medical reporter Sanjay) Sanjay Gupta is the chief medical correspondent for CNN, in addition to being a practicing neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and an associate professor at Emory University. Here's a couple of trivia tidbits about Dr. Gupta: He say's he never drinks hot beverages because it takes too long to drink them. He also never kills bugs.
  • PODCAST (42D: "Still Processing" or "You're Wrong About") Still Processing is a New York Times PODCAST hosted by Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris. The two hosts interview guests and talk about the culture of TV, movies, books, and music, and also the culture of work, dating, the internet, and more. You're Wrong About, hosted by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes, explores misunderstood media events such as Enron, the Challenger Disaster, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the Y2K Bug. 
  • GERM (44D: Wheat ___) Wheat GERM is a part of a wheat kernel that is involved in helping the plant reproduce. Although wheat GERM is usually removed during the milling of refined grain products, such as white flour, it is a concentrated source of nutrients. Whole-grain wheat products retain the wheat GERM.
Geography review:
  • OPAL (38A: Australia's national gemstone) Australia is a major source of OPAL. In legends told by indigenous Australian peoples, the colors of the OPAL were created when rainbows touched the earth. There are many varieties of OPAL, including black, white, gray, and green. Black OPAL is considered the rarest. 
  • UTAH (5D: State home to Bryce Canyon National Park) Distinctive geological structures called hoodoos are a distinctive feature of Bryce Canyon National Park in southeast UTAH. Hoodoos are tall thin spires of rock.
  • RENO (55D: City near Lake Tahoe) RENO Nevada has five sister cities (relationships that promote cultural and commercial ties): Hatzor HaGlilit, Israel; San Sebasti├ín, Spain; Taichung, Taiwan; Udon Thani, Thailand; and Wirral, England.
This is a lovely set of theme answers, particularly the jilting LEFT AT THE ALTAR and the playful AIR GUITAR. A couple of nice long bonuses in SHIFT GEARS and DNA TESTING. Nice cluing and answers all around made this an enjoyable way to start my Thursday.

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