April 29, 2021

Title: TIE ME UP

Constructor: Brooke Husic & Amanda Rafkin

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SECOND STRING (20A: Like a backup quarterback)
TWITTER THREAD (36A: Series of posts on "the bird app")
PUZZLE RIBBON (52A: Autism awareness symbol)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is an item you could use to TIE something (or someone!) UP. We have a choice of STRING, THREAD, or RIBBON.

And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke & Amanda: Welcome to the next stage in our now-quite-steamy adventure together! When we last left off, we were engaging in some Pillow Talk, and now things have really escalated to the next level. In terms of the grid, we were happy to find an OPI color that spoke to Brooke's life experience, and to highlight one of Amanda's favorite poems in the MEN clue (Andrea Gibson - "To the Men Catcalling My Girlfriend as I'm Walking Beside Her" - YouTube). We both loved to find a home for LGBT in the grid (and in a place of honor!), to clue ARC as [Rainbow shape], and to see Erik's great edit on OUT. Stay tuned for our next installment! :)

Things I learned:
  • RAVE (15A: Party where Kandi bracelets are traded) Kandi bracelets are made from plastic beads strung on elastic string. They can range from a simple string of beads to elaborate designs and patterns, and some contain messages spelled out with letter beads. There is an entire culture surrounding the making and exchanging of Kandi bracelets at RAVEs, with rules about who to trade Kandi with, a motto (PLUR = Peace, Love, Understanding, Respect), and a ritual of hand gestures associated with the act of trading. 
  • ICELANDER (18A: Dadi Freyr or any of his bandmates) ICELANDERS Dadi Freyr and his band, known collectively as Dadi & GagnamagniƵ will represent Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. Their song for the competition is titled "10 Years." The Eurovision Song Contest is organized by the European Broadcasting Union, and has been held annually (with the exception of 2020) since 1956. Eurovision is hosted by the country which won the previous competition. This year's contest will be held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands May 18-22.
  • SESAME OIL (57A: Fragrant ingredient in pai huang gua) Pai huang gua, a dish originating in Chinese cuisine is also known as "Smashed Cucumbers." Made with SESAME oil and garlic, it sounds delicious. 
  • ANNA (19D: Civil rights leader ___ Arnold Hedgeman) ANNA Arnold Hedgeman was appointed to a position in the Health, Education, and Welfare Department in President Harry Truman's administration. She was also the first Black woman to hold a cabinet post in New York, serving on the cabinet of New York city mayor, Robert F. Wagner, Jr. ANNA Arnold Hedgeman was a civil rights leader, and her portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OPI (23A: Nail polish brand with the color Berlin There Done That) In case you're wondering, the color of OPI's Berlin There Done That nail polish is taupe. 
  • NAACP (24A: Image Award org.) The 52nd NAACP Image Awards were presented in March of this year, and included the presentation of a Social Justice Impact Award to Stacey Abrams
  • TWITTER THREAD (36A: Series of posts on "the bird app") I couldn't decide whether it was more amusing that this clue referred to TWITTER as "the bird app," or that I immediately knew what that meant.
  • GIA (49A: Gunn who said "Let me feel my oats!") I first learned about DRAG queen GIA Gunn from the January 31, 2021 puzzle. GIA Gunn competed on RuPaul's Drag Race and several other shows, and is known for her catchphrases, including, "Let me feel my oats!"
  • PUZZLE RIBBON (52A: Autism awareness symbol) The PUZZLE RIBBON was adopted by the Autism Society in 1999 as a sign of autism awareness. 
  • TARO (4D: Root also called cocoyam) TARO is a root vegetable, and is believed to be one of the earliest plants cultivated for food. 
  • MAR (12D: Nowruz mo.) Nowruz is the Iranian New Year, which occurs on the vernal equinox.
  • OUT (30D: ___sports.com (home of the podcast "The Trans Sporter Room") The Trans Sporter Room is a weekly OUTsports podcast covering news of transgender athletes.
  • LIN (40D: Basketball star Jeremy) Jeremy LIN is a professional basketball player who has played for multiple teams, including NBA's New York Knicks and L.A. Lakers, and Chinese Basketball Association's Beijing Ducks.
  • ZEUS (53D: God who's alphabetically last of the 12 Olympians) I know this clue may have made you wonder which god is alphabetically first of the 12 Olympians. The answer is Aphrodite. Five of the Greek Olympian Gods have names beginning with the letter A: Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, and Athena. Zeus is the only Z god.
Geography review:
  • NEPAL (48A: Kathmandu's country) Kathmandu is the capital and largest city of NEPAL. Kathmandu is known as the city of temples because of it is the location of numerous Hindu and Buddhist holy sites.
  • GREECE (2D: Kalamata's country) One of the things the city of Kalamata, GREECE is known for is Kalamata olives. 
So far this year we've been treated to collaborations by Brooke and Amanda titled Head Start and Pillow Talk. And now...TIE ME UP. Well, that escalated quickly - ha! This was a fun take on a category theme with an enjoyable set of themers. I also enjoyed the long entries ZEN GARDENS and DRIFT APART. (Is the latter a hint to where this story is headed?) This puzzle was a great way to start my Thursday. 


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