Title: THAT'S QUITE A SCHLEP!
Constructors: Amanda Rafkin & Brooke Husic
Editor: Erik Agard
DRAG BRUNCH (21A: Event with mimosas and pop diva impersonations)
PULL THE GOALIE (34A: Risk an empty netter, in hockey)
CARRY A TUNE (52A: Sing on key)
Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a synonym for SCHLEP: DRAG, PULL, CARRY.
And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke & Amanda: In our last episode things got steamy; now we're doing the stride of pride home, in more ways than one. This puzzle, as I'm sure you can tell from the overall vibe, was an absolute blast to make together. Who says Pride has to end when June ends? Or, you know, we can move on.
Things I learned:
- PULL THE GOALIE (34A: Risk an empty netter, in hockey) Here I am learning more about sports from crossword puzzles! (I just recently learned about the unofficial hockey position of goon.) When a hockey game is nearing the end, and a team is losing by one or two points, they may opt to "PULL THE GOALIE." This involves taking the goalie out of the game and substituting an extra forward (whose job is to score goals). This substitution leaves the team's net open, of course, and therefore risks the other team scoring. Therefore, the decision to PULL THE GOALIE is generally reserved for situations such as playoff elimination games. According to Urban Dictionary, the term PULL THE GOALIE has a non-hockey meaning as well (derived from the hockey term), and can be used to mean stopping the use of contraceptives to try to have a baby.
- WATCH (40A: Talley & Twine accessory) Talley & Twine is a Black-owned WATCH company founded by Randy Williams in 2014. Talley and Twine WATCH faces have only one number on the face, an oversized "7." According to their website, the number 7 "represents completion (7 days in a week). It serves as a reminder to finish what you start!" The name of the company comes from an intersection in a neighborhood in Virginia that was previously crime-ridden but has been revitalized. "Talley & Twine represents the future. It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish."
- CAN (45A: Spindrift container) Spindrift is a brand of flavored sparkling water. (They even sell a spiked version!) I wasn't familiar with this brand, although now that I see pictures of the beverages, I realize I've seen it on the shelves. Fortunately, the answer was inferable even without brand recognition.
- RAP (55A: KaMillion genre) KaMillion is a songwriter and RAP artist. She joined the cast of the reality TV series, Love & Hip Hop: Miami in season 3.
- ESTHER (13D: Model Baxter) ESTHER Baxter has appeared in music videos for Petey Pablo, Ludacris, Will Smith, Nelly, and Kanye West.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- HALEY (14A: "Roots" author Alex) Alex HALEY's 1976 book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family was adapted into a 1977 TV miniseries. I remember watching Roots when it first aired. I was 12 years old at the time, and that was before VCRs, TiVo, or internet streaming, so you had to make sure you watched each episode when it was shown. The miniseries broke records for numbers of viewers.
- DRAG BRUNCH (21A: Event with mimosas and pop diva impersonations) DRAG BRUNCH is exactly what it sounds like, DRAG performers entertain while people eat BRUNCH (and drink mimosas). Or, as Food & Wine magazine puts it, "DRAG BRUNCH is an event where queens, dressed extravagantly in glitter-adorned outfits and heels, dismantle gender norms with humor while performing Broadway-worthy numbers."
- MOM (51A: Person to ask when Mama says no, perhaps) and DAD (21D: Person to ask when Pop says no, perhaps) Shoutout to these echoing clues that remind us families come in a variety of configurations.
- RHEA (60A: Comedian Butcher) RHEA Butcher began their comedy career at The Second City in Chicago. RHEA appeared on the TV show, Adam Ruins Everything, playing the role of Adam's sister. Since 2018, RHEA Butcher has hosted a baseball-themed podcast titled Three Swings.
- SHE (1D: "___ Keeps Me Warm" (Mary Lambert song)) "SHE Keeps Me Warm" was derived from the chorus Mary Lambert provided to the Macklemore & Ryan song, "Same Love."
- LEDS (4D: Parts of some menorah sweaters) This clue made me laugh! Here's one example of such a sweater with LEDS (scroll down to the second sweater). I did discover while searching for examples that most stores classify such sweaters as "Ugly Christmas Sweaters." Some retailers apparently need a lesson on the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah.
- ORG (28D: www.lesbianswhotech.___) Lesbians Who Tech + Allies is the largest LGBTQ technology community in the world. It was founded in 2012 to provide a community for queer women in technology. The organization holds 3-day summits, such as the virtual Pride Summit 2021 held last month.
- FERRET (44D: Pet that may dance when excited) When excited, a FERRET may perform a "war dance," characterized by sideways hops and leaps. Although it's called a "war dance," the behavior is an invitation to play.
- ACTS (53D: Performs in "Angels in America") Angels in America is a 1991 play by Tony Kusner that was adapted into a 2003 HBO miniseries. It tells the story of a gay man living with AIDS.
- RENO (18A: ___-Tahoe International Airport) As you might expect, RENO-Tahoe International Airport takes its name from the city of RENO, Nevada and Lake Tahoe.
- ECHO PARK (38D: L.A. neighborhood) ECHO PARK is a neighborhood in central Los Angeles, California. People who have called ECHO PARK home include Sia, Frank Zappa, and Sara Ramírez.
- APACHE (43D: People to whom Oak Flat is sacred) Oak Flat is in Arizona, and is part of the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix. The land is sacred to the APACHE and other indigenous peoples who have worked to protect Oak Flat against proposed mining.
In spite of its title, this puzzle was not a SCHLEP at all. Though the theme is straightforward - and there's nothing wrong with that - it is definitely elevated by interesting fill and cluing. There is definitely a PARTY HOP vibe here, complete with a DRAG BRUNCH and a FERRET dancing. I particularly enjoyed the answers I LOVE YOU and IT'S MAGIC. We did indeed GET LUCKY today with this delightful puzzle.