June 11, 2021

Title: 2S

Constructor: Rebecca Goldstein

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
******This puzzle is part of the USA Today Pride Puzzle Series******

Theme Answers:
STRAWBERRY SHAKE (16A: Fruity ice cream drink)
SWIZZLE STICK (26A: Drink stirrer)
SEATTLE STORM (49A: Sue Bird's WNBA team)
STOCKING STUFFER (63A: Small Christmas gift)

Theme synopsis: Each 2S theme answer is composed of 2 words that begin with the letter S.

Things I learned:
  • DATE (1D: Meetup from Lex) Lex is "a queer dating app with no profile photos or cisgender men." The app is entirely text-based, with users writing posts similar to personal classified ads. Just the other day I learned about the dating app, Hinge. Crosswords are expanding my knowledge about many different things!
  • STARK (43D: "Framing Britney Spears" director Samantha) Framing Britney Spears is a 2021 documentary exploring Spears's life. Samantha STARK directed the film as part of The New York Times Presents series for FX and Hulu. I was familiar with the documentary (though I haven't watched it), but did not know the director's name.
  • DOLL (56D: Qai Qai, e.g.) Qai Qai (pronounced "Kway Kway") is Alexis Olympia Ohanian's DOLL. Olympia is the daughter of Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian. Qai Qai has her own Instagram account where she has over 300,000 followers. In 2019, Qai Qai gave an exclusive interview to Oprah magazine
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ANNE (24A: Diarist Lister dubbed "the first modern lesbian") ANNE Lister's diary consisted of over 7,700 pages, parts of which were written in code. I learned this interesting fact when I first learned of ANNE Lister, from the April 27, 2021 puzzle.
  • SLAP (41A: ___ bracelet ('90s fad)) Do you remember SLAP bracelets? Made of thin, flexible stainless steel, covered with fabric or silicone, when you SLAP the straight bracelet on your wrist, it wraps around it. The original brand name of the bracelets was "SLAP Wrap," and they were invented by a Wisconsin teacher named Stuart Anders.
  • SEATTLE STORM (49A: Sue Bird's WNBA team) Oh, hey, I knew this sports thing! I learned about it from a crossword puzzle, of course. The SEATTLE STORM were founded in 2000. The team has won four WNBA championships - 2004, 2010, 2018, 2020. 
  • EDIE (70A: LGBT rights activist Windsor) EDIE Windsor was the plaintiff in the 2013 Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor. EDIE Windsor and Thea Spyer were married in New York in 2008. When Spyer died the following year, EDIE tried to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, but could not do so because of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages. She sued the federal government, and the case ended up in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA was a violation of the Fifth Amendment. EDIE Windsor continued to advocate for LGBT rights until her death in 2017 at the age of 88.
  • AFRO (6D: "Big Hair, Don't Care" do) Big Hair, Don't Care is a children's book by Crystal Swain Bates. The author says she wrote the book to "empower little girls with natural hair to take pride in their beautiful locks and celebrate being different." 
  • ATHLETES (9D: Megan Rapinoe and Patricio Manuel, e.g.) Megan Rapinoe is a professional soccer player. Patricio Manuel is a professional boxer.
  • CLEA (34D: DuVall of "But I'm a Cheerleader") But I'm a Cheerleader is a 1999 movie about a cheerleader named Megan, played by Natasha Lyonne. Megan's family suspects she is a lesbian, and sends her to a conversion therapy camp to "cure" her. At the camp, one of the people Megan meets is Graham, played by CLEA Duvall.
  • EAT LOCAL (38D: Have brunch at a farmer's market, say) What a nice clue for a great answer. Locavores are people who try to EAT LOCAL, choosing locally produced food in season. Just yesterday I picked up our weekly share of veggies from our CSA (community supported agriculture), and we had a delivery of eggs and meat from another local farmer. It was a good EAT LOCAL day!
  • KAT (40D: Dennings of "WandaVision") KAT Dennings plays the role of Darcy Lewis in the TV miniseries, WandaVision, a role she also played in the 2011 movie, Thor, and the 2013 movie, Thor: The Dark World.
  • ELM (44D: Stately tree) ELM is making an encore appearance today, as it also appeared in yesterday's puzzle
  • OTOE (55D: Indigenous Midwestern tribe) The OTOE are an indigenous people that were traditionally a semi-nomadic people along the banks of the Missouri River in the Midwest. Today they are part of the OTOE-Missouria Drive of Indians, which is headquartered in Red Rock, Oklahoma.
  • UTE (65D: Natives of Colorado) The UTE are an indigenous people that have lived in the area that is present-day Colorado and Utah for many centuries. The state of Utah is named for the UTE.
Two-Spirit, or 2S, is a term used in some indigenous cultures to describe a person with both a feminine and masculine spirit living in the same body. In our puzzle today, 2S describes two word phrases with both words beginning with the letter S. We have a nice quartet of theme answers here. I knew we were in for a treat when I discovered the delightful STRAWBERRY SHAKE. I might have squealed when I filled in SWIZZLE STICK - what a fun answer! I liked SEATTLE STORM because it's a sports thing I know, and who doesn't like a fun STOCKING STUFFER? We didn't even have to ask "Pretty PLEASE with a cherry on top" to receive this delightful puzzle! This puzzle was a great start to my Friday.
One more thing, I wanted to note that this is the last puzzle in the USA Today Pride Puzzle Series. I have enjoyed these puzzles, and I hope you have as well. One of the things I liked about this series of puzzles, edited by Amanda Rafkin, is that only three of the thirteen constructors who made these eleven puzzles, were new names to us. This series has simply served to affirm one of the reasons I am a huge fan of the USA Today puzzle, and that is the diversity represented in the puzzle's constructors, which naturally leads to inclusivity and diversity in the puzzle's content.


  1. I don't get LIT as "extremely fun".

    1. In modern slang, LIT is used to mean "exciting" or "excellent." See this explanation from Merriam Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/lit-meaning-origin

    2. Thank you. Guess I've displayed my old-fogieness by asking.

    3. That's why we work crosswords, right? To keep us up on the lingo so we can be hip! ;-) (I'm pretty sure the use of "hip" reveals my age!)


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