August 29, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
FROM EAR TO EAR (3D: Like a full-face smile)
AFRO-MEXICAN (17D: Lupita Nyong'o, ethnically)
DENVER OMELET (21D: Egg dish with ham, onions and green bell peppers)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains the word ROME. Since the theme answer are vertical, and ROME appears progressively later in each theme answer, the word ROME appears to be FALLing as we progress through the puzzle.

Things I learned:
  • ARIA (2D: Solo for Angela Gheorghiu) and OPERA (8D: Show for Angela Gheorghiu) OPERA singer, Angela Gheorghiu, has been described (by the New York Sun) as "the most glamorous and gifted OPERA singer of our time." Born in Adjud, Romania, she has performed world-wide, and has made recordings of several OPERAs (which include ARIAs, I am sure). This is a nice clue pairing, because even if you are unfamiliar with Angela Gheorghiu, figuring out one of the answers can help figure out or confirm the other.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TOM (7A: Male cat or turkey) As far as I can tell, it appears cats and turkeys are the only animal species whose males are referred to as TOM. The term TOM became popularly used in reference to male cats after the publication of a 1760 book, The Life and Adventures of a Cat, whose protagonist was named - you guessed it - TOM. There is a myth that referring to a male turkey as TOM was started by Ben Franklin, who was mad at Thomas Jefferson for opposing his desire to have the turkey declared the United States' national bird. However, it's unlikely this story is true, and more probable that referring to male turkeys as TOMs derived from the usage of the name for cats. Both TOM cats and TOM turkeys will mate with multiple females. 
  • ORE (15A: Catan resource) The reference here is to the board game, Settlers of Catan, in which players collect resources - ORE, wheat, wood, brick, and wool - that are used to build houses, roads, and cities. You may recall that I'm waiting for brick and wool to appear in the puzzle to collect a full set of resources. 
  • RIPA (26A: TV host Kelly) Since 2001, Kelly RIPA has been the co-host of the morning talk show Live! with Kelly and Ryan
  • RODEO (45A: State sport of South Dakota ) RODEO is also the official state sport of Texas, and Wyoming. 
  • UMBRELLA (53A: Prop for the Morton Salt Girl) The Morton Salt Girl, holding her iconic UMBRELLA, was introduced as the logo of Morton Salt in 1914, along with the slogan, "When it rains, it pours." The slogan and logo were meant to convey that the salt flowed freely, even in rainy weather. The Morton Salt Girl has received several makeovers through the years, the most recent in 2014 on the occasion of her 100th birthday. None of the makeovers have removed her UMBRELLA!
  • DSL (6D: Tech hidden in "ad slogan") This is a fun hidden word clue for DSL, which stands for "digital subscriber line." The hidden word clue prevented me from forgetting which letters appear in  this abbreviation. I tend to get DSL confused with DSLR (digital signal-lens reflex camera), and then I want to fill in DLR or SLR. 
  • MOSEYS (9D: Walks in a leisurely way) I like the word MOSEYS. Interestingly, Merriam-Webster defines the word as meaning both: 1. to hurry away, and 2. to move in a leisurely or aimless manner. I've never heard the word used to mean hurry, though (again according to Merriam Webster) apparently that was the meaning when the word was first used around 1829. It makes me wonder how the meaning evolved to usually be used to mean the opposite of its original meaning. The etymology of MOSEYS is unknown.
  • PEAR (12D: Korean ___ (juicy Asian fruit)) A Korean PEAR, also known as Asian PEAR, Japanese PEAR, TAIWANESE pear, or apple PEAR, has a high water content and a gritty texture. In the city of Naju, in South Korea, there is a museum dedicated to PEARs - the Naju PEAR Museum
  • BOT (13D: Spam source) We're not talking about edible Spam, but rather the unsolicited messages.
  • AFRO-MEXICAN (17D: Lupita Nyong'o, ethnically) AFRO-MEXICAN refers to MEXICANs with African heritage. Lupita Nyong'o was born in Mexico. Her parents are Kenyan, and she has dual Mexican and Kenyan citizenship. Her family moved to Kenya when she was a baby, and Lupita Nyong'o grew up in Nairobi. Lupita Nyong'o played the role of Nakia in the 2018 movie Black Panther
  • DENVER OMELET (21D: Egg dish with ham, onions and green bell peppers) This is the first time we've seen DENVER OMELET as an answer in the puzzle, but we have seen one of its other names - WESTERN OMELET - as a theme answer previously
  • RAMI (23D: "Until Dawn" actor Malek) Until Dawn is a video game first released in 2015. The game is an interactive horror/drama game in which a player assumes control of eight adults whose lives are threatened. The player attempts to solve the mystery while also trying to help the characters survive. RAMI Malek  provided motion capture and voice acting for the character named Josh Washington. The game uses the "butterfly effect," a system in which each choice a player makes affects the storyline and can alter the outcome of the game, including whether each character survives. To help make sure the game was scary, developers used a galvanic skin response test to assess the fear levels of testers. (I will not be playing this game.)
  • ONESIE (46D: Garment that might have a hood with animal ears) This is an adorable clue for ONESIE. It did make me wonder why we have a fascination with putting animal ears on babies...? We were definitely guilty of that when our kids were young. I'm remembering in particular a piglet costume I made for my daughter by attaching ears to a hoodie. (You'll just have to imagine it, as I'm not sure I can quickly find a photo.)

    Geography review:
    • ERIE (41A: Creepy-sounding lake) We saw our crossword-friend ERIE two days ago (also in a Zhouqin Burnikel puzzle), and this makes the fifth appearance this month. 
    • IDAHO (27D: Only state whose seal was designed by a woman) The woman's name was Emma Edward Green. She entered a contest in 1890, and her design was chosen for the official state seal of IDAHO. The design of the seal has since been updated, but retains the major elements of Emma Edward Green's design. The original painting Emma submitted is on display in the IDAHO State Museum. 
    • UTAH (53D: Its state seal features a beehive) It was just a few days ago (in a Zhouqin Burnikel puzzle), that UTAH was clued in reference to its motto of "Industry," and I mentioned this motto is related to the state's symbol of a beehive. The beehive is used to symbolize UTAH as a community that works together and supports one another. 
    I enjoyed seeing THE FALL OF ROME depicted visually in today's puzzle. Great theme answers today, as well; it's hard to read FROM EAR TO EAR and not smile. The horizontal answer of STANDS ALONE was also nice. This puzzle was a fine way to begin my Sunday.