Title: DOUBLE TIME
Constructor: Nate Cardin
Editor: Erik Agard
SUCH AND SUCH (16A: Placeholder phrase)
OVER AND OVER (23A: Repeatedly)
NECK AND NECK (49A: Like an extremely tight race)
HALF AND HALF (61A: Milk-cream mix in a coffee shop)
Theme synopsis: Each theme answer features a repeated (DOUBLEd) four-letter word connected by the word AND.
Things I learned:
- APACHE (13A: Like Crown Dancers) APACHE Crown Dancing is an old and traditional sacred dance. According to APACHE belief, the dance was learned from the mountain spirits as a healing ritual. The five masked Crown Dancers are the Ga'an, or mountain spirits. Wearing crowns, four of the dancers represent the directions, and the fifth is known as the clown.
- TOOT (37A: Opposite of "boot," on "Fashion Photo RuView") Fashion Photo RuView is an aftershow aired on WOW Presents Plus and YouTube. On the show, drag queens Raja and Raven evaluate the looks seen on RuPaul's Drag Race. Looks evaluated as good earn a "TOOT," while those evaluated as bad get the "boot." Occasionally, an amazingly good outfit will earn a "shoot," while a truly awful outfit will rate a "scoot."
- GTA (28D: Game hidden in "playing tag") I had the starting G- when I first read this clue, so I knew the answer must be GTA. However, I could not figure out what GTA stood for. Now I know. GTA = Grand Theft Auto, a series of video games (that I have heard of!) that were first release in 1997.
- THERESA (33D: Actress Randle) THERESA Randle's film credits include playing the role of THERESA Burnett in the movies Bad Boys (1995), Bad Boys II (2003), and Bad Boys for Life (2020).
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- OREO (14A: In a taste test by Epicurious, it lost out to the Back To Nature Classic Creme Cookie) In the Epicurious taste test, the Back to Nature Classic Creme Cookie tied with the OREO in terms of flavor. However, it earned the title of "Favorite Chocolate Sandwich Cookie" based on its list of more natural ingredients. I enjoyed this creative clue for the ever-crossword-friendly OREO.
- REBA (20A: Singer McEntire) Since the 1970s, REBA McEntire has had over 100 singles on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, including the 2009 song, "Consider Me Gone."
- LECHE (38A: Dulce de ___) Dulce de LECHE is Spanish for "sweet with milk," an apt description of the pudding-like treat made by slowly heating sugar and milk over a period of several hours. Dulce de LECHE is often used for a filling or topping for desserts.
- IS TOO (58A: Greta Thunberg book "No One ___ Small to Make a Difference") No One IS TOO Small to Make a Difference was published in 2019. The book is a collection of eleven of Greta Thunberg's speeches about climate change.
- ACLU (64A: Chase Strangio's org.) I learned about Chase Strangio, the deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, from the August 7, 2021 puzzle.
- TACKY (2D: Tastelessly showy) The word TACKY always reminds me of the children's book, TACKY the Penguin by Helen Lester.
- TOWER (12D: Cairo ___, Egypt's tallest structure) The Cairo TOWER is a 614-foot tall concrete TOWER in Cairo, Egypt. A circular observation deck and a revolving restaurant top the TOWER.
- HOT PINK (21D: Color of Elle's courtroom dress in "Legally Blonde") Here's a clip from the 2001 movie, Legally Blonde, showing Elle's HOT PINK dress.
- DELLA (51D: "Don't You Know?" singer Reese) "Don't You Know?" was a 1959 hit for DELLA Reese.
- ARUBA (7D: Island where Papiamento is spoken) ARUBA is an island country in the Caribbean. ARUBA is the first alphabetically of a trio known as the ABC islands - ARUBA, Bonaire, and Curaçao. The official languages of ARUBA are English and Papiamento. The Spanish and Portugese-based creole language, Papiamento, is the most widely spoken language on the ABC islands.
- ASIA (13D: Cambodia's continent) Cambodia is a country in Southeast ASIA. It is located on the Indochinese Peninsula, bordering Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand. The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh.
DOUBLE the fun with repeated phrases today. The theme answers are all common phrases, and I liked the symmetry of all of the repeated words being four letters long. My favorite answer in the puzzle was VICE VERSA (10D: The other way around) - mostly because it's a great phrase, but also because if you flip the theme answers the other way around, they remain the same. No matter what 52-Down claims (52D: A total drag), I would not describe this puzzle as NO FUN. Rather, it was an enjoyable way to begin my Saturday.