September 3, 2021


Constructor: Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MINECRAFT STREAM (19A: Broadcast during which a pickaxe might be accidentally thrown into lava)
CRAIG OF THE CREEK (38A: Cartoon whose title character lives in Herkleton, Maryland)
BABBLING BROOK (55A: Part of a nature sounds playlist, perhaps)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is a body of water that FLOWS: STREAM, CREEK, BROOK.

And now a word from our constructor:
Brooke: I had so much fun with this puzzle's grid and really wanted all the non-theme long stuff to be super fun given the flexibility of the (non-requisite! but ideally in the spirit of the title) asymmetry. I myself am a SYNESTHETE, but not a color/sound one! I also had a ton of fun cluing this, and I think Erik's clue for 19A is totally delightful.

Things I learned:
  • DESI (17A: "American ___" (Deep Katdare/Purva Bedi film)) DESI is a term used to refer to people or products from the Indian subcontinent. This much I knew, but I hadn't heard of the 2001 movie, American DESI. Deep Katdare stars as Krishnagopal Reddy, who goes by "Kris" to distance himself from his Indian heritage. When he goes to college, Kris is dismayed to discover he has been assigned Indian roommates. Purva Bedi plays the role of Nina Shah, whom Kris is surprised to discover is also of Indian descent, and, unlike him, she is connected to and appreciates Indian culture. 
  • MINECRAFT STREAM (19A: Broadcast during which a pickaxe might be accidentally thrown into lava) MINECRAFT is a popular video game in which players can explore the environment and craft items to use, such as pickaxes. True confession, though I've heard a lot about MINECRAFT, I've never played it, so if I say something that doesn't make sense, feel free to (gently) let me know. During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in both playing video games, and video game streaming, including MINECRAFT STREAMs. The live streaming service Twitch allows viewers to communicate with the players by typing comments in the chat stream. Apparently, it is a popular pastime to try and trick newer streamers of MINECRAFT to accidentally throw their pickaxe into lava
  • ADAMS (1D: "The Bachelorette" host Tayshia) My knowledge of The Bachelorette comes from listening to my daughter and husband watch it in the adjacent room. Now that my daughter no longer lives at home, my knowledge has become more limited. Therefore, I needed crossing answers to come up with Tayshia's last name. Tayshia ADAMS was a contestant on season 23 of The Bachelor, and became The Bachelorette on that show's 16th season. She co-hosted Season 17 of The Bachelorette, and has been announced as co-host of the show's 18th season. 
  • NFL (35D: Org. with a "Football is gay" ad) This answer was inferable, but I hadn't seen the "Football is gay" ad mentioned in the clue. (Possibly related to not watching TV...) The ad originally aired in June of this year, during Pride month, and a week after Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay. The ad's message is that football is for everyone, and the end of the ad encourages donations to The Trevor Project. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CRAIG OF THE CREEK (38A: Cartoon whose title character lives in Herkleton, Maryland) I learned about the animated TV series, CRAIG OF THE CREEK, from the May 28, 2021 puzzle. In the TV show, CRAIG and his friends, Kelsey and J.P. have adventures, many of which take place in the titular CREEK. The fictional Herkleton, Maryland is a suburb of the Balitimore, Maryland/Washington D.C. area. 
  • BABBLING BROOK (55A: Part of a nature sounds playlist, perhaps) Not only is a BABBLING BROOK soothing to listen to (and watch), the phrase BABBLING BROOK is also fun to say. I am also delighted that Brooke constructed her name (though not spelled the same way, of course) into this puzzle. (To be clear, I'm not suggesting that Brooke is BABBLING!)
  • SYNESTHETE (10D: Person who might perceive color when they hear music) A SYNESTHETE is a person for whom stimulation of one sense can also produce sensation in a different mode. For example, some SYNESTHETEs, as the clue indicates, might perceive the musical note C as the color blue. Other SYNESTHETEs might always associate the number three with the smell of onions. Here's a Scientific American article that discusses synesthesia, if you'd like to learn more. 
  • ATTA (11D: Palindromic flour) ATTA is a wholemeal wheat flour with a high gluten content. ATTA is used to make flatbreads such as roti, naan, and chapati.
  • OMG (26D: "aslkdfj wow") The letters "aslkdfj," which are all found on the home row of a keyboard are often used in various combinations as filler text. In this particular use, it's a way of somewhat saying, "I have no words." 
  • EBBED (51D: Flowed out like the tide) So, GO WITH THE FLOW, in other words. An appropriate clue/answer pair for this puzzle.
  • UBE (62D: Purple ingredient in halo-halo) An UBE is a species of yam with a vivid purple color. UBE is used in Filipino cuisine, and can be added to the cold dessert halo-halo, which is made from crushed ice and evaporated milk. Halo-halo is the unofficial national dessert of the Philippines.

    Geography review:
    • LAO (42A: Southeast Asian language) LAO is the official language of Laos, and is also spoken in northeast Thailand.
    • SUDAN (6D: Khartoum's country) Khartoum is the capital of SUDAN.
    As I write this, the view out of my window is of rain, so the STREAMs, CREEKs, and BROOKs will soon be FLOWing quite a bit, I'm sure. A lovely set of theme answers today. As Brooke mentioned in her notes, the grid pattern in this puzzle is asymmetrical. That is, it does not have the usual rotational, mirror, or diagonal symmetry usually seen in crossword grids. Although it wasn't the case for this puzzle, asymmetry can be useful if the theme answers are not of paired length. I enjoy asymmetry best when - as is the case in this puzzle - it's just slightly asymmetrical. You don't necessarily notice it while solving, and when you do it makes you think, "Wait, is this puzzle symmetrical or not?" Plenty of enjoyable answers today in addition to the theme. The always stilted sounding, "THIS IS HE," as well as SYNESTHETE, STAR SIGNS, PAINTBALL, MENSCH, and BOGUS. This puzzle was a great way to begin my Friday.