August 5, 2021


Constructors: Brooke Husic & Wendy L. Brandes

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
HOUSE MUSIC (16A: Genre with roots in the Chicago club scene)
TIME CRUNCH (24A: Period right before a deadline)
RIDE SHARES (49A: Some carpools)
CIRCLE BACK (63A: Discuss again at a later time)

Theme synopsis: The FRONT word of each theme answer can follow the word FULL to create a new phrase. We have FULL HOUSE, FULL TIME, FULL RIDE, and FULL CIRCLE.

And now a word from our constructors:
Wendy: It is a total honor to work with Brooke -- she is a true crossword genius and an interesting, thoughtful, kind person. I learned a ton from her -- including how to set up a clueing spreadsheet and how to find an interesting way of clueing something that has been done a million times (i.e., 68-Across, Buy-one-get-one event and 38-Down, Road Goop). I also loved learning about HOUSEMUSIC! I am looking forward to more collabs!
Brooke: So excited for my and Wendy’s collaboration debut! Wendy is such a kind person and I am so glad that we’ve become friends over the past several months, and so grateful to have learned so much from her in puzzlemaking and beyond! This was so fun to make together — Wendy’s grid skills are unreal amazing. I love that we got Andrea GHEZ and SEX positive into the puzzle, and really enjoyed our email thread of ADA Limon poems that ensued after cluing this puzzle together; I really like this one.

Things I learned:
  • GHEZ (11A: Astronomer and 2020 Nobel Prize winner Andrea) Andrea GHEZ is an astrophysicist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Last year, Andrea GHEZ and her colleague Reinhard Genzel were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. I'm always happy to learn about a new-to-me female scientist, and I found this video of Andrea GHEZ discussing her work and the Nobel Prize award delightful.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OCT (1A: Two months before Dec.) and FEB (8A: Two months after Dec.) As I filled in OCT, I wondered, "Why would you clue it that way?" A nice "Aha!" moment when I came upon the clue for FEB.
  • HOUSE MUSIC (16A: Genre with roots in the Chicago club scene) HOUSE MUSIC is a genre of EDM (electronic dance music). I first learned about EDM and its genres from the August 24, 2020 puzzle. A descendant of DISCO, HOUSE MUSIC was created by DJs and music producers in the 1980s, and is characterized by repetitive 4/4 rhythms and deep basslines.
  • TIME CRUNCH (24A: Period right before a deadline) This reminded me of something I said frequently when I was doing more freelance work, "If it weren't for deadlines, nothing would get done." A TIME CRUNCH is a powerful motivator.
  • DRUM (33A: Djembe or conga, e.g.) A djembe is a goblet-shaped DRUM played with bare hands. A conga is a tall barrel-shaped DRUM played with bare hands. 
  • ALIEN (54A: "Strange Planet" creature) Strange Planet is a webcomic by Nathan Pyle. The comic features blue ALIENs living on a planet similar to Earth. Pyle began posting the webcomics on social media in 2019. Two books of the comics have been published, and an animated series based on the comic is being produced by Apple studios. 
  • OLUO (66A: "Mediocre" author Ijeoma) Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma OLUO was published in December 2020. OLUO says she started on this book by asking "fundamental questions about white male identity in America as a political and social construct." Ijeoma OLUO also wrote the 2018 book, So You Want to Talk About Race.
  • NASA (6A: Org. where Katherine Johnson worked) Katherine Johnson was a mathematician whose work at NASA was critical to the success of crewed spaceflights. She was one of the women portrayed in the 2016 movie, Hidden Figures.
  • ZEROES (12D: Round numbers) Fun clue! This clue refers to the physical characteristic of ZEROES, rather than their mathematical properties.
  • GUILD (14D: The G in SAG) SAG = Screen Actors GUILD, a union representing actors.
  • TEGAN (24D: "Closer" duo ___ and Sara) "Closer" is a 2012 song by the indie pop duo of identical twin sisters TEGAN and Sara.
  • MAPLE SYRUP (26D: Pancake condiment) MAPLE SYRUP is my pancake condiment of choice. My husband prefers MAPLE-flavored SYRUP or pancake SYRUP, which I refer to as "colored sugar water." As you may have guessed, SYRUP preference is a long-standing joke between the two of us. (Don't tell my husband, but I'm actually fine with his preference for cheap, imitation MAPLE SYRUP.)
  • MASHED (34D: Like potatoes in aloo bharta) Aloo bharta is a variation on MASHED potatoes originating from the Indian sub-continent. The dish adds onions, mustard, chili pepper, and spices to the potatoes. 
  • ADA (44D: "lucky wreck" poet Limon) Lucky Wreck was ADA Limon's first book of poetry, published in 2006. A 15th anniversary edition of the book was published earlier this year. I first learned about ADA Limon from the November 1, 2020 puzzle
  • DISCO (48D: Gloria Gaynor's genre) Well, it looks like "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor might be my earworm for the day. Last year Gloria Gaynor went viral with posts of her washing her hands while singing her DISCO hit, with the hashtag #iWillSurviveChallenge.
Geography review:
  • OMAHA (21A: Amber Ruffin's Nebraska hometown) OMAHA, Nebraska native, Amber Ruffin is the host of late-night talk show, The Amber Ruffin Show
  • ATL (42D: City with an annual Peach Drop (Abbr.)) The Peach Drop is an annual New Year's Eve event in ATLanta, Georgia, although the even was not held in 2020 or 2021. ATLanta is definitely fond of its peaches. It was just a few weeks ago that we learned there are 71 streets in ATLanta with "Peachtree" in their names. 
  • INDIANA (59D: Wabash River's state) We saw the Wabash River in the puzzle two weeks ago today, so hopefully you remembered that this 503 mile-long river runs through INDIANA. 
  • LOUIS (67D: St. ___, Missouri) Here's some St. LOUIS trivia for you: in 1904, St. LOUIS hosted both the World's Fair and the Olympics.
  • ERIE (9D: Lake near Cleveland) I was just thinking the other day that our crossword-friend ERIE has not been seen much recently. We only saw ERIE once in July. 
  • SCOT (55D: Glasgow native) Glasgow is the most populous city in SCOTland.
  • NILE (61D: River through Uganda) In addition to Uganda, the NILE runs through Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan, and Egypt before flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.
What an enjoyable set of theme answers today! They're all great phrases - I particularly enjoyed TIME CRUNCH and CIRCLE BACK. In addition to the (many) answers I've highlighted above, I also liked FUSSY EATER, and the clue for TEXT (70A: Chat with thumbs). This puzzle was a fabulous way to begin my Thursday!