July 22, 2021


Constructor: Matthew Stock

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
BARTEND (19A: Make and serve drinks)
BASSET HOUND (44A: Droopy-eared dog)
BASEBALL DIAMOND (57A: Playing field in "The Sandlot")
BACKBEND (3D: Yoga or gymnastics move) 
BAIL FUND (10D: Organization such as Free the 350)

Note: Edited to add the vertical themers I initially missed!

Theme synopsis: The word BAND is broken by each theme answer. As you move from the top to the bottom of the puzzle, the BA- and -ND become farther apart in the horizontal theme answers.

Things I learned:
  • ANNE (36A: Former WNBA coach Donovan) ANNE Donovan coached several WNBA Teams: Indiana Fever (2000 as interim coach), Charlotte Sting (2001-2002) (the Charlotte Sting is no longer a team), Seattle Storm (2003-2007), New York Liberty (2009-2010), and Connecticut Sun (2013-2015). As a player, ANNE Donovan won two Olympic gold medals with Team USA, in 1984 and 1988. In 2008, she coached Team USA to an Olympic gold medal. Donovan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, and was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. ANNE Donovan died in 2015 at the age of 56.
  • TERESA (14D: Ms. Foundation for Women CEO Younger) The Ms. Foundation for Women was founded in 1973 by Gloria Steinem, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Marlo Thomas, and Patricia Carbine to "elevate women's voices and create positive change." The organization's mission is to build the collective power of women in the United States to work for equity and justice. TERESA C. Younger became the President and CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women in 2014. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • RANKINE (17A: "Citizen" author Claudia) Claudia RANKINE is a poet, essayist, and playwright. Her 2014 book-length poem, Citizen: An American Lyric won multiple literary awards, and is a New York Times bestseller. In Citizen, text is interspersed with images and artworks to form a portrait of race relations in the United States.
  • COMO (43A: "___ estas?") "COMO estas?" I'm great, puzzle, thank you for asking. ("COMO estas?" means "How are you?")
  • BAO (49A: Steamed bun) BAO is a type of filled bun that originated in Chinese cuisine. Yeasted dough is filled with a variety of sweet or savory fillings before the buns are steamed. 
  • BASEBALL DIAMOND (57A: Playing field in "The Sandlot") The 1993 movie The Sandlot is set in the summer of 1962, and tells the story of a group of boys that gather that summer to play BASEBALL.
  • ANTLERS (62A: What the Grinch put on his dog to disguise him as a reindeer) This is a fun, playful clue.
  • HORA (6D: Circle dance performed at some Jewish weddings) During the HORA, the wedding couple is lifted into the air (while seated in chairs) while their family and friends dance circles around them. Often the couple holds opposite ends of a napkin to signify their union. It is often danced to the Jewish folk song, "Hava Nagila."
  • BAIL FUND (10D: Organization such as Free the 350) Free the 350 is a BAIL FUND organization working to raise money to BAIL out Black people incarcerated in Dane County, Wisconsin. BAIL FUND organizations are linked to BAIL reform efforts. Funds raised are used to free those being held in prison prior to trial. As with many aspects of the prison system, racial and economic disparities exist in the BAIL system. Here's a New Yorker article about BAIL FUNDs if you'd like to learn more. 
  • FLAGONS (26D: Old-fashioned ale holders) FLAGONS were usually made of metal or pottery, and had a handle and a spout, and often a lid. 
  • ODE (27D: "Crown: An ___ to the Fresh Cut") I have previously written about Crown: An ODE to the Fresh Cut, a picture book of a poem by Derrick Barnes describing a young Black boy's experience of getting a haircut. It's worth reposting the link to Caleb McLaughlin reading this great book on Netflix Jr.'s Bookmarks. 
  • TABOO (30D: Game in which certain words are off-limits) In the game TABOO, you try to get your teammates to guess a particular word. The catch is that certain words are off-limits, and of course these words are ones that would be helpful!
  • DIANA (48D: "I'm Coming Out" singer Ross) The 1980 song "I'm Coming Out" is the second single from the album DIANA
  • BEE (59D: "Akeelah and the ___") Akeelah and the BEE is a 2006 movie about an 11-year-old girl who participates in the Scripps National Spelling BEE. If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it. The movie features outstanding performances by Keke Palmer, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne. 
Geography review:
  • WABASH (1D: River in Indiana) The WABASH River is 503 miles long, and flows from its headwaters in Ohio, through Indiana, and forms part of the Indiana-Illinois border.
  • DAKOTA (46D: Indigenous people for whom two U.S. states are named) Interestingly, although North and South DAKOTA are named for the DAKOTA and Lakota people, the DAKOTA are typically divided into the Eastern DAKOTA and the Western DAKOTA. 
  • SIAM (55D: Thailand's former name) Thailand, as the country was known from 1939 to 1946, and since 1948, is a country in Southeast Asia. It capital is Bangkok.
This split-word theme is a classic theme type. I really enjoyed the added level to the theme today that saw the BREAK UP of the BAND progress more as we moved down through the horizontal theme answers. This theme arrangement is enabled by the puzzles left-right mirror symmetry. I also thought it was a nice touch (intended or coincidental) that the last clue in the puzzle referenced the Spice Girls, a British pop group that is no longer together in its original configuration. This puzzle was a delightful start to my Thursday.


  1. Thank you, Sally! So glad you enjoyed the puzzle – to add to the fun, BACK BEND and BAIL FUND are also themers :)

    1. Ack, I was so focused on the BAND breaking farther apart I totally missed that aspect! Thanks for the heads up, Matthew! Will edit. Thanks for the fun puzzle!


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