June 26, 2021


Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BREE RUNWAY (17A: "Hot Hot" singer)
STARRING ROLE (29A: Very good result of an audition)
SLIDING SCALE (46A: Fee structure used by some therapists)
DO BUSINESS (61A: Make a deal)

Theme synopsis: The word MODEL can be placed AFTER the last word of each theme answer, giving us RUNWAY MODEL, ROLE MODEL, SCALE MODEL, and BUSINESS MODEL.

Things I learned:
  • BREE RUNWAY (17A: "Hot Hot" singer) BREE RUNWAY released the song "Hot Hot" in March of this year. Earlier in the year she released a song titled "ATM," which featured Missy Elliott.
  • POET (4D: Rita Dove or Rita Joe) Rita Dove was the U.S. POET Laureate from 1993 to 1995. She has also served as POET Laureate of Virginia and has received a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. (This I knew.) Rita Joe has been called the POET Laureate of the Mi'kmaq people. The Mi'kmaq are an indigenous people of Canada's Atlantic Provinces. Rita Joe's poems challenge stereotypes about the Mi'kmaq and other First Nation peoples. Rita Joe died in 2007 at the age of 75. (This I learned.) This is a nice example of using two examples in a clue. A solver only needs to recognize and know one of the examples (as I did) to get to the answer. I also liked the use of two Ritas here.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • PEPA (16A: Partner of Salt) The capital S of "Salt" tips us off that we are not talking about "salt and pepper," but the hip-hop duo of Salt-N-Pepa - Cheryl "Salt" James and Sandra "PEPA" Denton.
  • COB (55A: Elote core) Elote, or grilled corn on the COB, is sold from food carts in some parts of Mexico. It is sometimes referred to as Mexican Street Corn. The corn is charred on the grill, and served in a spicy and creamy cotija cheese sauce.
  • ORZO (64A: Pasta shaped like grains of rice) Categorized as "pastina," or "little pasta," ORZO is often used in soups and pasta salads. ORZO is one of my favorite types of pasta. It cooks quickly because of its small shape. One of my favorite ways to fix it is tossed with broccoli, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
  • ROW (6D: Bleachers part) I was amused to see ROW appear as a vertical answer as if it were in a column.
Geography review:
  • IOWA (15A: State next to Illinois) and DES (23A: First word of the capital of 15-Across) Well, hello from IOWA, the state next to Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The capital of IOWA is DES Moines.
  • STL (21A: National Blues Museum city, for short) and LOUIS (48D: The L in 21-Across) ST. LOUIS, Missouri (STL) is home to the National Blues Museum. The museum, which opened in 2016, explores the musical history and impact of blues music. ST. LOUIS is also the home of the NHL's ST. LOUIS Blues hockey team, but they are not discussed at the National Blues Museum (to my knowledge).
  • KITTS (39A: Saint ___ and Nevis) Saint KITTS and Nevis is an island country in the West Indies, and the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere. The capital and largest city of Saint KITTS and Nevis is Basseterre.
  • TEL (54A: ___ Aviv, Israel) TEL Aviv is located on the Mediterranean coast of Israel. 
  • DAYTON (8D: City in western Ohio) DAYTON, Ohio is the birthplace of Orville Wright, earning it the nickname, "Birthplace of Aviation." It is also home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. 
You might call this a MODEL crossword, though I suppose it would need to be a crossword MODEL to fit the theme. I appreciated that the four new MODEL phrases were each a different kind of MODEL. The Midwest received a lot of attention in today's puzzle, with references to DES Moines, IOWA, Illinois (in the clue for IOWA), ST. LOUIS, Missouri, and DAYTON, Ohio. I liked the somewhat-related long downs of HEAD TO TOE and I'M ALL EARS. I also thought the answer SOCIALIZE was APPEALING, particularly as that's something many of us are beginning to do more of as COVID-19 vaccinations are more widespread. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Saturday.