August 14, 2021

Title: SO BE IT

Constructor: Brooke Husic

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Guest Blogger: Mollie Cowger

Theme Answers:

SOAP OPERA (19A: English term for a telenovela)

SHOUTOUT (29A: Public credit)

SEA OTTER (34A: Marine mammal that carries around a 53-Across)

SESAME OIL (49A: Fragrant salad dressing ingredient)

Theme synopsis: “SO” be it: each theme entry is a two-word phrase in which the words begin with S and O

And now a word from our constructor:

Brooke: I really vibed with the grid shape on this one and I love how the southwest and northeast corners turned out! I like how CAPE and SWORD both have superhero clues, and 54A is the only INKY clue I will ever write if left to my own devices.

Things I learned:

  • ANGEL (16A: Basketball Olympian McCoughtry) Angel McCoughtry was part of the US women’s basketball team in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. She currently plays for the Las Vegas Aces, and she played for the Atlanta Dream for about a decade before that.
  • ARIA (18A: Solo for Lucia Lucas) Lucia Lucas’s name was new to me - she’s a trans opera singer. She features prominently in this article about transitioning as an opera performer, which is a fascinating read. 
  • FUBU (21D: “For Us, By Us” brand) FUBU is a streetwear brand founded in the 90s, and “FUBU” literally stands for “For Us, By Us”
  • MAYO (25D: Aji verde ingredient, for short) Aji verde is a mayo-based Peruvian sauce whose “verde” (green) color comes mainly from cilantro.
  • AHIMSA (38D: Jainist principle) Ahimsa is a principle of non-violence toward living things. It’s also found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, in addition to Jainism.

Random thoughts and interesting things:

  • HRT (9A: Inspiration for some before/after pictures (Abbr.)) That’s hormone replacement therapy, which many trans people use in the process of transitioning.
  • CUSSES (24A: Earns a trip to the swear jar) I like how evocative this clue is, and I also just enjoy the quaintness of the word “cuss.” 
  • SEA OTTER (34A: Marine mammal that carries around a 53-Across [STONE]) I think I knew this fact somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory - it felt familiar, but I definitely needed help from the crossings. Today I learned that “Tool use by sea otters” is a Wikipedia page!
  • ISN’T ("___ It Love?" ("Steven Universe: The Movie" song)) I haven’t seen the movie or heard the song, but Steven Universe has been on my to-watch list for a while. Here’s the song on Youtube.
  • THE (8D: Translation of the Arabic "al") I’ve seen “al” in many transliterated Arabic phrases, of course, but I don’t think I ever made the connection that it means THE. That makes for a great clue, in my opinion - something you don’t know you know. 
  • INKY (54A: Name for a plush octopus) This is adorable. I definitely had a plush octopus at some point in my childhood, and now I’m racking my brain to try to remember its name. It *might* have been Inky, and if it wasn’t, it frankly should have been!

Geography review:

  • UTAH (52A: State that’s home to Pando) This is one of my favorite fun facts, and it was a joy to see it in this puzzle. Pando, a clonal colony of aspen, is the world’s most massive organism. Move aside, whales!

Hi friends! Mollie here, covering for Sally on this fine Saturday. I’m always delighted to solve a puzzle by Brooke, and today was no exception. The four theme entries are all colorful and evocative, and I appreciate that having fairly short theme entries enabled those great stacks in the NE and SW corners - HOROSCOPE / RAISES UP / THAT’S IT and SANGRIA / SEMOLINA / CHAPBOOKS. The fill felt fun and fresh overall, and I was happy to see new-to-me entries like FUBU and AHIMSA. This puzzle was a lovely start to my weekend. 

Finally, I’d like to briefly plug the Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament on August 21 (exactly one week from today). Brooke will be co-hosting the tournament along with Sid Sivakumar and Brian Cimmet - the constructor lineups for both the main puzzles and the Mid-Day Multi Mini Meta Mayhem are just outstanding. You can sign up and/or find more information at the Lollapuzzoola website.