May 20, 2021


Constructor: Caitlin Reid

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
PENNY PINCH (17A: Be frugal)
BELLYACHE (37A: Whine incessantly)
HEART SMART (61A: Good for the ticker)

Theme synopsis: The REAR part of each theme answer is a synonym for PAIN: PINCH, ACHE, SMART.

Things I learned:
  • NEAR BEER (47A: Low-alcohol brewski) The term "NEAR BEER" was originally used in the 1920s, during prohibition in the United States. Mass-marketed malt beverages with little or no alcohol content were officially classified as "cereal beverages." Legally, companies were not allowed to label the beverages as "BEER." The public, however, referred to such drinks as "NEAR BEER." The term was revived in the late 2000s and early 2010s as several major breweries began to once again market non-alcoholic BEERs.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • MOBS (1A: Flash ___ (seemingly spontaneous public performances)) It's been a bit since I've thought about flash MOBS - not too many happening recently, for obvious reasons. 
  • OREO (14A: Cookie similar to an Annie's Grabbit) Annie's website describes Grabbits as "your family's favorite cookies" packed "with all the goodness of Annie's." And they have a rabbit stamped on the cookie! (I chuckled when I went to the Annie's website and got a message asking me to "Accept All Cookies." Yes, please! Oh, not those kind of cookies...)
  • ISAAC (15A: "Shaft" composer Hayes) ISAAC Hayes was a singer, songwriter, actor, and producer. He composed the musical score for the 1971 movie, Shaft, and won a Grammy Award for Best Original Song for the "Theme from Shaft." Today I learned that ISAAC Hayes and I share a birthday (although he was born a few years before me)! Additionally, Hayes was my maiden name. Coincidentally, it was 32 years ago today that I changed my last name from Hayes to Hoelscher. (My husband and I seriously considered using Hayes as our last name. In the end, we opted for having to spell our last name every time... It's worked out okay.)
  • FEEL (21A: "I ___ your pain") A nice way to tie in the clue with the puzzle's theme. I enjoy when constructors find ways to add bonus theme material.
  • YOLO (41A: Modern "carpe diem") "Carpe diem" is Latin for "seize the day." YOLO = you only live once.
  • SON (51A: Spanish for "are," or English for "hijo") This was a creative way to clue SON. I enjoyed the Spanish to English/English to Spanish take. It's a nice idea to combine two clues that could stand on their own.
  • KACEY (8D: Country singer Musgraves) KACEY Musgraves' 2018 album, Golden Hour, won the Grammy, CMA (Country Music Association), and ACM (Academy of Country Music) awards for Album of the year. The album includes the songs, "Butterflies," and "Space Cowboy."
  • CATNAP (12D: Very short rest) Willow is a fan of this clue.
    Cats do like to nap, sometimes in interesting places. 
  • LILY (29D: Actress Collins) LILY Collins played the role of Rita Alexander in the 2020 movie, Mank. She also plays the title character in the TV series, Emily in Paris. LILY made her acting debut at the age of two in the BBC series, Growing Pains. 
  • RITA ORA (40D: "How We Do (Party)" singer) "How We Do (Party)" is a single from RITA ORA's 2012 debut studio album, Ora. My biggest challenge with this answer was getting my brain to parse it correctly. RI TAORA? RIT AORA? RITAORA?
  • PEN NAME (42D: George Eliot, for Mary Ann Evans) Mary Ann Evans contributed pieces to The Westminster Review as Marian Evans. Under the PEN NAME, George Eliot, she wrote novels, including Middlemarch and Silas Marner
Geography review:
  • IRAN (16A: Neighbor of Pakistan) In addition to Pakistan, IRAN's neighbors include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan.
  • TIBET (45A: Where Losar is celebrated) A Tibetan Buddhist festival, Losar is also known as Tibetan New Year. It is celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, the holiday falls in February or March.
I do not feel the need to BELLYACHE about this puzzle. In spite of its PAIN IN THE REAR title, the puzzle was enjoyable to solve. This puzzle was a nice way to begin my Thursday.


  1. thank you as always for the writeup, and great 7xword today! happy anniversary!


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