October 17, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
CECE WINANS (16A: Singer with the record label PureSprings Gospel)
CC CREAMS (35A: Alternatives to tinted moisturizers)
SEE SEE RIDER (60A: Blues song first recorded by Ma Rainey)

Theme synopsis: The first words of the theme answers are homophones of each other: CECE, CC, SEE SEE.

Things I learned:
  • HOLM (18A: UFC fighter Holly) and TITLE (22A: UFC fighter's quest) The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a company that promotes MMA (mixed martial arts). The UFC produces men's and women's MMA events worldwide. Holly HOLM is a former professional boxer and kickboxer who now competes in the UFC. In 2015, HOLM held the UFC TITLE for Women's Bantamweight Championship for 111 days. Fun Fact: Holly HOLM and I have something in common. She has been nicknamed, "The Preacher's Daughter," because her father is a pastor. I also am a preacher's daughter. (That's where the similarities between us end!)
  • VIDEOS (21A: Youku upload) Youku is a VIDEO hosting service based in Beijing, China.
  • OLE (29A: Cheer at a Colo-Colo game) Colo-Colo is a professional football club in Santiago, Chile. (Football here being the sport people in the U.S. refer to as soccer. Can we just agree this game is football since it's played with the feet, and rename the U.S. game called football?)
  • CC CREAMS (35A: Alternatives to tinted moisturizers) CC CREAMS are beauty products that first appeared on the market in 2010. "CC" may mean "Color Control" or "Color Correcting," depending on the brand. I had no idea CC CREAMS existed, demonstrating once again how little time I spend in the beauty products aisle. There are also BB creams (Blemish Balm or Beauty Balm) and DD creams (Dynamic Do-all or Daily Defense).
  • KARATE (27D: Ariel Torres' martial art) Ariel Torres represented Team USA in KARATE at the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021). He won a bronze medal in Men's kata. Kata is the performance of a set series of KARATE positions and movements. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • IDINA (13A: Menzel who played Elphaba in "Wicked") This is an excellent opportunity to link to IDINA Menzel singing, "Defying Gravity." 
  • CECE WINANS (16A: Singer with the record label PureSprings Gospel) CECE WINANS founded PureSprings Gospel in 1999. The label's first released album was Alabaster Box by CECE WINANS, which reached number one on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart. 
  • ADA (68A: Sci-fi author Palmer) When I first learned about ADA Palmer from the
    August 8, 2021 puzzle, I asked my son whether he had read her books, because he's my favorite sci-fi fan. He had, of course read them, and then he gave me Too Like The Lightning, the first book in ADA Palmer's Terra Ignota series, for my birthday a couple of weeks later. I haven't read it yet - in my defense, I received eight books for my birthday! (My family knows me well.) I am definitely looking forward to getting acquainted with ADA Palmer's writing.
  • SEE SEE RIDER (60A: Blues song first recorded by Ma Rainey) It was 1924 when Ma Rainey recorded "SEE SEE RIDER," a traditional song that likely originated on the vaudeville circuit. For her recording, Ma Rainey was accompanied by Louis Armstrong (cornet), Charlie Green (trombone), Buster Bailey (clarinet), Fletcher Henderson (piano), and Charlie Dixon (banjo). In 2004, Ma Rainey's recording of "SEE SEE RIDER" was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress
  • STEWS (67A: Budae-jjigae and nikujaga, e.g.) Budae-jjigae, or "army base stew" is a spicy sausage stew. Nikujaga is a stew of Japanese origin, flavored with soy sauce and mirin. I've learned about both of these STEWS from previous puzzles, but since two examples were given I only had to remember one of them to come up with the answer.

    Geography review:
    • ARID (14A: Like the climate in western Rajasthan) Rajasthan is a state in northern India that borders on Pakistan. The ARID Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is in the western part of the state.
    • EAST (19A: Oregon-to-Idaho direction) We just discussed this yesterday
    • ARAB (7D: The A in UAE) The UAE, or United ARAB Emirates is a country on the Arabian peninsula in Western Asia. The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.
    When I filled in the first theme answer, CECE WINANS, I wondered if the theme answers were all going to feature repeated syllables. Well, yes, but there's more! It was fun to discover the repetitive beginnings of the theme answers all sounded alike. Sometimes a collection of words in a certain part of the puzzle catches my eye, and today it was the somewhat frightening vibe of the lower half of the grid, with a SCAM ALERT, a STAB, and a LIE. It's EVIDENT why TIRADES might occur followed by one who ERASES, SEVERS, and DEPARTS. I have an IDEA. I'LL move to the upper half of the grid. GOOD JOB, Zhouqin, this puzzle was an enjoyable start to my Sunday.


    1. Zhouqin Burnikel is a most prolific cruciverbalist who also sets under the name C.C.Burnikel, and is headmistress of the blog Crossword Corner devoted to the L.A.Times crosswords. It was from a mention there that I learned about this blog.

      I also notice "34a Again ___ again" as an easter egg to the puzzle's theme.

      1. Agreed, Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel is an amazing constructor, and she's great about incorporating those extras like the "Again AND again" in today's puzzle.


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