August 13, 2021

Constructor: Stella Zawistowski 
Editor: Amanda Rafkin 
Guest Blogger: Erica Hsiung Wojcik 

Theme Answers: 
CHRISTMAS CHEER (16A: December holiday spirit)
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY (35A: Star of “The Queen’s Gambit”)
RAPPERS DELIGHT (53A: “Bang-bang boogie” song by the Sugarhill Gang)

Theme synopsis: Phrases with a literal happy ending. The last word in each answer is a synonym for happiness (CHEER, JOY, DELIGHT) 

Things I learned: 
  • TIA (7A: Drag queen ___ Kofi). Competed in the second season of RuPauls’ Drag Race UK. Their name is a play on “tea or coffee?” (Hahahah!)
  • SPIN (50D: Hit the turntable like Tiff McFierce). She’s got some sweet mixtapes on her website! Here’s your soundtrack for today:
  • HES (8D: “___ All That” (Addison Rae movie)). A gender-swapped version of the 90s teen movie! Remember how in the original Usher was the high school’s DJ or MC or something? Someone use that in an indie crossword clue. 

Clues I liked: 
  • RIM (20A: It’s often grabbed during a slam dunk). Great example of a clue that evokes a fun mental image. 
  • PURR (31A: “I am VERY happy you gave me this catnip”). The Venn diagram of crossword folks and cat people is almost entirely overlapping, and I exist in that tiny sliver that isn’t engulfed by feline fixation. This is mainly because they make me ACHOO (48D: Sound during pollen season). But I still liked this clue! More inner thoughts of animals, please! 
  • GENE (61A: Subject of CRISPR editing). Have you learned about GENE editing technology yet?? It’s really fascinating. This Mindscape podcast episode with geneticist Fyodor Urnov is a nice intro. 
  • PARSE (3D: Break down grammatically). The linguist part of me appreciated this. 
  • YES (27D: “Into it!”). Super hard to find new ways to clue YES. I’m into it! 

Hello! Erica here for today while Sally takes a break from Sally’s Take. I’m delighted to review this nice smooth solve from Stella! The themers were all long (14, 13, 14), and yet the grid wasn't too sticky or segmented. There aren’t many mid-sized bonuses, but the theme answers were all so fun, I didn’t really notice. I really wanted to put in AGAVE instead of CACTI (1D: Spiky desert plants) which got me off to a rough start. Then I had ANNA instead of ANYA (35A: Star of “The Queen’s Gambit”) for a while, but that was corrected when I realized that 28D (Place for a sarcophagus, sometimes) had to be CRYPT. When I finished and looked at the grid, I loved how the Ls on the side and Ts in the middle made the themers really pop. Super helpful for folks who are new to figuring crossword themes. Thanks to Stella for this Friday fun and to Sally for inviting me to blog. HAPPY weekend, everyone!