March 3, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
PUMP SOME IRON (20A: Lift weights)
SHOP TILL YOU DROP (39A: Mall regular's motto)
BRIDAL SHOWER (57A: Party often hosted by a maid of honor)

Theme synopsis: The CLOSING word of each theme answer is a type of CURTAIN. We have an IRON CURTAIN, a DROP CURTAIN, and a SHOWER CURTAIN.

Things I learned:
  • EDNA (24A: "The Country Girls" author O'Brien) The 1960 novel, The Country Girls, was the first book in a trilogy by Irish author EDNA O'Brien. The book tells the story of two Irish country girls who move to the city in search of love and adventure. During a time when women in Ireland did not have many rights, EDNA O'Brien wrote about sexual matters and social issues facing women. All three books of the trilogy were banned by the Irish censorship board when they were published.
  • LANE (67A: Jane's rhyming surname on "Daria") Daria is an animated TV show aimed at adults that originally aired from 1997 to 2002. The show was a spin-off from Beavis and Butt-Head. Jane LANE was an artist, and best friend of the title character. I was thankful for the hint about rhyming in this clue.
  • ERIN (68A: "The Boys" actress Moriarty) The Boys is a TV show based on the comic book of the same name that centers on a team of vigilantes who combat corrupt superheroes. ERIN Moriarty plays the role of Annie January/Starlight, one of the few superpowered individuals on the show who are not corrupt and are sincerely interested in helping the public.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CARP (1D: Gefilte fish option) Gefilte fish is made from a poached mixture of ground deboned fish. Traditionally, CARP, pike, mullet, or whitefish were used to make the dish.
  • THE (12D: "___ Boy Is Mine") "THE Boy is Mine" is a 1998 duet by Brandy and Monica. 
  • NADAL (53D: Tennis champ Rafael) Rafael NADAL has won 20 Grand Slam men's single tennis titles, which ties him with Roger Federer for the most titles won. NADAL, Federer, and Novak Djokovic are sometimes referred to as "The Big Three," in men's tennis. Of those three, NADAL is the only one who is left-handed.
  • BEAT (57D: "You Can't Stop the ___" ("Hairspray" finale) If you need a bright spot in your day, watch "You Can't Stop the Beat," a song The New York Times deemed a "contagiously elating finale" in its review of a 2010 production of the musical.
  • STEW (59D: Budae-jjigae, e.g.) Budae-jjigae, which translates to "army base STEW," is a spicy sausage STEW made with ham, sausage, spam, baked beans, kimchi, and gochujang. I first learned about Budae-jjigae from the November 18, 2020 puzzle
Geography review:
  • SRI (21D: First Lady of ___ Lanka) SRI Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. The First Lady of SRI Lanka is the term used to refer to the wife of the country's president. Although SRI Lanka has had a female president - Chandrika Kumaratunga (1994-2005) - she was a widow while in office, and therefore SRI Lanka has not yet had a First Gentleman.
  • EMU (31D: Bird on the Australian coat of arms) The Australian coat of arms features a shield depicting symbols of Australia's six states. The shield is held up by a kangaroo and an EMU.
  • RENO (58D: Nevada city on the Truckee River) The Truckee River is the only outlet of Lake Tahoe. The river extends from Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border to Pyramid Lake in Nevada, running through the city of RENO.
I don't really like to shop (and that was true even pre-pandemic), but I do like seeing the grid-spanning SHOP TILL YOU DROP across the center of this puzzle. I enjoyed this puzzle, partly because it reminded me of a puzzle of mine published last March with the same theme - a good memory! It's not unusual for constructors to come up with similar theme ideas, and it's interesting to me to see the different approaches and theme answers used. Zhouqin Burnikel and I used completely different sets of theme answers, and only two of our CURTAIN phrases were the same. I also included the word CURTAIN as a revealer in the puzzle. Enjoyable to see and appreciate that there are many ways to interpret a theme. (My puzzle isn't available online anymore, but you can see the grid on the Diary of a Crossword Fiend blog.) This puzzle was a fun way to start my Wednesday.