April 2, 2021


Constructor: Alina Abidi

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
PRIVATE SCHOOL (20A: Constance Billard in "Gossip Girl," for example)
SECRET SAUCE (37A: Ingredient for success)
CLASSIFIED ADS (55A: Craigslist listings)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer provides a reason something might be REDACTED - because it is PRIVATE, SECRET, or CLASSIFIED.

Things I learned:
  • PRIVATE SCHOOL (20A: Constance Billard in "Gossip Girl," for example) The Gossip Girl series of young adult novels are written by Cecily von Ziegesar. There is a TV series based on the books. The series focuses on the lives of a group of teenagers at the elite PRIVATE SCHOOL, the Constance Billard School for Girls. I'm familiar with the Gossip Girl series, because it was a favorite of my daughter's. I did not know that Constance Billard was the name of the school, but it was easy to deduce once a few letters were filled in from crossing answers.
  • PANEER (7D: ___ makhani (dish with cheese)) PANEER is a fresh cheese made from cow or buffalo milk. PANEER makhani is also called PANEER butter masala. The word "makhani" means "buttery" in Hindi. It is a creamy dish in Indian cuisine with a gravy made from butter, tomatoes, cashews, or cream. I like PANEER, and this dish sounds delicious.
  • ADAMS (54D: Gospel singer Yolanda) Yolanda ADAMS has been referred to as the "Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music." She is the host of a nationally syndicated radio gospel show, The Yolanda ADAMS Morning Show
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ALAN (15A: Computer scientist Turing) ALAN Turing was a mathematician, computer scientist, code-breaker, and logician. He is considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. ALAN Turing has been in the news recently, as the Bank of England recently unveiled a new 50 pound note that will feature him. In spite of his accomplishments, ALAN Turing faced government persecution during his lifetime because he was gay. Turing was treated quite horribly by the British government, and honoring him on a banknote doesn't make that right. He does deserve to be honored, though, so it's good to see him get this recognition. 
  • TEAM (16A: There's no "i" in it) Ha! A fun clue. I have good memories and funny stories about the saying, "There's no I in TEAM." Those stories have been REDACTED from this blog post, however...
  • KAL (27A: Actor Penn) KAL Penn played Lawrence Kutner on the TV show, House, and Kumar Patel in the Harold & Kumar movies. His character on House had to be written out of the show in 2009 when Penn accepted the position of Principal Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement for the Obama Administration. 
  • I SAY SO (52A: "Every little thing gon' be alright, 'cause ___" (Chloe x Halle lyric)) These lyrics are from the Chloe x Halle song, "I SAY SO."  I've written before about this type of clue, using song lyrics to clue common words, or in this case, a common phrase. I like this approach because it makes the clue interesting, but the answer is inferable from context even if you are unfamiliar with the song or the artist. 
  • CAMPUS (22D: University grounds) The location of CAMPUS crossing PRIVATE SCHOOL is a nice bonus!
  • SKI (23D: Bit of equipment for Lindsey Vonn) Lindsey Vonn is a former alpine SKI racer. Representing Team USA, she won the gold medal in downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics. During her career, she won a total of 82 World Cup victories.
  • AAS (42D: Furby batteries) Remember Furby, the furry toy originally released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics. The AA batteries powered its ability to speak. It was programmed to "learn" English (instead of Furbish) over time. In the first three years of production, over 40 million Furbies were sold. I never had a Furby, did you?
Geography review:
  • NAPA (5A: California wine country) Thanks to a combination of favorable climate,
    geography, and geology, NAPA Valley in California is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world. My daughter and I had a great time visiting NAPA in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm looking forward to a return visit.
  • SAO (48A: ___ Paulo) SAO Paulo is the most populous city in Brazil. It is an alpha global city, meaning it plays an important role in the global economic network.
  • TOMB (60A: The Taj Mahal, for Mumtaz Mahal) The Taj Mahal, in Agra, India, is the TOMB of Mumtaz, Mahal, favorite wife of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan.
  • ERIE (64A: Frightening-sounding Great Lake) The eerie sounding Lake ERIE is the shallowest and warmest of the five Great Lakes. 
  • UTAH (9D: Zion National Park's state) Zion National Park is the home of Zion Canyon, a canyon whose reddish-colored walls were eroded by the Virgin River. Zion National Park is one of five national parks in UTAH. The other four are Arches National Park (which was in the puzzle two days ago), Bryce Canyon National Park (which was in the March 25 puzzle), Capitol Reef National Park (which was in the September 22, 2020 puzzle), and Canyonlands National Park. It looks like we're waiting for a mention of Canyonlands National Park to collect all of the UTAH National Parks!
  • ORCA (32D: Seattle bus pass with a finned logo) The ORCA pass is the public transit smart card for the Puget Sound region of Washington, which includes the Seattle metropolitan area. ORCA stands for One Regional Card for All. It was nice to include the finned logo detail as a hint for those unfamiliar with the ORCA pass. 
  • ORE (62D: Neighbor of Idaho (Abbr.)) OREgon is also a neighbor of Washington, Nevada, California, and the Pacific Ocean.
My reaction to this puzzle does not need to be REDACTED; I thoroughly enjoyed solving this puzzle! I especially liked the cluing today which was playful. A few of my favorites were: LIAR (28A: "Pants on fire" person), ICE PACKS (33A: Physical therapist's freezerful), TADPOLES (3D: Future frogs), and ACORN (4D: Squirrel snack). A fun puzzle with a little SECRET SAUCE right in the middle was a delightful way to begin my Friday.