July 26, 2021


Constructor: Tracy Gray

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
LADYFINGER (17A: Tiramisu cake)
PITCH BLACK (30A: Completely dark)
AID AND ABET (48A: Assist in a crime)
BLUSH WINES (65A: Pink alcoholic drinks)

Theme synopsis: The FIRST word of each them answer can follow the word FIRST to make a new phrase. We have FIRST LADY, FIRST PITCH, FIRST AID, and FIRST BLUSH.

Things I learned:
  • TED (39D: Dustin Milligan's "Schitt's Creek" role) Schitt's Creek is a TV series about a formerly wealthy family that relocates to a small town they once purchased as a joke. This much I knew. Dustin Milligan plays the role of TED Mullens, the town's veterinarian. Having not watched the show, I did not know this, and needed the assistance of crossing answers.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SPAM (9A: McDonald's ___ and Oreo Burger) The SPAM and Oreo Burger was available at McDonald's locations in CHINA for one day only, December 21, 2020. However, if you missed out on this opportunity, you can make your own at home
  • LADYFINGER (17A: Tiramisu cake) LADYFINGERs are sponge cake biscuits that are long and thin - roughly shaped like a finger, hence the name. LADYFINGERS are used as the cake base in some dessert recipes, including tiramisu and trifle. When making tiramisu, the LADYFINGERs are dipped in coffee and layered with a custard mixture.
  • EQUAL (20A: ___ Justice Initiative) The EQUAL Justice Initiative (or EJI) is a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to people that may have been wrongly convicted, and to people that cannot afford adequate legal representation. The founder of EJI, Bryan Stevenson, was depicted in the 2019 movie, Just Mercy
  • SASHA (56A: "I am ... ___ Fierce") I Am...SASHA Fierce is a 2008 album by BeyoncĂ©. Formatted as a double album, the first disc, I Am..., features pop and R& B ballads, including "Ave Maria." The second disc, Sasha Fierce, has uptempo electropop and Europe tunes, including "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."
  • EARP (67A: Wyatt or Wynona) Wyatt EARP (1848-1929) was a lawmen who worked in several places in the American West, including Dodge City, Kansas; Deadwood, South Dakota; and Tombstone, Arizona. It was in Tombstone, Arizona where Wyatt EARP, his brothers James and Virgil, and the gunfighter Doc Holliday were involved in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Wynona EARP is a supernatural Western TV series that premiered in 2015. The title character, played by Melanie Scrofano, is the great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt EARP. On the show, Wynona EARP battles the reincarnated outlaws that Wyatt EARP killed.
  • VEEP (69A: Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy) On the TV series, VEEP, Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, the (fictional) Vice-President of the United States. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won six Primetime Emmy Awards (and numerous other accolades) for her work on VEEP.
  • ARI (15D: "god is a woman" singer, to fans) "God is a woman" is a 2018 song by Ariana Grande, or ARI, as she is known to her fans. 
  • ANIMAL (48D: "The Muppet Show" drummer) ANIMAL is the drummer for The Muppet Show band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. ANIMAL was originally performed by Frank Oz, and is currently performed by Eric Jacobsen. I'm a fan of any and all puzzle references of The Muppet Show
  • HUNS (59D: "Mulan" invaders) The HUNS were a nomadic people in Central Asia between the 4th and 6th centuries. Little is known of their culture. Perhaps the most widely known HUN was King Attila. Under the leadership of King Attila, the HUNS made frequent raids on other peoples. In the 1998 animated movie, Mulan, the HUNS breach the Great Wall and invade CHINA. 
Geography review:
  • AREA (13A: 502.7 square miles, for Los Angeles) Los Angeles is the largest city in California. Over 3.9 million people live in those 502.7 square miles of Los Angeles.
  • IRAQ (2D: Baghdad's country) Baghdad is the capital of IRAQ. The AREA of Baghdad is 260 square miles, and the population is over 8.1 million people. (That's about half the size of Los Angeles, with twice as many people.)
  • CHINA (31D: World's most populous country) Over 1.4 billion people live in CHINA. Shanghai, the largest city in CHINA, has an AREA of 2,448 square miles, and a population of over 24 million people. (That's about five times the size of Los Angeles, with about six times as many people.)
This was an enjoyable and appropriate puzzle for the FIRST day of the work week. Interestingly, (well, to me anyway...) this is the second time this month we've seen PITCH BLACK as a theme answer. Although this puzzle seems conflicted about whether it wants to ATTACK or IGNORE, it did not leave me feeling BITTER at all, even when it threatened, "...OR ELSE!" This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Monday.