April 12, 2021


Constructor: Patrick Jordan

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
PLATINUM BLONDE (19A: Light hair color)
WORLD SERIES (32A: Little League Softball tournament)
DRIVING RAIN (40A: Inclement weather condition)
PERMANENT PRESS (50A: Anti-wrinkle washer cycle)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a type of RECORD. We have a PLATINUM RECORD, WORLD RECORD, DRIVING RECORD, and PERMANENT RECORD.

Things I learned:
  • ATLAS (29D: "___ of Peculiar Galaxies") A galaxy is a system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter that are gravitationally bound together. There are dwarf galaxies (with just a few hundred million stars!) and giant galaxies (with one hundred trillion stars). In 1966, an American astronomer named Halton Arp produced the ATLAS of Peculiar Galaxies. This catalog of 338 galaxies was published by the California Institute of Technology. The ATLAS presented photographs of examples of different kinds of structures found among galaxies, such as three-armed spiral galaxies, spiral galaxies with one heavy arm, and disturbed galaxies with interior absorption. The galaxies in the ATLAS are sorted by their appearance and assigned a number. Some galaxies are still known by their Arp number. If you check out theWikipedia page for the ATLAS of Peculiar Galaxies you can see photos of some of the types of galaxies. They are interesting to look at, as well as a reminder of the vastness of the amazing universe we are a small part of!
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • RIDE (12A: Splash Mountain, e.g.) Splash Mountain is a log flume RIDE at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The RIDE is based on the 1946 Disney movie, Song of the South, a movie that has long been criticized for its depiction of Black people and for romanticizing the antebellum South. Last year it was announced that the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions of the ride would be redone with a theme based on Disney's 2009 movie, The Princess and the Frog. 
  • POPS (22A: Father's nickname) and PAPA (50D: Father's nickname) I fell into the trap here, and incorrectly guessed PAPA as the answer for the first of these clues.
  • FAX (23A: Office transmission) As I filled in this answer I wondered, "Do offices still use FAX machines?" According to a HowStuffWorks article on the subject, the four major industries that still use FAXing are manufacturing, health care, finance, and government. The article also notes that about half of Japanese families use a FAX machine in their homes. 
  • WORLD SERIES (32A: Little League Softball tournament) The Little League Softball WORLD SERIES was first held in 1974, and is now held every August at Stallings Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina. (The 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) The tournament is for girls aged 11 to 12 years old. The 2019 WORLD SERIES was won by the Rowan Little League from Salisbury, North Carolina. I liked the choice to highlight the Little League Softball tournament in this clue, rather than Major League Baseball. (Nothing against MLB - go Cards! - but they receive plenty of recognition.)
  • TEA (35A: Green ___ mochi) Mochi is made of short-grain glutinous rice which is pounded into a paste and molded into cakes. Mochi can be made with various flavors, including green TEA.
  • SHOW (62A: "Love, Victor," e.g.) Love, Victor is a TV SHOW inspired by the 2018 movie Love, Simon. The SHOW follows Victor (played by Michael Cimino), a new student at Creekwood High School who is facing challenges at home and school and struggling with his sexual orientation. Victor learns about Simon's coming out story, and reaches out to him on social media. Nick Robinson plays the role of Simon, reprising his role from Love, Simon. He appears in the series mostly via voice-over narrating his messages to Victor.
  • FADE (10D: Burst ___ (haircut)) The burst FADE is a haircut for men that tapers the hair around the ear and down the neck.  While the burst FADE has traditionally been more common in hairstyles for Black men, Men's Hairstyles Now informs me that it can work for a variety of hair types, so you might see a PLATINUM BLONDE burst FADE. It tickled me that these two answers intersect.
  • SELFIE (14D: Picture that often has an arm in it) This clue made me laugh! I am notoriously bad at taking SELFIEs, and receive a lot of good-natured teasing about it from my children.
  • ART (38D: National Museum of African ___) The National Museum of African ART is part of the Smithsonian Institution, and is located in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall.
  • BERRA (48D: Yogi who coined the phrase "It ain't over till it's over") Yogi BERRA was a catcher for the New York Yankees for 18 seasons and the New York Mets for one season. He later coached and managed the Yankees, Mets, and Houston Astros. BERRA was known for his pithy statements while speaking to reporters. Other Yogi-isms: "It's déjà vu all over again." "Ninety percent of the game is half mental." "You can observe a lot by watching."
Geography review:
  • ALPS (38A: Weisshorn's mountain range) The Weisshorn is a major peak in the ALPS. It is located in Switzerland, and has a height of 14,783 feet.
What a nice RECORD COLLECTION! All of the theme answers were solid, and transformed into a nice set of new phrases. In addition to the theme answers, I enjoyed seeing SPANX, ZEST, WHIZ, and SELFIE. The grid is an interesting shape, too. Although it has traditional rotational symmetry, the L-shaped sets of black squares at the top and bottom of the puzzle almost make it appear as thought it has mirror symmetry. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Monday.