April 19, 2021


Constructors: Jess Goldstein & Olivia Mitra Framke

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (20A: Role that may be played in an argument)
TIGER'S EYE (31A: Quartz variety)
SPARKS FLY (45A: What happens between people who have good chemistry)
MAGIC MUSHROOMS (58A: Hallucinogenic fungi)

Theme synopsis: The STARTING word of each theme answer is the name of a professional sports team. We have LINEUPS from the New Jersey DEVILS (NHL), the Detroit TIGERS (MLB), the Los Angeles SPARKS (WNBA), and the Orlando MAGIC (NBA).

Things I learned:
  • ECHO (16A: Marvel character aka Maya Lopez) The Native American, ECHO, is the superheroine persona of Maya Lopez, one of the few deaf characters in Marvel Comics. ECHO wears a white handprint painted on her face as a reference to the bloody handprint her father, Crazy Horse, left on her face when he died. ECHO possesses the ability to perfectly copy other people's movements. In the upcoming Disney+ series, Hawkeye, ECHO will be played by Alaqua Cox.
  • SUI (23A: Fashion designer Anna) Anna SUI has known she wanted to be a fashion designer since she was four years old. She has certainly accomplished her goal - in 2009 she was honored with a CDFA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, she was named one of the "Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade." In addition to her own fashion line, Anne SUI has created lines of fashion accessories, cosmetics, fragrance, and footwear. The 2008 movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic, featured an Anna SUI store as part of the movie set. Some people were disappointed to discover the store didn't actually exist. 
  • SKA (41D: JER genre) JER is one of the professional names of Jeremy Hunter. Under the name of SKA Tune Network, Hunter does SKA covers of non-SKA songs (such as the Star Wars theme). As JER, Hunter performs original SKA music. JER also plays trombone in the SKA punk band, We Are the Union.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TIGER'S EYE (31A: Quartz variety) TIGER'S EYE is a variety of quartz with golden to red-brown color and a striped appearance. Ancient Egyptians used the gemstone to make eyes for statues of gods. 
  • DO IT (37A: 2020 Chloe x Halle hit) Chloe x Halle are an R&B duo of sisters. "DO IT" is a song from their second studio album, Ungodly Hour. The song inspired a dance challenge (#DOITchallenge) that went viral on TikTok. 
  • MAGIC MUSHROOMS (58A: Hallucinogenic fungi) MAGIC MUSHROOMS contain psilocybin, a prodrug that turns into the psychedelic substance, psilocin, when ingested. There are about 145 species of fungi that are considered MAGIC MUSHROOMS. I have recently started growing
    MUSHROOMS, but the ones I've been growing are not MAGIC MUSHROOMS! Growing MUSHROOMS is one of the quirkiest and coolest things I've done - they are amazing to watch grow. My husband and I grew these golden oyster MUSHROOMS from start to harvest in 10 days.
  • ENYA (63A: One-named Irish folk singer) Here's some ENYA singing "Orinoco Flow" to add some beauty to your day. 
  • TYLER (68A: "Criminal Minds" actress Aisha) Criminal Minds is a TV series following a group of criminal profilers working for the FBI. Aisha TYLER plays the role of forensic psychologist, Tara Lewis, who joined the show as a recurring character in season 11, and then a regular cast member in seasons 12 to 15.
  • SANSA (5D: Elder Stark daughter on "Game of Thrones") I have not watched Game of Thrones, but I've managed to pick up the names of some of the characters, and was able to fill in the name SANSA with just a couple of letters from crossing answers. SANSA Stark was portrayed by Sophie Turner in the TV series.
  • UCLA (9D: Gabrielle Union's alma mater) Gabrielle Union is an actress, voice actor, activist, and author. She played the lead character in the TV series, Being Mary Jane. Her 2017 memoir is titled, We're Going to Need More Wine. She wrote a children's book, Welcome to the Party, that was inspired by waiting for the birth of her daughter. Gabrielle Union has a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
  • TERI (31D: Hatcher who played Lois Lane) TERI Hatcher played the role of Lois Lane in the TV series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
  • EPA (36D: Green Chemistry Challenge org.) The Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are presented by the EPA to recognize chemical technologies that incorporate principles of sustainable chemistry, referred to as "green chemistry." You can read about the 2020 winners of the award here
  • SYNONYM (46D: Vivid, vis-a-vis vibrant) I really liked this alliterative clue!
  • SMILE (56D: Upside-down frown) If you've ever been told to, "Turn that frown upside-down," this clue either made you SMILE or cringe.
  • MEME (58D: The "this is fine" dog, e.g.) You've likely seen this meme. It depicts a cartoon dog sitting in a house on fire and saying, "this is fine." The dog first appeared in KC Green's 2013 webcomic, "On Fire." Since that time, the "this is fine" dog has been used in a variety of memes to indicate an inability to grasp the severity of a situation. I found an interesting article about the artist's decision to have the "this is fine" dog say "this is not fine" in 2016. 
Oh, a sports theme - that's right in my wheelhouse... Okay, it's really not, but it's a delightful theme, and SPARKS FLY clued me in to the theme. The theme answers are all enjoyable, and I liked that each one referred to a team in a different professional league. I also appreciated the cluing today - still thinking about [Vivid, vis-a-vis vibrant], and the answers BAD VIBE (none from this puzzle!) and PSYCH. Welcome and congratulations to constructor Jess Goldstein who is making her USA Today crossword debut! This puzzle was a lovely way to begin my Monday.