July 10, 2021


Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BTS (1A: Band also known as the Bangtan Boys, with hits at 24- and 26-Across)
DYNAMITE (24A: Song that "lit it up" in 2020)
BUTTER (26A: "Smooth" hit of 2021)
STICK IN YOUR HEAD (44A: What 24- and 26-Across might do, appropriately enough)

Theme synopsis: The puzzle features two BTS songs, DYNAMITE and BUTTER - whose one-word titles are both items that come in sticks - and the punny reveal that the songs might STICK IN YOUR HEAD.

Things I learned:
  • MA'AM (32A: Term of address found in "ma'amoul") Ma'amoul is a BUTTER cookie made with semolina flour, and filled with dried fruits or nuts. Popular in countries on the Arabian peninsula, the cookies are often a part of meals during religious celebrations, Eid-al-Fitr for Muslims and Easter for Christians.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • BTS (1A: Band also known as the Bangtan Boys, with hits at 24- and 26-Across) BTS is a South Korean boy band. The seven-member group (Jin, RM, Jungkook, J-Hope, Suga, V, and Jimin) is the best-selling artist in South Korean history, but their popularity is certainly not limited to South Korea. I first learned about BTS from the October 4, 2020 puzzle titled BTS. 
  • DYNAMITE (24A: Song that "lit it up" in 2020) Released on August 21, 2020, "DYNAMITE" was the first BTS song fully in English. The upbeat song features the repeated lyric, "light it up like DYNAMITE."
  • BUTTER (26A: "Smooth" hit of 2021) Released on May 21, 2021, "BUTTER" was the second BTS song fully recorded in English. The song begins with the line, "Smooth like BUTTER, like a criminal undercover..." Several weeks before the release of "BUTTER," BTS held a YouTube livestream that was an hour-long animation of a STICK of BUTTER melting. At the end of the animation, the word BUTTER appeared, along with the date 2021.5.21. 
  • HERO (39A: Idol) Not only is a HERO an idol, this clue is also bonus theme material. "Idol" is a 2018 song by BTS. I really like when constructors weave in extra theme-related elements into their puzzles. I am certain I miss many such bonuses, but it's so delightful when I discover one. It's like finding hidden treasure!
  • STICK IN YOUR HEAD (44A: What 24- and 26-Across might do, appropriately enough) As one who frequently gets earworms, this answer delighted me. So fun to uncover STICK IN YOUR HEAD and realize DYNAMITE and BUTTER both come in (extremely different!) STICKS. 
  • UNIONIZE (52A: What workers might do for better conditions) and UNITES (47D: Brings together) I liked the visual of these two words crossing in the grid. 
  • BLOOD (1D: Partner of sweat and tears) Although seemingly straightforward, this clue and answer has multiple layers. BLOOD, sweat, and tears is, of course, a saying used to describe something requiring a lot of work. BLOOD, Sweat & Tears is also a jazz-rock band founded in 1967 as well as the title of the group's 1968 studio album. Three songs from that album reached number 2 on the Billboard charts: "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel," and "And When I Die." (How frustrating to just miss number one three times in a row!) Additionally, "BLOOD, Sweat & Tears" is a 2016 song by BTS, recorded in Korean and Japanese. Yes, we have more bonus theme material! 
  • MOLY (32D: ("Holy ___!" (rhyming exclamation)) It is thought that the exclamation "Holy MOLY!" may have arisen as a variation of the oath, "Holy Moses!" Since "Holy Moses!" may have been offensive to some people, the minced oath - a deliberately mispronounced phrase - of "Holy Moly! was substituted. The phrase was made popular in the 1940s as the catchphrase of the DC comics character, Captain Marvel. When the phrase first appeared in the comic, it was spelled as "holy moley," but "holy MOLY" is now the more common spelling.
  • KITTEN (45D: Young cat) It has been ten years since my cat was a KITTEN.
    Last night Willow made me laugh when I looked up and found she had placed herself in the corner (right next to her basket of toys).

Geography review: 

  • GUAM (23D: Island where CHamoru is spoken) CHamoru is the native language of the Chamorro people, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands. The Mariana Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean that includes GUAM. 
This was a fun BTS tribute puzzle. It was enjoyable to discover the multiple layers of the puzzle, both while solving, and while writing this post. This puzzle is asymmetrical. Asymmetrical puzzles are rare; most crosswords feature rotational symmetry (the most common), mirror symmetry, or diagonal symmetry. The use of asymmetry allows for the grid-spanning revealer to be placed in the lower half of the puzzle without a matched grid-spanning entry in the upper part of the puzzle. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Saturday. I am hungry for a CROISSANT now, and perhaps an OREO.

It's the 10th of the month, so time for the monthly reminder that this blog has a Donate button. You might think of a Donation to Sally's Take as a subscription, similar to subscribing to a magazine or newspaper. Your donation helps support my work of writing this blog and maintaining this site. Donations (of any amount) are truly always optional, and definitely appreciated.

One more thing - I notice that Erik Agard also constructed today's Universal crossword, so if you'd like to solve another Erik-constructed puzzle today you're in luck!