November 23, 2021


Constructor: Malaika Handa

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
BELLE OF THE BALL (16A: Most fashionable woman at an event)
JASMINE RICE (34A: Thai curry side dish)
AURORA BOREALIS (55A: Northern Lights)

Theme synopsis: The BEGINNING of each theme answer is the name of a DISNEY PRINCESS.

And now a word from our constructor:
Malaika: I've had this collection of theme answers sitting around for about a year now, but couldn't think of a good title or revealer. Parker came up with this one, and I think it is absolutely perfect. This puzzle reminds me of when Joon gave a summary of a meta puzzle that I wrote. He commented that I had four clues that referenced princesses, and wondered if that had something to do with the theme. (In that case it didn't! I just like princesses!!)
I'm glad I got to shout out Cora Harrington's book in the clue for 36-down! She's a blogger, although I read her Tweets more than her blog. They are so insightful and well-researched, with beautiful photographs.

Things I learned:
  • BEER (29D: Michelada ingredient) A michelada is made with BEER, lime juice, chili-based sauces, spices, tomato juice, and chili peppers. The Mexican drink is served in a salt-rimmed glass. 
  • INTIMATE (36D: "In ___ Detail" (Cora Harrington book about lingerie)) Writer and lingerie expert, Cora Harrington's blog is titled The Lingerie Addict. Her book, In INTIMATE Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie, was published in 2018. This is an excellent clue. It is inferable even for people (like me!) that aren't familiar with Cora Harrington, since "INTIMATE detail" is a well-known phrase. And, it made me want to learn more about Cora Harrington and her book.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LISA (13A: Actress Bonet) LISA Bonet played the role of Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show, and its spin-off series, A Different World
  • BELLE OF THE BALL (16A: Most fashionable woman at an event) The French word, "BELLE,"  meaning "fair" or "beautiful," was adopted into English in the 17th century. The DISNEY PRINCESS at the BEGINNING of BELLE OF THE BALL is the book-loving BELLE from Beauty and the Beast
  • LBS (28A: Abbr. on a box of cat litter) Willow is disappointed at how long it took me to figure out
    this answer. I guess I need to read the bag more carefully when I change the cat litter. Willow is thrilled, however, that this is the fourth day in a row the puzzle has included cat-related content. Here's a digression (that truly is related to this clue!): This weekend, my husband and I watched the movie Tick, Tick...BOOM, the Lin-Manuel Miranda-directed movie of the semi-autobiographical Jonathan Larson musical. (Jonathon Larson also wrote Rent.) The movie is fabulous and so well done - I highly recommend it. Though it's very minor and not directly related to the plot, there's a funny moment in the movie involving cat litter. I've seen the look on that cat's face from my own cats (past and present).
  • STEVIE (31A: Nicks of Fleetwood Mac) Rolling Stone included STEVIE Nicks in their lists of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time (number 53), and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time (number 98). One of my favorite STEVIE Nicks/Fleetwood Mac songs is the 1975 song, "Landslide."  STEVIE Nicks has also had a successful solo career, including the 1981 hit, "Edge of Seventeen."
  • JASMINE RICE (34A: Thai curry side dish) JASMINE RICE is a fragrant, long-grain RICE. The DISNEY PRINCESS at the BEGINNING of JASMINE RICE is PRINCESS JASMINE from Aladdin
  • SERENA (Williams who won the Australian Open while pregnant) SERENA Williams has an impressive seven Australian Open wins in Grand Slam Singles, and four in Grand Slam Doubles. Several months after winning the 2017 Australian Open, SERENA Williams announced she was pregnant. Her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., was born September 1, 2017.
  • IAN (43A: Janis ___ ("Mean Girls" character)) In the 2004 movie, Mean Girls, (written by Tina Fey based on a book by Rosalind Wiseman), Janis IAN is the former best friend of "mean girl" Regina George. Janis befriends the new girl, Cady, and hatches a plot to take down Regina. The Mean Girls character, Janis IAN, is named after singer, Janis IAN, whose song, "At Seventeen," is used in the movie.
  • STRAYS (44A: Some bodega cats) and RESCUE (34D: Save) So much fun to see the crossing of STRAYS and RESCUE in the grid. Bodega Cats is an uplifting account to follow on Twitter if you'd like to increase the cat content in your life. (If you don't wish to increase the cat content in your life, Willow would like to know, "Why not?")
  • AURORA BOREALIS (55A: Northern Lights) The AURORA BOREALIS is a natural light display in the sky that occurs when solar winds disturb the magnetosphere. The DISNEY PRINCESS at the BEGINNING of AURORA BOREALIS is PRINCESS AURORA, better known as Sleeping Beauty.
  • REBOOT (9D: 2021's "Gossip Girl," e.g.) The 2021 Gossip Girl REBOOT premiered on July 8. 
  • ELSA (23D: "Frozen" queen) Although Queen ELSA is not technically a princess, I'm counting this as bonus theme content.
  • JEOPARDY (34D: Game show with "Think" music) Did you play the JEOPARDY think music in your head as you filled in this answer? Such an iconic snippet of music. 
  • NPR (38D: "Code Switch" network) The weekly NPR podcast, Code Switch, features journalists of color having "the fearless conversations about race that you've been waiting for."
  • EAR (49D: (Place for a helix piercing) The helix is the prominent rim of the upper EAR. 

    Geography review:
    • CITIES (50A: Detroit and Buffalo, e.g.) Detroit is the largest city in Michigan, and the largest city on the U.S.-Canada border. Buffalo is the second-largest city in New York. Both of these CITIES are near our crossword friend, Lake Erie. Detroit is located on the Detroit River that connects to Lake Erie on the western end of the Great Lake. Buffalo is on the eastern end of Lake Erie.
    • ISRAEL (43D: Tel Aviv's country) Just yesterday we saw Tel Aviv clued as [City in ISRAEL].
    A fun straightforward theme today. In addition to the theme answers and other answers I've already highlighted, I enjoyed YEASTY, OVALTINE, and BELIEVE. This puzzle is asymmetric by one square (or two depending how you want to count it), the black square separating the answers PAL and SITS. I'm guessing this square was used to facilitate smooth fill, and as I've mentioned before, I'll always be a fan of that plan. This puzzle is fit for a PRINCESS, and was a delightful way to begin my Tuesday.