November 9, 2021


Constructor: Rafael Musa

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
I HAD A BLAST (3D: "That was fun!")
IN AGREEMENT (7D: On the same page)
INCOME BRACKET (17D: Tax rate determinant)
IVORY COAST (29D: Country where Kedjenou is eaten)

Theme synopsis: Each vertical (DOWN) theme answer is BREAKING the word IT, with the I- appearing at the beginning of the phrase, and the -T at the end.

Things I learned:
  • O'NEAL (21A: Ron who played Whitley' dad on "A Different World") Earlier this year I learned about Jasmine Guy, who played Whitley Gilbert-Wayne on the TV series, A Different World. Ron O'Neal appeared on the show as Whitley's father, Mercer Gilbert.
  • TRAN (37A: Actress Karrueche) From 2014-2017, Karrueche TRAN played the role of Vivian Johnson on the TV series, The Bay. She currently plays the role of Virginia Loc on Claws, a TV series about five manicurists. 
  • RENE (56D: "Batouala" author Maran) In 1921, RENÉ Maran won the French literature prize, the Prix Goncourt, for his novel, Batouala, making him the first Black writer to win that award. Batouala is the story of an African chieftain and life in an African village. On November 5, 2019, Google celebrated RENÉ Maran's 132nd birthday with a Google Doodle.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • FEASTING (28A: Celebrating Eid) EID al-Fitr is a Muslim holiday marking the end of the observance of Ramadan. The end of month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting is celebrated by FEASTING.
  • ONE (40A: Two Girls ___ Crossword" (podcast)) Two Girls ONE Crossword is a podcast by Chelsea Rowan and Grace Topinka. Each week Chelsea and Grace solve a number of crosswords, and then they each choose a topic inspired by a crossword clue or answer and do a deep dive into that subject, sharing the information they learned. I admit I'm a bit (okay a lot!) behind on my podcast listening, but I always enjoy listening to Two Girls ONE Crossword. The podcast is a bit like this never quite know what paths will be followed and what topics will be discussed! You can find Two Girls One Crossword on Twitter at The Good Evening Girls. (I have recommended this podcast before, so if you didn't check it out then, here's a second chance.)
  • E-BIKE (42A: It has two wheels and a battery) Nice to see an E-BIKE in the puzzle. I've previously written about how much I enjoy my E-BIKE. 
  • AIR (63A: "Salt ___, and the rust on your door" (Taylor Swift lyric)) This lyric is the opening line of the Taylor Swift song, "august," from the 2020 album, Folklore. This clue was a nice way to add some interest to the answer of AIR.
  • GLEN (31D: Writer Weldon) GLEN Weldon is a writer and podcaster. He writes for NPR's Arts Desk, and hosts the Pop Culture Happy Hour.
  • MASA (53D: Dough for tamales) MASA is a maize dough used for making corn tortillas, tamales, pupusas, and gorditas.

    Geography review:
    • ETNA (14A: Italian volcano) The active volcano, Mount ETNA, is located on the Italian island of Sicily. ETNA is one of 16 volcanoes designated by the United Nations as Decade Volcanoes. This is a group of volcanoes deemed worthy of particular study because of their history of eruptions and proximity to densely populated areas. In 1992, the Decade Volcano program worked to divert Mount ETNA's lava flow that was threatening the town of Zafferana. Scientists were successful in damming the lava flow by dropping large concrete blocks into the volcano.
    • IVORY COAST (29D: Country where Kedjenou is eaten) The IVORY COAST (Côte d'Ivoire) is a country on the south coast of West Africa. Kedjenou is a spicy, slow-cooked stew of chicken and vegetables that is a traditional dish of IVORY COAST cuisine.
    • EURO (42D: Coin in Lisbon or Leipzig) Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal. Leipzig is the most populous city in the German state of Saxony. As European cities, both Lisbon and Leipzig use EURO as their currency.
    This puzzle is BREAKING IT DOWN...literally. My favorite theme answer, appropriately, is I HAD A BLAST. Are we IN AGREEMENT about this? In NO WAY did I find this puzzle MEDIOCRE, nor did I NOD OFF while solving it, though I did enjoy those answers, along with INTANGIBLE. This puzzle is asymmetrical, allowing the center two theme answers to be unmatched in length. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Tuesday.