May 3, 2021


Constructor: Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
DINNER'S READY (18A: "Come eat!")
QUIET ON THE SET (35A: Director's "Shush!")
PLEASE DON'T GO ("I really want you to stay")

Theme synopsis: At THE END of each theme answer, we find words to BEGIN a race. READY...SET...GO!

And now a word from our constructor:
Brooke: Alina's awesome "It's Showtime!" puzzle inspired me to think more about what phrases already exist as sets of three words (cf. "Janken" from a couple months back). Having only three theme answers allows for a lot of fun in the rest of the fill — I love the QIGONG / QUINTUPLED intersection and the ever-important reminder to STAY CLASSY. I always like to reference songs in puzzles, and 31A and 56D are great ones. I also was happy to clue I BET non-sarcastically. I'm a bit worried about the 51A / 2D interaction but I'm hoping it turned out all right in the end...

Things I learned:
  • QIGONG (27A: Chinese exercise) QIGONG has its roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts. The exercise incorporates moving meditation, rhythmic breathing, and flowing movement to cultivate and balance qi ("life energy").
  • SUCH (31A: "They will see us waving from ___ great heights") This line is from the song "SUCH Great Heights" by the indie pop band The Postal Service. I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of using song lyrics to clue common words. It makes for interesting clues, and the answer is often inferable even if the song is unknown to you. And, these type of clues have the bonus of introducing me to new music!
  • RASA (40A: Aesthetic essence in Indian art) RASA means "juice, essence, or taste." In Indian art, it is used to refer to the part of a visual, literary, or musical work that evokes a response in the audience but cannot be described. 
  • DIETS (41A: Low-FODMAP and others) A low-FODMAP DIET restricts fermentable carbohydrates. This diet is used for the short-term management of symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Because of the DIET'S effects on gut microbiota, it is recommended this DIET only be used under the advice of a specialist. FODMAP was a new acronym to me; it stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Thank goodness for acronyms!
  • SIT-IN (504 ___ (1977 disability rights protest)) The 504 SIT-IN began on April 5, 1977. People with disabilities occupied U.S. federal buildings in order to protest the failure to enforce Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 states "no otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall solely on the basis of his handicap, be excluded from the participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." According to an article by the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, the 504 SIT-IN was of historical importance, brought awareness to the lack of regulation, and laid the groundwork for the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted in 1990.
  • ONE (56D: "(No ___ Knows Me) Like the Piano" (Sampha song)) "(No ONE Knows Me) Like the Piano" is a song from Sampha's debut album, Process. See my earlier remarks about using song titles as clues. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SWIM (1A: Compete like Simone Manuel) From the March 2, 2021 puzzle, I learned Simone Manuel SWAM for Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics, winning two gold medals and two silver medals. If you want to SWIM like Simone Manuel, you will have to compete in the sprint freestyle, as that's her specialty.
  • SCOT (8A: Get off ___-free) If you're interested in the origin of this phrase, I wrote about it on October 6, 2020
  • TORI (14A: "Hollow" singer Kelly) "Hollow" is a 2015 song by TORI Kelly, which the singer also co-wrote. 
  • COEL (55A: "I May Destroy You" creator Michaela) I learned about Michaela COEL and the TV series, I May Destroy You, from the September 18, 2020 puzzle
  • COW (9D: Sacred symbol of life) COWs are considered sacred in many world religions, including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
  • NINTH (28D: Second-worst finish in the top 10) This clue made me laugh; it's so delightful. It reminds me of a story about a PR campaign describing an athlete finishing a race in second place, while neglecting to mention there were only two runners competing. 
  • TDS (38D: D.C. Divas scores (Abbr.)) That's TDS as in touchdowns. The D.C. Divas are a Women's Football Alliance team. The team was formed in 2000, and were one of the charter franchises of the National Women's Football Association. They joined the Women's Football Alliance in 2011.
Geography review:
  • KOREA (24D: East Asian peninsula) Since 1945, the peninsula of KOREA has been divided into two parts: North KOREA and South KOREA.
READY...SET...GO! A fine and appropriate theme set for a Monday. All the theme answers were solid; I particularly liked QUIET ON THE SET. The long bonuses of STAY CLASSY and QUINTUPLED were quite enjoyable.  As for the interaction Brooke referred to between 2Down - "It just WASN'T meant to be," and PLEASE DON'T GO (51A: "I really want you to stay"), it appears as though the puzzle at the very least decided to MAKE NICE (4D: Be superficially polite), and provide us with a fine way to begin our Monday.


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