November 29, 2021


Constructor: Rebecca Goldstein

Editor: Amanda Rafkin (This is correct although the app lists the editor as Erik.)

Theme Answers:
TOP TEN LIST (16A: Ranking of favorites, maybe)
POT-BELLIED PIG (35A: Pet that oinks)
OPT OUTSIDE (56A: Hashtag that encourages people to reconnect in nature)

Theme synopsis: A DREIDEL is a TOP, and the title lets us know we are going to SPIN (mix-up, shuffle, or anagram) THE DREIDEL. The first words of the theme answers - TOP, POT, and OPT - are anagrams of each other. 

Things I learned:
  • KLEE (43A: Pyro character in "Genshin Impact") Genshin Impact is a role-playing video game released in September 2020. In the anime-style game, a player controls characters at a party, and can switch between characters while playing to take advantage of the different skills each character. Each character has control over a natural element. KLEE is a Pyro (fire) character. 
  • TANIA (9D "Qismat" actress) Qismat is a 2018 Indian Punjabi-language movie, and one of the highest-grossing Punjabi movies of all time. Punjabi is a language spoken by the Punjabi people and is native to Pakistan and India. TANIA won a Brit Asia TV Award for Best Supporting Actress for Qismat. TANIA also stars in Qismat 2, released in September of this year.
  • DYE (42D: Good ___ Young (hair product line)) In their own words from their website, Good DYE Young "cultivates a safe and inclusive community that values vibrant self-expression and creativity. We also make bad ass hair products." I was not familiar with Good DYE Young, but the WITTY (23D: Like a punster) product name was easily inferable. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CHEF (1A: Samin Nosrat, e.g.) Samin Nosrat is the author of the 2017 cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, and is featured in the four-part Netflix series of the same name. 
  • CLAY (20A: "I have a little dreidel, I made it out of ___") This is the first of several answers providing bonus theme content for today's puzzle. (You know I am a fan of bonus theme content!) This particular answer also gave me an earworm. "I Have a Little Dreidel," is also known as "The Dreidel Song," or "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel." The version of this Hanukkah song I am most familiar with is the version sung by Raffi, which I listened to many times with my children.
  • SING (21A: Perform a rendition of "Light One Candle") Speaking of Hanukkah songs (and bonus theme content), "Light One Candle" is a song by Peter, Paul and Mary. The trio first performed the song (written by Peter Yarrow) at a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1982. 
  • LATKE (25A: Fried Hanukkah treat) LATKEs (potato pancakes) are traditionally prepared to celebrate Hanukkah. (Bonus theme content!)
  • POT-BELLIED PIG (35A: Pet that oinks) POT-BELLIED PIGs are a domestic breed of pig that is calmer and smaller than pigs usually found on farms. The breed came from Vietnam.
  • YIDDISH (47A: Source of "chutzpah" and "mensch") YIDDISH is a West Germanic language. It was historically spoken by the Jewish diaspora in the Roman Empire. (I'm counting this as bonus theme content.) Chutzpah means audacity, and a mensch is a person of integrity.
  • CLUE (51A: Crossword hint) I always appreciate a self-referential CLUE.
  • OPT OUTSIDE (56A: Hashtag that encourages people to reconnect in nature) The hashtag OPT OUTSIDE (#OPTOUTSIDE) began in 2015 when REI chose to close their stores on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and pay their employees to spend time outside. 
  • HIPPO (2D: Animal that can devour a watermelon in one bite) I knew this immediately! I have previously mentioned that my favorite HIPPO is Fiona, who lives with her mother at the Cincinnati Zoo. Check out Fiona and her mom celebrating National Watermelon Day.
  • IDA (12D: Tin who coined the word "FemTech") At first I thought the name IDA Tin was new to me, but then I remembered I have written about her before. I even mentioned that this Danish entrepreneur, who is the co-founder and CEO of the period tracking app CLUE, is credited with coining the term "FemTech." I also noted the potential for future cluing possibilities, and here we are! FemTech (female technology) is a category of software and services using technology to focus on women's health.
  • RAE (29D: Issa of "The Lovebirds") The Lovebirds is a 2020 romantic comedy. The movie stars Issa RAE and Kumail Nanjiani as a couple that decides to break off their four-year relationship and instead finds themselves entangled in a series of events involving murder, blackmail, and secret societies. 
  • PREACHER (35D: "Son of a ___ Man" (Dusty Springfield hit)) "Son of a PREACHER Man" is a 1968 song by Dusty Springfield. The song was used for a scene of the 1994 movie, Pulp Fiction.
  • SZA (55D: "Good Days" singer) "Good Days" is a 2020 song by SZA. Two music videos were released for "Good Days." One of the videos was composed of fan-submitted footage in response to a request by SZA for fans to send videos of happy and sad moments.
  • SHO (58D: "Work in Progress" network) Work in Progress is a SHOwtime TV series the premiered in 2019. The series is filmed in Chicago, and stars Abby McEnany in a semi-autobiographical role as a self-identifying "fat, queer dyke." 

    Geography review:
    • IRAN (27A: Tehran's country) Tehran is the capital of IRAN. Tehran has several sister cities (agreements between cities to promote cultural and commercial ties) including Baghdad, Iraq, London, England, and Los Angeles, California.
    • TROY (38A: City in "The Iliad") The ancient city of TROY is located in present-day Turkey. Attributed to Homer, The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem set during the 10-year siege of TROY known as the Trojan War.
    Chag sameach (Happy holiday) to those celebrating Hanukkah! This puzzle is appropriately-timed, as Hanukkah began last night and lasts until December 6. I enjoyed the anagram theme, as well as all of the bonus theme content that definitely made this puzzle a festive solve. All of the theme answers were solid, and I was aided in identifying OPT OUTSIDE, when I realized OPT was the anagram of these three letters we hadn't yet seen. I enjoyed the science content in IRON (14A: Fe, on the periodic table) and ACID (15A: Substance with a low pH). Rebecca has a Ph.D. in Pharmacology (woot!) and often comes through with content to delight the scientist in me. In addition to those entries I've already highlighted, I also liked I CAN'T WAIT, STICKY NOTE, and WILLY NILLY. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Monday.