May 19, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LITTLE IN COMMON (19A: Not much overlap)
I'LL HAVE THE USUAL (40A: Regular customer's request)
DOUBLE STANDARD (58A: Criterion applied inconsistently)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is a synonym for AVERAGE: COMMON, USUAL, STANDARD.

Things I learned:
  • COAT (34A: Amauti, e.g.) An amauti is a parka worn by Inuit women. The COAT features an oversized pouch below the hood that is used to carry children up to about two years of age. 
  • DUO (54A: Aly & AJ, e.g.) Aly & AJ is the stage name of sisters Alyson and Amanda Michalka. The Pop DUO released their most recent album earlier this month. It has been 14 years since their previous album, Insomniac, was released. Their latest album is titled A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into the Sun. This title inspired me to look up the longest album title, and I learned that in 2008, the band Chumbawamba set a Guinness World Record for their 156-word long album title. Anyway, back to Aly & AJ... I was not familiar with this DUO, but the answer was inferable from the clue.
  • ESME (69A: "Hanna" actress Creed-Miles) Hanna is a TV series based on a 2011 movie of the same name. In the TV show, ESME Creed-Miles plays the 15-year-old title character, a girl who was part of a CIA program designed to breed super-soldiers, but was rescued by a man named Erik when she was an infant. After fleeing with her, Erik raises and trains Hanna to be a killer and hunter.
  • SONIA (52D: Granddaughter of Professor Magnolia) Professor Magnolia and her granddaughter, SONIA, are Pokémon characters first introduced in the 2019 video games Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HAIKU (18A: Poetic form similar to tanka) Both HAIKU and tanka are genres of Japanese poetry. 
HAIKU have three lines
Count the syllables - you'll see
five, seven, five - whee! 

On the other hand
tanka have five total lines
with syllable counts
of five, seven, five, and then
seven and seven again. 
  • SOUL (22A: Genre for Roberta Flack) Roberta Flack won back-to-back Grammy Awards for Record of the Year for her 1973 song, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," and her 1974 song, "Killing Me Softly with His Song." She was the first artist to win Record of the Year two years in a row, and only two artists have done so since, U2 and Billie Eilish.
  • EEK (24A: "Look, a spider!") and AWW (25A: "Look, a baby panda!") This was a lovely, perfectly placed pair of clues that elicited a "Ha!" from me.
  • ISLA (36A: Actress Fisher) ISLA Fisher's acting credits include the role of Henley Reeves (The High Priestess) in the 2013 movie, Now You See Me. She also voiced the role of Dr. Mary Lou LaRue in the 2008 animated movie, Horton Hears a Who.
  • ODIE (44A: Garfield's fellow housepet) There happened to be a copy of Garfield makes it big on the bookshelf next to me as I was writing this, so I flipped through it to find a strip featuring ODIE.
  • PESTO (4D: Green sauce originated in Genoa) Traditionally, PESTO consists of garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, basil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese blended together into a sauce. 
  • PAELLA (5D: Valencian rice dish) PAELLA takes its name from the wide, shallow pan used to make it. "PAELLA" means "frying pan" in Valencian. PAELLA valenciana consists of rice, green beans, peas, lima beans, and meat (rabbit, chicken, and sometimes duck) cooked in olive oil and chicken broth. The yellow color of the dish comes from saffron. 
  • ANIME (10D: "My Neighbor Totoro," etc.) I learned about My Neighbor Totoro from the October 10, 2020 puzzle. 
  • SUGAR RUSH (37D: Result of eating too many egg tarts) I tried to make "stomach ache" fit here, but SUGAR RUSH works, too. In Cantonese cuisine, egg tarts are custard-filled pastries.
Geography review:
  • TULSA (20D: Second largest city in Oklahoma) The 2020 Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma declared that eastern Oklahoma, including TULSA, is legally Native American land.
  • AMES (61D: College town west of Cedar Rapids) Cedar Rapids, Iowa is the second largest city in Iowa, second to Des Moines, the state's capital. To provide some perspective, the population of Cedar Rapids is 122,808, compared to the population of New York City, which is over 8.4 million. AMES, about 100 miles west of Cedar Rapids, has a population of approximately 66,000, and is the home of Iowa State University.
This puzzle is the COMMON, USUAL, STANDARD crossword offering from Zhouqin Burnikel, meaning that it is not ABOUT AVERAGE, but rather above AVERAGE. This is a great set of theme answers. ALL IS WELL here, with the enjoyable SUGAR RUSH. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Wednesday. KUDOS!


  1. (AMAUTI) CoAT + RoTIS was a natick (unknown and unguessable both ways) for me. Never heard either word before, so had to look amauti up.

    1. I learned about ROTI from the USA Today puzzle last year (, and today I learned about the amauti.


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