September 29, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
WITHOUT A TRACE (20A: Leaving no evidence behind)
MILK CRATE (38A: Stackable dairy container)
ORDER ALA CARTE (59A: Pick and choose from a menu)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is an anagram of the word REACT. The words REACT, TRACE, CRATE, and CARTE each contain the same letters. 

Things I learned:
  • PASTE (62A: Doubanjiang, e.g.) Characteristically used in Sichuan cuisine, doubanjiang is a fermented chili bean PASTE made from broad beans, soybeans, chili peppers, salt, and flour.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HARPS (9A: Instruments on Irish euros) Just a few months ago I mentioned that the Irish euros feature HARPS. Hopefully you remembered that today.
  • GINA (18A: "Suits" actress Torres) GINA Torres played the role of Jessica Lourdes Pearson in the legal drama, Suits. She reprised the role in the spin-off TV series, Pearson, that aired in 2019 for one season. Currently, GINA Torres is playing the role of Emergency Medical Services Captain, Tommy Vega, on the TV series, 9-1-1: Lone Star. 
  • TECH (25A: Wearable ___ (Fitbit, e.g.)) Wearable TECH sounds like it's a new and modern field. Although it has certainly advanced by leaps and bounds and become more prevalent, wearable TECH has been around since the 1500s when inventor Peter Henlein created small watches that could be worn as necklaces. That invention led to the creation of wristwatches in the 1600s. Hearing aids were another early form of wearable TECH; they have been around since the 1800s.
  • LEA (27A: Tony winner Salonga) In 1991, LEA Salonga won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role of Kim in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon. In 1992, LEA Salonga provided the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin, and in 1998 she provided the singing voice for Disney's Mulan
  • GMO (50A: Non-___ seeds) GMO = genetically modified organism
  • IDINA (67A: Tony winner Menzel) I will always take the opportunity to talk about IDINA Menzel, anytime she appears in the puzzle. She won a 2003 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role of Elphaba in the musical, Wicked. IDINA Menzel plays the role of Cinderella's stepmother in the recently released Amazon Prime musical movie, Cinderella
  • ARTS (71A: Ikebana and pottery, e.g.) Ikebana is the Japanese ART of flower arrangement. Pottery is the ART of creating objects out of clay. I'm a fan of this clue type; you only need to be familiar with one of these ARTS to figure out the answer to this clue. 
  • ALI (2D: "Dear Girls" author Wong) ALI Wong is a stand-up comedian, actress, and writer. I previously wrote about her 2019 book, Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life. The book is written in the form of letters to her daughters.
  • WOKS (29D: Pans for making mapo tofu) I learned about the Sichuan bean curd dish, mapo tofu, when we saw it as an answer in the June 23, 2021 puzzle
  • OCT (35D: National Noodle Day mo.) Mark your calendars, National Noodle Day is one week away! Celebrated each year on OCTober 6, National Noodle Day celebrates noodles of all kinds. People have been eating noodles for over 4,000 years, this is a holiday worth celebrating.
  • ARMY ANTS (40D: Insects that "march") Over 200 different ant species may be referred to as ARMY ANTS. These ANTS forage in groups, "marching" together in raids. ARMY ANT colonies do not have a permanent nest, but instead are constantly on the move in search of food. A colony of ARMY ANTS can consume up to 500,000 prey animals (earthworms, larvae, and arthropods) each day.
  • DAL (46D: Masoor ___ (spiced lentil dish)) Masoor DAL translates as "red lentils" in Hindi.

    Geography review:
    • NOTRE (19A: University of ___ Dame) Located in Notre DAME, Indiana, the University of NOTRE Dame is a private university established in 1842.
    • OHIO (6D: State northeast of Kentucky) In addition to Kentucky, the state of OHIO also borders Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, and our crossword-friend, Lake Erie.
    • ETNA (60D: Active Sicilian volcano) It's only been three days since we last saw ETNA in the puzzle.
    It's been a little while since we've seen an anagram theme, and this is a fun one. The title points perfectly at what is happening here, with the letters in the word REACT arranged DIFFERENTLY in each theme answer. The theme answer MILK CRATE reminded me of my college dorm decor, as these containers featured prominently. Some nice cluing today - I especially liked STAIN (4D: Blotch on a bib) and DRAG (36D: Word before "king" or "queen"). Non-theme answers that sparkled today were NIGHT OWL, NO SWEAT, SNEEZY, HERE I AM, and ICE CREAM. This puzzle was a great way to begin my Wednesday.