October 11, 2021


Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
THE BIG APPLE (18A: Nickname for New York City)
DURGA PUJA (36A: Festival celebrating the defeat of Mahishasura) 
MAKING A PLAN (58A: Strategizing)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains the word GAP connecting words in the answer. 

Things I learned:
  • APP (1A: Miiriya is one) I definitely plan to check out Miiriya - it's an APP that lets you shop Black-owned businesses. 
  • DURGA PUJA (36A: Festival celebrating the defeat of Mahishasura) DURGA is a Hindu goddess associated with protection, strength, and motherhood. The festival DURGA PUJA celebrates her defeat of the demon king, Mahishasura. The five-day celebration of DURGA PUJA begins today, making this a great and timely central theme answer. This article from Hindustan Times will tell you more about DURGA PUJA. 
  • ATE IN (63A: Did “homokase,” for example) “Homakase” is a portmanteau of “home” and “omakase” (a Japanese phrase that loosely translates to “chef’s choice”). Homakase is a dining trend in which a sushi chef prepares a tasting menu in your home kitchen. 
  • DEE (68A: Sheryl Lee Ralph’s character on “Moesha”) I just learned about the TV show, Moesha, a few weeks ago. Sheryl Lee Ralph played the role of DEE Mitchell, Moesha’s stepmother. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • DIA (14A: ___ de Los Muertos) DIA de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a time to pray for and remember family and friends who have died. It is a Mexican holiday celebrated on November 1 and 2. 
  • SULU (24A: George Takei’s “Star Trek” role) George Takei played the role of  USS Enterprise helmsman, Hikaru SULU, in the Star Trek TV series and movies. He is a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community and for the rights of immigrants. 
  • OREGANO (27A: Chimichurri herb) and PARSLEY (3D: Chimichurri herb) This was a fun pair of duplicate clues whose answers cross in the grid. Chimichurri is a condiment that originated in Argentina, and is made of OREGANO, PARSLEY, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.
  • ZONE (33A: Word after “comfort” or “Twilight”) and INNER (35A: Word before “circle” or “child”) This was an enjoyable pair of consecutive clues. It amused me that the “word after” clue came before the “word before” clue. 
  • AGREES (46A: Has the same opinion) and DEBATES (48A: Discussions of opposing views) I liked the visual effect of AGREES and DEBATES appearing in the same row on opposite sides. 
  • LIP (10D: Pout part) Did you stick your LIP out when you filled in this answer? 
  • UMPTEEN (11D: Very many) UMPTEEN is such a fun word! In the early 1900s, the word “umpty” began to be used to mean “an indefinite number.” The fusion of “umpty” with “teen” led to UMPTEEN. 
  • HIJAB (31A: Abaya accompaniment) An abaya is a loose over-garment worn by some Muslim women. The abaya covers the body except for the hands, feet, and head. It may be worn with a HIJAB which covers the hair and head. 
  • ISSA RAE (45D: Founder of Hoorae Media) Did you remember that we (or at least I) learned this nine days ago?

    Geography review:
    • THE BIG APPLE (18A: Nickname for New York City) This nickname originated in the 1920s in reference to prizes available for horse races held in the city. THE BIG APPLE was officially adopted in 1971 as a part of a marketing campaign to increase tourism to New York City. 
    • SRI (43A: ___ Lanka) SRI Lanka is an island country in South Asia. 
    • IOWA (56A: Maquoketa Caves State) Hey, I knew this answer! The Maquoketa Caves are about 70 miles northeast of where I live in IOWA. 
    I'm back! I hope you've enjoyed the stellar guest blog posts by Brooke Husic, Enrique Henestroza Anguiano, Matthew Stock, and Sid Sivakumar. I know I have! For the last two weeks I've been on vacation, exploring all four of Colorado's National Parks. I enjoy being able to maintain the blog while I'm on the road, but it's also lovely to have a few days off, and I'm grateful for my guest blogging crew. I always know the blog is in good hands when they're in charge. (As you can see,
    Willow is happy I am home!)
    I'm happy to be back to blogging, and this was a great puzzle to write about. I have fond memories of riding the London Underground, and hearing the warning to MIND THE GAP. Today the GAP is found bridging the GAPs between words in the theme answers. I was delighted to learn about DURGA PUJA and the APP Miiriya. The cluing was great today. In addition to those I've already mentioned, I especially enjoyed the clues for SLURP (9A:Soup lover’s sound) and IT’S ME (20A: Clarification about an unrecognizable self-portrait). The columns of three 7-letter words in each corner of the grid are quite impressive construction. 
    Today is a great day to tell you about a recent USA Today "Backstory" article, about Erik Agard and his work editing the puzzle we know and love. I recommend checking it out. Thanks to Erik for today's enjoyable puzzle which was a great start to my Monday.