July 13, 2021


Constructor: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
TRUFFLE OIL (3D: Umami topping for fries)
TRUMPET SOLO (17D: Clora Bryant improvisation)
TRUCKER HAT (30D: Breathable cap)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer begins with the letter string TRU-. Since the theme answer are vertical, TRU is at the top, or NORTH part of the answer.

Things I learned:
  • MARIA (35A: ___ Felix, Mexican actress of classic cinema) MARÍA Félix was a prominent figure in Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. She turned down several offers to star in Hollywood films, instead choosing to make movies in Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, and Argentina. In addition to acting, MARÍA Félix was known for her fashion, wearing designs by Christian Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and other well-known designers. She had an extensive jewelry collection, including a crocodile necklace made for her by Cartier. In 2018, Google honored MARÍA Félix with a Google doodle. 
  • NORMA (58A: Designer Kamali known for the sleeping bag coat) Fashion designer NORMA Kamali designed the sleeping bag coat in 1973. According to the NORMA Kamali website, the oversized, puffy, sleeping bag coat is "two coats sewn together with air pockets in between."
  • TRUMPET SOLO (17D: Clora Bryant improvisation) Clora Bryant began playing the TRUMPET in 1942 when she was 15 years old. She went on to play with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female jazz band, and was a featured soloist with the group. Despite being faced with gender stereotypes throughout her career, Clora Bryant continued to persist, and played alongside Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. After retiring from playing TRUMPET in 1990, she continued to work, lecturing about jazz history at colleges and universities. Clora Baker died in 2019 at the age of 92.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • PHO (10A: Soup served at Nam Phuong in Philly) PHO is a soup originating from Vietnam, and consisting of broth, rice noodles, meat, and herbs. PHO is considered the national dish of Vietnam. Nam Phuong is a Philadelphia restaurant serving Vietnamese cuisine. 
  • UTE (50A: Uintah and Ouray people) The UTE people are the indigenous people of the Great Basin area in the Southwestern United States. The state of UTAH was named for the UTE. 
  • CIPHER (63A: Secret code) Jung vs V jrer gb hfr n PVCURE gb jevgr zl oybt? Gung zvtug or pbashfvat...*
  • TRUFFLE OIL (3D: Umami topping for fries) TRUFFLEs are a type of fungi. Some species are highly prized as food. TRUFFLE OIL is used to impart the flavor of TRUFFLEs to a dish, and is often used as a finishing OIL, perhaps for fries. Interestingly, I learned that while some TRUFFLE OIL is made using the residue of TRUFFLEs, many TRUFFLE OILs are not made using TRUFFLEs, but are produced synthetically. 
  • AUDRA (27D: Broadway star McDonald) AUDRA McDonald has won six Tony Awards. In addition to her many Broadway performances, including performances in Carousel and Porgy and Bess, she has appeared on TV shows, including Private Practice, and movies, including the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast
  • TRUCKER HAT (30D: Breathable cap) A TRUCKER HAT is a type of baseball cap featuring a MESH back, and often bearing a company logo on the front. 
  • U.S. OPEN (49D: Tournament Serena Williams has won six times) The U.S. OPEN is one of the oldest tennis championships in the world. It was founded in 1881. 
  • CAT (63D: Grown-up kitten) Willow approves of this clue.
    The other day I walked into my office to discover her sitting in my desk chair. I think she has plans to take over the writing of this blog. 
Geography review:
  • NAPA (33A: California wine valley) Considered one of the premiere wine regions in the world, NAPA valley benefits from a combination of climate and geology that are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. 
  • YEN (23D: Money in Tokyo) Tokyo is the capital of Japan and its most populous city. The currency in Japan is the Japanese YEN.
* These sentences were written using the ROT13 CIPHER. Decoded they read: What if I were to use a CIPHER to write my blog? That might be confusing...

I think it's a nice touch that the theme answer TRUMPET SOLO is featured in the center of the puzzle, just as a SOLO should be. In addition to the theme answers today, there was a lot of fill I particularly liked, such as PEEKABOO and TOY STORE. There's something here for all ages, as we also have ADULTS. This puzzle may be trying to make enemies, with DEFOE (19A: Surname that contains a synonym for "enemy") and DR. NO (20A: Bond villain) and ARES (60D: Enemy of Wonder Woman), but NO LUCK (38D: "It didn't work") I enjoyed this puzzle and was delighted to start my day by solving it.


  1. What do you think of the new app? Have they stopped doing the weekly tournament?

    1. Sadly, the new app is not supported by my old iPad mini. :( I have checked the new app out on my phone, but I don't usually solve on my phone.
      That's a good question about the tournament puzzles. There is a tournament puzzle this week, because I can access it on my iPad (with the old app). However I don't see it on my phone with the new app. That seems like a question for the USA Today Tech people: support@amuniversal.com


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