November 1, 2021


Constructor: Sara Cantor

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
MAGNIFYING GLASS (7D: Detective's accessory)
THIRST TRAP (28D: Sexy instagram selfie, maybe)
FLAT SCREEN (30D: Thin TV display)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each of the THREE vertical (DOWN) theme answers is a type of DOOR. We have a GLASS DOOR, a TRAP DOOR, and a SCREEN DOOR. 

Things I learned:
  • SAM (5A: Actor/musician Milby) SAM Milby's foray into acting was in 2005, on the TV show, Pinoy Big Brother, a Philippine version of the Dutch reality TV franchise, Big Brother. The show features housemates who live together isolated from the outside world, with their movements continuously monitored. Each week one housemate is voted out of the house until only one remains. Although SAM Milby was "evicted" halfway through the series, he was a popular contestant, and the show helped launch his acting career. The Filipino-American actor, who was born in Ohio, is also a musician. His self-titled first album was released in 2006.
  • RASAM (39A: Spicy Indian soup) RASAM is a clear and spicy soup made with tamarind, tomatoes, spices, and herbs. There are many varieties of RASAM, depending on the variety of spices used. The dish may be served as a soup, or accompanying rice.
  • DETOX (51D: RuPaul's Drag Race" star with a cleansing-sounding name) DETOX appeared on the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. I was thankful for the "cleansing-sounding name" hint.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SUSHI (8A: Spider rolls, e.g.) I enjoy when I'm solving a crossword and I come across a reference that was recently featured in a previous puzzle. It feels like a small reward for solving the puzzle every day. In this case, we saw SPIDER ROLL [SUSHI order stuffed with soft-shell crab] as a theme answer just yesterday. In addition to soft-shell crab, a spider roll may include cucumber, avocado, lettuce and spicy mayonnaise - all rolled inside SUSHI rice.
  • ALOO (13A: Saag ___ (spinach and potato dish)) ALOO is a South Asian term for potatoes. Saag is a South Asian dish made with leafy greens such as spinach. Saag ALOO, therefore, is a spinach and potato dish.
  • SAY (22A: "OMG did I ___ that out loud?") Oops - was that my out loud voice? I really liked this clue! 
  • ANTI (37A: Prefix for "disestablishmentarianism") Another fun clue. At 28 letters, ANTIdisestablishmentarianism ranks among the longest words in English. It refers to opposition to the withdrawal of government support for a church or religion. Of course, when it comes to long words, the English language falls far short when compared to German. Just yesterday I read this interesting article by Katja Brinck about this very subject. 
  • ALOHA (2D: "___ 'Oe" (Hawaiian song) "ALOHA 'Oe" is a cultural symbol of Hawaii. I wrote about the song when it was featured in a clue in the August 22, 2021 puzzle
  • GOOEY (3D: Like caramel or hot fudge) Well, "delicious" didn't fit, so I guess GOOEY works as well.
  • IT'S (12D: "___ not easy being green") Why yes, I will take advantage of this opportunity to link to Kermit the Frog lamenting that IT's not easy "having to spend each day the color of the leaves..."
  • ATLAS (24D: Book with a legend) An ATLAS does have a legend, a list explaining the symbols on a map. There is also a legend in Greek mythology about ATLAS, a Titan who held up the heavens. 
  • RNA (59D: Molecule hidden in "Mother Nature") I enjoy hidden word clues, especially when the phrase relates to the word being hidden, as it does so nicely here.

    Geography review:
    • EAST (61A: Nepal-to-Bhutan direction) Both Nepal and Bhutan are landlocked countries in ASIA. Though they are close to each other, with Bhutan to the EAST of Nepal, they do not share a land border, as the countries are separated by the Indian state of Sikkim. The capital of Nepal is Kathmandu. The capital of Bhutan is Thimphu.
    • ASIA (61A: Kazakhstan's continent) Kazakhstan, located in Central ASIA, is the world's largest landlocked country. Its neighbors are Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. The capital of Kazakhstan is Nur-Sultan.
    Upon seeing the title, some solvers may have thought of the rock band, 3 DOORS DOWN. However, as that band was unknown to me, when I read the title of today's puzzle, I immediately began singing the (admittedly one DOOR short) 1978 song by Dolly Parton. A nice collection of theme answers today, ranging from the provocative THIRST TRAP to the prosaic FLAT SCREEN, with the grid-spanning MAGNIFYING GLASS in the center. The grid today is asymmetrical. This puzzle definitely made me hungry, with its SUSHI, saag ALOO, LAYS potato chips, RASAM, and GOOEY caramel and hot fudge. With all of those entries, this post could almost be part of a FOOD BLOG. Other notable entries: STORMS IN, BEST SELLER, SHORT LIST, and HOW SO. In response to this puzzle, I say, "NEATO!" It was a delightful way to begin my Monday.