November 17, 2021


Constructor: Zhoquin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MUSIC ON HOLD (16A: Tunes for customer support callers)
MODERN WORLD (36A: Present-day setting)
MOLLYWOOD (60A: Malayalam cinema)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer BREAKs THE word MOLD, with some of the letters occurring at the beginning of the answer and the remaining letters found at the end.

Things I learned:
  • POET (20A: Jenny Zhang, for example) Jenny Zhang is a POET and short story writer. A fun thing I discovered is that she attended the Iowa Writers Workshop in 2009-2010. That means for a couple of years Jenny Zhang and I lived in the same city. Sadly, we didn't meet.
  • MOLLYWOOD (60A: Malayalam cinema) MOLLYWOOD is the term used to refer to a part of the Indian movie industry dedicated to making films in the Malayalam language. Malayalam is one of 22 scheduled languages in India. It is spoken by the Malayali people in the Indian state of Kerala and a couple of other places. MOLLYWOOD is based in Kerala.
  • EDENS (62A: "___ Zero" (manga)) EDENS Zero is a science fantasy manga series by Hiro Mashima. The series has been adapted into a TV show.
  • MISSY (51D: Swimming great Franklin) MISSY Franklin is a former competitive swimmer. She competed for Team USA at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, and is a five-time gold medalist.
  • COCO (57D: Surfer Ho) COCO Ho is a professional surfer. She was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has been surfing since she was seven years old. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • MUSIC ON HOLD (16A: Tunes for customer support callers) We've all heard it. We can thank Alfred Levy for MUSIC ON HOLD. In 1962, he noticed that music from the radio station next to his factory was being picked up by the company's phone system when callers were put ON HOLD. After discovering the loose wire that was causing this issue, Alfred Levy patented MUSIC ON HOLD in 1966. I've mostly heard this referred to as "hold music," so it took some crossing answers for me to get the words in the correct order here.
  • I WISH (21A: Nostalgic Stevie Wonder hit) Stevie Wonder's 1976 song, "I WISH," talks about his childhood and how he would like to go back and relive it. 
  • DALE (47A: Glass artist Chihuly) DALE Chihuly is a glass artist known for his large-scale blown
    glass sculptures. I am a fan of DALE Chihuly's work, and have enjoyed visiting his gallery in Seattle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, a couple of times, as well as seeing his works in various other places including London, England, and Omaha, Nebraska. 
  • COOK (57A: Make some gimbap, for example) As I learned from the February 3, 2021 puzzle, gimbap is a Korean dish of rice and other ingredients rolled in dried sheets of seaweed. 
  • HARES (59A: Unlike rabbits, they're born with their eyes open) This is your fun fact of the day, courtesy of the crossword!
  • DADDY (65A: "___, Papa, and Me" (children's book)) DADDY, Papa, and Me is a 2009 picture book by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson. Lesléa Newman says she wrote this book and another book, Mommy, Mama, and Me, because she thinks "it is important for kids from all types of families to see themselves portrayed in books.
  • TRIO (4D: Group such as Sugababes) Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena, and Siobhán Donaghy are the TRIO known as Sugababes. 
  • URL (8D: is one) Warning: If you visit the URL,, you may find yourself wanting to adopt a cat or dog. Willow recommends a cat, though she does miss our dog at times. 

    Geography review: 

    • BOUNCE (2D: Big Easy music) and PO' BOY (25D: Big Easy sandwich) As we were reminded just a couple of weeks ago, "The Big Easy" is one of the nicknames for New Orleans, Louisiana. BOUNCE music is a style of New Orleans hip hop that originated in the late 1980s. A PO' BOY is a sandwich of meat served on New Orleans French bread.
    • THAILAND (10D: Bangkok's country) Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of THAILAND. 
    A classic theme type today. I was able to correctly predict the theme from the title. I do like that the BREAK of THE MOLD progresses as you move from the top to the bottom of the puzzle, from M-OLD to MO-LD to MOL-D. In addition to the answers highlighted above, I also liked the playful ME THREE. The grid is asymmetrical, with 11-, 11-, and 9-letter theme answers. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Wednesday.