November 3, 2021


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LADY BUNNY (18A: Drag queen who founded Wigstock)
LAYERS OF IRONY (27A: What something sincere might be cloaked in)
LADDER COMPANY (47A: Fire department unit)
LAST PENNY (60A: Bottom of the barrel, money wise)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer symbolically travels COAST TO COAST as it begins with LA- (Los Angeles) and ends with -NY (New York).

Things I learned:
  • GODS (6A: Ogun and Osun, for example) Ogun and Osun are GODS in the Yoruba religion. I learned about the African religion of Yoruba from the July 11, 2020 puzzle. Ogun and Osun are orisha - spirits sent for the guidance of creation. Ogun is a spirit of metal work known as the "god of iron." Osun is the goddess of divinity, fertility, and love.
  • LADY BUNNY (18A: Drag queen who founded Wigstock) Wigstock is an outdoor end-of the-summer drag festival in Manhattan's East Village. Drag queen LADY BUNNY founded Wigstock in  1984. After the 2005 festival, Wigstock took a break until a 2018 revival
  • ELI (32A: Olympic fencer Dershwitz) ELI Dershwitz represented Team USA in saber fencing at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics.
  • CIA (36A: Spy org. that trained Dan Freeman) Dan Freeman is the fictional protagonist in the 1969 book by Sam Greenlee, The Spook Who Sat by the Door. In the book, Dan Freeman is the first Black CIA officer. The 1973 movie of the same name was based on the book.
  • ELIZA (66A: "Bring It On" actress Dushku) ELIZA Dushku played the role of Missy Pantone in the  2000 teen cheerleading movie, Bring It On.
  • LAND TAX (43D: Shuumi payment) The Sogorea Te Land Trust was founded in 2012. Its goal is to return San Francisco Bay Area lands to indigenous stewardship. "Shuumi" means gift in Ohlone languages. The Segorea Te Land Trust invites non-indigenous people to pay a Shuumi LAND TAX to support their work. Although the LAND TAX has no legal ramifications, the term is used as opposed to "donation" as a reminder that taxpayers are on indigenous land.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LAYERS OF IRONY (27A: What something sincere might be cloaked in) It took most of the crossing answers for me to piece together LAYERS OF IRONY. The idea just wasn't clicking. LAYERS OF IRONY is a concept sometimes seen with memes. Using this example, one way to think about LAYERS OF IRONY is the appearance of an ironic meme about a sincere idea. Then a meme is made about the ironic meme. Then a meme is made about that meme, etc. until you have multiple LAYERS OF IRONY. I'm not sure I've done a good job explaining LAYERS OF IRONY, but here's an article that might explain it better. 
  • AMBER (31A: Late night host Ruffin) AMBER Ruffin hosts the late-night talk show, The AMBER Ruffin Show. She has also co-written a book with her sister that was released in January of this year, You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism.
  • ANT (56A: Insect with elbow-shaped antennae) The elbow-shaped antennae of an ANT allows it to smell, feel, and touch things that are both in front of and behind its head.
  • DID (8D: "Where ___ Our Love Go") The Supremes recorded "Where DID Our Love Go" in 1964.
  • BOLO (19D: Official state tie of New Mexico) On July 25, 2020, I blogged about New Mexico making the BOLO its official state tie. And no, I don't expect you to remember that! The BOLO, or string tie, is also the state tie of Texas and Arizona.
  • DOMO (40D: "___ arigato" (Japanese for "thank you very much")) Please tell me I'm not the only one who knows the phrase "DOMO arigato" from the 1982 Styx song, "Mr. Roboto."
  • CANYON (49D: Zion National Park sight) Zion National Park in southwestern Utah is one of the National Parks I have been to that my husband has not. It was 43 years ago that I visited the park and saw Zion CANYON, with its reddish sandstone walls. Hopefully next year my husband and I will make it to Zion National Park together.
  • NED (62D: ___ Fulmer, one of the Try Guys) In March of this year, I learned that The Try Guys is an online comedy series featuring NED Fulmer, Eugene Lee Yang, Keith Habersberger, and Zach Kornfield. As the name suggests, the show features the guys trying different things. Episodes include getting photoshopped into ideal body types, trying K-pop dance moves, eating everything at Burger King, and much more.

    Geography review:
    • NOLA (2D: The Big Easy) One nickname of New Orleans, Louisiana is NOLA; another is "The Big Easy." NOLA, of course, is derived from the initials of New Orleans and the abbreviation for Louisiana. The definitive origin of "The Big Easy" nickname is unknown. Some think it is a comparison to New York City's nickname of "The Big Apple," suggesting life in New Orleans is more laid-back than in New York City. Others have suggested "The Big Easy" is a reference to how easy it was for musicians to find work in the city in the early twentieth century.
    • ERIE (26D: Lake bordering Ohio) In addition to bordering Ohio, Lake ERIE borders Ontario, Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York.
    • OMAN (34D: Only country that starts with O) The answer to the question, "How many countries are there in the world?" varies depending on who you ask. Still, it's amazing to me that of the 193, 197, 215, or some other number of countries, the Western Asia country of OMAN is the only one that starts with the letter O. 
    Today you can travel from COAST TO COAST while solving a puzzle. Only one of today's theme answers (LAST PENNY) was familiar to me. LADDER COMPANY makes sense to me, but I'm not sure I've heard the term before. It's nice that the puzzle was encouraging, telling me, "YOU CAN DO IT!" I noticed that there were a lot of different sports mentioned today - a little something for everyone with cluing references to boxing, football, cricket, baseball, and fencing. This puzzle features rotational symmetry, and is the first symmetrical puzzle we've seen by Zhouqin Burnikel for several weeks. This puzzle was a good way to begin my Wednesday.