July 20, 2021


Constructors: Brooke Husic & Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
DESIGNER LABEL (19A: High-end fashion brand)
NATIONAL TITLE (35A: Stanford basketball won one in April 2021)
TWITTER HANDLE (52A: Username after an @)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is a synonym for NAME: LABEL, TITLE, HANDLE.

And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke & Enrique: We love this puzzle so much! It was very fun to build a theme around this title and even more fun to collaborate. We love all the music we got to include in addition to the "theme song" — Fiona APPLE, Lizzo's Good as HELL, JELLY ROLL Morton, ABBA's SOS — even ERR is musical. We also love DOG dad and the TWINS clue — fittingly, we each independently had the same idea for cluing it. 👯

Things I learned:
  • TAP (31A: Dance like Chloe Arnold) Chloe Arnold is a TAP dancer and choreographer. She is the founder of the all-female TAP group, Syncopated Ladies. This blog post almost didn't get written because I was enjoying watching TAP videos. Chloe Arnold's TWITTER HANDLE is @chloearnold.
  • BELLA (46D: Model Hadid) In 2016, BELLA Hadid was voted a Model of the Year by Models.com
  • RON (56D: Kim Possible's friend ___ Stoppable) Kim Possible is an animated TV series in which the title character is a teenage girl who fights crime while also dealing with everyday adolescent issues. In 2019, Disney produced a live-action movie based on the series. RON Stoppable has been Kim's friend and neighbor since preschool. He is Kim's goofy and accident-prone sidekick. RON Stoppable is voiced by Will Friedle in the animated series, and is played by Sean Giambrone in the Disney movie. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • APPLE (14A: "Fetch the Bolt Cutters" artist Fiona) "Fetch the Bolt Cutters" is the title song of Fiona APPLE's fifth studio album, released in April 2020. "Fetch the Bolt Cutters" was also the title of the November 19, 2020 puzzle. At that time I learned that Fiona APPLE's album received a perfect ten rating from Pitchfork.
  • AGE (42A: Number in a Lex bio) "Do I know what Lex is?" I asked myself. Then I remembered I've previously written about this text-based dating app.
  • DAD (58A: Dog ___ (guy with a pet)) This is an adorable clue.
  • ERR (64A: Sing the wrong lyric, e.g.) There are so many ways to clue the word ERR. It was fun to see it clued in this way since the title of the puzzle is a song title and there are many songs mentioned in the puzzle. 
  • HELL (8D: "Good as ___" (Lizzo bop)) My daughter is the one who first introduced me to Lizzo's music, and to her 2016 song, "Good as HELL." This song is one that frequently gets stuck in my head as the "earworm of the day." Sometimes my husband looks at me strangely when I randomly burst out in song, "...if he don't love you anymore/ Then walk your fine ass out the door..." It's probably just my singing he doesn't appreciate.
  • JELLY ROLL (10D: Ragtime/jazz pianist Morton) JELLY ROLL Morton's composition, "Original JELLY ROLL Blues," is one of the first published jazz compositions. 
  • ANNE (32D: "___ With an E" (series set at Green Gables)) ANNE of Green Gables
    is the first in a series of books about "ANNE With an E" written by L. M. Montgomery. ANNE of Green Gables was originally published in 1908. The stories have been adapted into movies, stage productions, and TV series. I have a well-loved box set of the first three books that I purchased with my own money from a Scholastic book order when I was ten years old. 
  • SOS (38D: ABBA song with the lyric "nothing else can save me") ABBA released their song, "SOS" in 1975. Nice to have the lyrical hint in the clue.
  • ACIDS (42D: Substances like HCl and HF) HCl = Hydrochloric ACID; HF = Hydrofluoric ACID.
  • COHERE (43D: Stick together) This was the last word I filled in. I had ADHERE at first, but that made for some interesting crosses! (AOY and BOD instead of COY and BOO)
  • TWINS (45D: "OMG, we're wearing the same shirt!") This clue made me chuckle.
Geography review:
  • NEPAL (17A: Himalayan country) NEPAL is a landlocked country in South Asia bordering China, and India. Most of the country is in the Himalayas, a mountain range containing many of Earth's highest peaks, including Mount Everest. The capital of NEPAL is Kathmandu.
  • HILO (29D: City on the Big Island) The Big Island here is the island of Hawai'i, the largest of the Hawaiian islands. HILO is home of the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long event celebrating hula. HILO is also home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, where tourists can take a self-guided tour of the processing plant, and then purchase homemade macadamia ice cream in the gift shop. 
"Montero (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME)" is a song by Lil Nas X that previewed in February 2021 during a Super Bowl LV commercial. It's appropriate that a puzzle with title based on a song title is jam-packed with music references. I enjoyed them all. TWITTER HANDLE was my favorite of the theme answers. I hope the person displaying their IRE with a door SLAM is able to TALK IT OUT. This puzzle was a lovely way to begin my Tuesday, and provided me with multiple earworm options for the day.


  1. Sally, I also enjoy reading your take! Thank you for explaining the theme. Because DESIGNERLABEL and TWITTERHANDLE are names, I was thinking that NATIONALTITLE had to be one as well, which doesn't work. So thanks for explaining that it's just the last word, not the whole answer, that fits the theme!

    1. Sometimes there's more than one way to explain or interpret a theme. Who knows whether I'm interpreting it the way the constructors intended it or not! However, fun either way.

  2. There's another layer to the theme. LABEL, TITLE, & HANDEL are all things that other people will call you by that aren't really your name, but serve as their name for you. Thus, "Call me by your name (for me)."

    Interesting pair: ON LOW / HILO.

    There was a day when neither HELL nor GOD would be appropriate in a crossword puzzle.

    I try not to be homophobic, but clues like 'words from bride to bride" for I DO or "parenting pair" for DADS or reference to Lex happen often enough to be annoying, at least to this member of the non-LGB+ majority.

    You explained Lex, which I did not know, but I also didn't know DAL.

    I was held up a bit by HOG < COY and INATE < FLAIR.

    1. calling clues with queer references written and edited by by queer-identifying people annoying seems pretty homophobic to me. try harder.

    2. I am a tremendous fan of the USA Today crossword puzzle. (As is obvious by the fact I blog about it everyday...) One of the (many) things I enjoy about the puzzle is the diversity of constructor voices and the resulting diversity of clues and answers. I welcome clues and answers that represent women, the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous people, people of color, and a variety of cultures. For me, variety makes the puzzles interesting. I hope this attitude comes across in my blog posts.

  3. Thanks, Brooke for you comment and gentle urge to "try harder." I'm sure Amy at Crossword Field would have let loose much harder. The clues OwenKL objects to are ones I simply love.


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