July 15, 2021


Constructor: Nate Cardin

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SURF AND TURF (21A: Restaurant combo featuring seafood and red meat)
NAME AND SHAME (27A: Call out a company for supporting restrictive voting laws, for example)
MEET AND GREET (43A: Event for a queen at DragCon)
WEAR AND TEAR (50A: Result of day-to-day use)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer consists of two rhyming words connected by the word AND.

Things I learned:
  • ALERT (31A: "The Circle" notification) The Circle is a reality TV series based on social media. Throughout the show, contestants are isolated in individual apartments, and can only communicate with other contestants via "The Circle," a computer that acts as a social media app. Therefore, contestants can choose how they present themselves. As in many reality TV shows, there is voting and there are shenanigans until there is one winner. I have not seen the show, but I'm guessing ALERT features prominently (similar to all of the ALERTs one gets from various apps). The show's second season (which aired from April to May of this year) was announced on social media (of course!): "ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! The Circle is back!"
  • BIG RED (6D: Soda with a size and a color in its name) I deduced what this answer must be, but all I could think of was BIG RED chewing gum. ("Do they still make that?" I wondered. Yes.) Now I know BIG RED is also a brand of soft drink. In fact, the soda, BIG RED, was created in 1937, while the gum was not introduced until 1975. Originally, BIG RED was marketed exclusively in parts of Texas and around Louisville, Kentucky. On May 16, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky celebrated "BIG RED Day," marking the 80th anniversary of BIG RED being sold there. As you might guess, BIG RED is red; it is a cream soda with lemon and orange flavoring, and is popular in the southern United States.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ISN'T (14A: Stevie Wonder's "___ She Lovely") "ISN'T She Lovely" is a song from Stevie Wonder's 1976 album, Songs in the Key of Life. The song was never released as a single, because it was over six minutes long, and Stevie Wonder was unwilling to shorten it to fit the single format. However, a shortened promotional version was given to radio stations. "ISN'T She Lovely" celebrates the birth of Stevie Wonder's daughter, Aisha. This is the fourth time (since I've been blogging) we've seen "ISN'T She Lovely" used as a clue. Two times it has clued the word "ISN'T," and twice it has been used to clue the word "she." Dear constructors, "Lovely" would like its moment in the puzzle.
  • GINA (18A: Actress Torres) GINA Torres played the role of Jessica Pearson on the TV series, Suits. She reprised the role for the spin-off series, Pearson
  • CORI (32A: Missouri representative Bush) I have previously written about CORI Bush, U.S. Representative for Missouri's 1st congressional district, but I still couldn't remember whether her name ended in an "I" or a "Y." I'm writing this to place in my brain it is spelled CORI!
  • PING (60A: ___-Pong) We saw the opposite of this clue [Ping-___] on July 6. If you read that blog post, you know mentions of PING-Pong take me down memory lane (in a good way).
  • IDEA (61A: "It seemed like a good ___ at the time") This clue made me chuckle. We've all had those moments, haven't we? This was a playful way to clue IDEA. When I encountered 41-Down, it occurred to me that, "GET A load of this!" is sometimes followed by "It seemed like a good IDEA at the time." This puzzle might have a story to tell... COUNT ME IN (3D: "Sure, I'm game") might be part of this tale as well. 
  • DEMI (23D: Prefix for "god" or "sexual") In Greek and Roman mythology, and in the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, a DEMIgod is a figure with one human parent and one divine parent. A DEMIsexual person does not experience sexual attraction until they have formed an emotional bond with a partner.
  • NAE NAE (44D: Dance mentioned in the 2015 song "Watch Me") "Watch Me," or "Watch Me (Whip/NAE NAE)" is the debut single by rap artist Silentó. 
  • URSA (54A: ___ Major (constellation)) URSA Major, also known as the Great Bear, is a constellation visible in the northern sky. It's main seven stars form the "Big Dipper."
Geography review:
  • YEN (40A: Japanese currency) The YEN is the third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market. The U.S. dollar is the most-traded currency, followed by the euro.
Are you beat? Have a seat. Take a load off your feet. LET'S EAT. Fortunately, this puzzle is better at rhyming than I am! I enjoyed uncovering the rhyming phrases today. NAME AND SHAME and MEET AND GREET were my favorite. As I mentioned above, I enjoyed the conversational phrases today. I also liked LASER BEAM and GREENLIT. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Thursday.