Title: BANK OPENINGS
Constructor: Rafael Musa
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
WORLD RECORD (17A: 9.58 seconds, for the men's 100-meter dash)
BLOOD RELATIVE (38A: Person who might be found through DNA testing)
FOOD DESERTS (61A: Areas with limited access to affordable nutrition)
Theme synopsis: The OPENING word of each word can be placed in front of the word BANK to form a new phrase. We have a WORLD BANK, a BLOOD BANK, and a FOOD BANK.
Things I learned:
- ASAHI (15A: Japanese Beer Brand) Since I rarely drink (or buy) beer, I had no idea on this answer, and had to rely completely on crossing answers. This proved slightly challenging - see TRES below - but I did get there. ASAHI Breweries was founded as the Osaka Beer Company in 1889. In 1987, the company introduced ASAHI Super Dry, which has become its flagship brand. ASAHI means "morning sun" in Japanese.
- VICTORIA (40D: Singer and songwriter Monet) As a singer, VICTORIA Monét released an EP titled Jaguar in August of last year. As a songwriter, she has written songs for several artists including Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, Nas, and Coco Jones. Two of the songs she has co-written for Ariana Grande are "Thank U, Next" and "7 Rings."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- CELTS (6A: Boston hoopers, for short) The Boston Celtics, or CELTS for short, are an NBA team. I am always delighted when I actually know a sports answer!
- WORLD RECORD (17A: 9.58 seconds, for the men's 100-meter dash) It's no surprise that this WORLD RECORD is held by Usain Bolt, who set this particular record in 2009.
- EEYORE (21A: Pooh's gloomy 23-Across) and PAL (23A: Buddy) I have a soft spot for gloomy but lovable EEYORE.
- SPOON (42A: Little ___ (person getting snuggled)) This is a fun way to clue the word SPOON. Spooning - snuggling together while facing the same direction - has been shown to have health benefits, as it leads to a release of oxytocin, a hormone that can make one feel happy and comforted.
- SIKHS (45A: Followers of Guru Nanak) Guru Nanak, whom I have written about previously, was the founder of Sikhism.
- CAT-SIT (56A: Watch a neighbor's kitty) If you own pets, you know that having a reliable person to take care of them while you are away is a valuable asset. Shoutout to our friend, Deanna! She not only CAT-SITs for Willow when we are out-of-town, but over the last 27 years has watched a variety of pets that have been part of our family (cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and a hedgehog), and also used to babysit our children when they were young.
- FOOD DESERTS (61A: Areas with limited access to affordable nutrition) Areas are considered to be FOOD DESERTS if residents live more than one mile from a supermarket in an urban area, or more than 10 miles from a supermarket in a rural area. The lack of access to a supermarket often means that availability of fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats is limited. If food is available in such areas, from gas station markets or fast food restaurants, it tends to be processed and high in sugar and fats. FOOD DESERTS are a significant challenge in the United States, with the USDA reporting that over 23 million people live in areas considered FOOD DESERTS.
- ANA (66A: "Love, Victor" actress Ortiz) I have previously written about the TV show, Love, Victor, and about ANA Ortiz's role as Victor's mother.
- SONIA (67A: Justice Sotomayor) SONIA Sotomayor has been an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court since August 2009.
- ERDOS (5D: Mathematician Paul) I knew of Paul ERDOS, but the last letter of his last name took some time being retrieved from memory. Paul ERDOS was a Hungarian mathematician. He is the subject of the 1998 book, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman. During his lifetime, Paul ERDOS would pose unresolved problems, and offer cash prizes for their solutions. Paul ERDOS has a number of things named after him. ERDOS died in 1996 at the age of 83, just hours after solving a math problem at a conference.
- THREE (9D: Tres, in English) I tripped myself up here because for far too long I was thinking of the word "tres" in French, which means "very," instead of the word "tres" in Spanish that means THREE.
- ODE (53D: "___ to Our Ocean" (Amanda Gorman poem)) For World Ocean Day in June, Amanda Gorman and Lonely Whale collaborated to make a video of "ODE to Our Ocean." I recommend spending three minutes of your day to watch and listen.
- SAO (16A: ___ Paulo, Brazil) SAO Paulo is the most populous city in Brazil, and the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world.
- IDAHO (58A: State known for its potatoes) The state of IDAHO produces about one-third of the United States's potato crop.
- LAO (8D: Language that's the name of an Asian country minus its last letter) The LAO language is spoken by the LAO people, and is the official language of Laos. LAO is also spoken in northeast Thailand.
- ARAB (24D: United ___ Emirates) The United ARAB Emirates, or UAE, is located on the Arabian Peninsula, where it borders the Persian Gulf.
If you've ever wanted to open a BANK, today's puzzle is for you. Three interesting theme answers today. I especially liked seeing FOOD DESERTS in the puzzle. I first learned of the challenge of FOOD DESERTS in 2013 when I wrote some curriculum for a nonprofit organization in St. Louis, Missouri. Access to nutritious food is a difficulty faced by many in this country, and a problem that many people (who don't live in FOOD DESERTS) are unaware of. It was interesting to me that the new phrase made from this theme answer - FOOD BANK - would be a helpful thing in a FOOD DESERT. (Stepping off of my soapbox now.) In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I also liked SLOSHES (a fun word to say!) and YOU PICK. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Thursday.