December 13, 2021


Constructors: Brandon & Brooke

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
POWER COUPLE (15A: Pair who might exemplify #relationshipgoals)
CHILD'S POSE (29A: Asana used for resting)
FAIR ENOUGH (39A: "I see your point")
DOUBLE MAJOR (57A: College degree with two specializations)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer can precede the word PLAY to create a new phrase. We have a POWER PLAY, CHILD'S PLAY, FAIR PLAY, and a DOUBLE PLAY.

And now a word from our constructors:
Brandon & Brooke: We're so excited that this puzzle is out in the world! We were happy to find the two long answers TIKTOK DUET and SORRY I'M OUT, and we like the foodie vibe with the symmetric PRETZELS + MOUSSAKA. Our favorite clues are for GO AWAY, MEDAL, LET (a bop), and MARS (also a bop).

Things I learned:
  • SAX (9A: Vi Redd's instrument) Elvira "Vi" Redd's instrument is the alto SAX. A jazz musician, she performed with Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie among others, and recorded two albums of her own, Bird Call (1962) and Lady Soul (1963). Here's a video of her performing "Stormy Monday Blues" with Count Basie. I found this article to be a worthwhile read. It talks about Vi Redd's career,  and also discusses the ways her accomplishments, as a Black female musician, were downplayed and how many female musicians have been invisible in accounts of jazz history.
  • UNCLIP (27A: Detach rope after a lead climbing route) When I first read this clue, I didn't parse it correctly. I incorrectly thought I needed a word for something called a "detach rope." Silly me. As letters for crossing answers revealed, "detach" means UNCLIP, of course, and the "rope" is what is being UNCLIPped. Interesting the way the mind works sometimes. I wasn't familiar with the term lead climbing. Lead climbing is a style of rock climbing in which the climber wears a harness attached to a rope, which is attached to protection points along the way. Another style of rock climbing is top-roping, in which a rope is attached to an anchor at the top of the climb.
  • MEDAL (49A: Prize for Timo Boll) Timo Boll is a professional table tennis player, and has at times been ranked as the number one player in the sport. At the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021), Timo Boll helped the German table tennis team win a silver MEDAL. He was also part of the bronze MEDAL-winning German team at the 2016 and 2012 Summer Olympics, and the silver MEDAL-winning German team at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
  • EDU (56A: www.bxscience.___) Although I guessed this answer correctly, assuming that this URL linked to an educational site, I wasn't sure where the link would take me. This link - www.bxscience.EDU - is for The Bronx High School of Science, a specialized high school in New York City. The high schools alumni include eight Nobel prize winners. Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson is also a Bronx Science alum.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ZELDA (23A: Princess whose alter ego is Sheik) Princess ZELDA is the title character in the Nintendo video game series, The Legend of ZELDA. In the game, The Legend of ZELDA: Ocarina of Time, ZELDA disguises herself as a character named Sheik.
  • CHILD'S POSE (29A: Asana used for resting) In CHILD'S POSE, a person is kneeling, then bends forward, bringing the forehead to the floor, and relaxing the arms at the side. I'm a fan of CHILD'S POSE, and really all resting yoga asanas. I also appreciated that this answer has the possessive form of CHILD, which is also used in the new phrase, CHILD'S PLAY.
  • MAN (33A: Unseen "Bambi" villain) Nothing came to mind when I first read the clue, but when I filled in the answer from crossing answers, I thought, "Ah, of course." In the 1942 Disney movie, Bambi, "MAN" is the name used by the animals to refer to the human hunters that kill Bambi's mother, and later start the forest fire.
  • PAID (51A: The P in PTO) PTO here stands for PAID time off. 
  • LET (63A: "___'s Groove" (Earth, Wind & Fire hit)) Earth, Wind & Fire released "LET's Groove" in 1981. 
  • MARS (65A: Fourth planet mentioned in "Interplanet Janet") As soon as I read this clue, I was singing, "Interplanet Janet, she's a galaxy girl...and there's never been a planet Janet hasn't seen." In the Schoolhouse Rock song, "Interplanet Janet," Janet starts at the Sun, and visits the planets in order: Mercury ("the mercury on Mercury was much too high"), Venus ("She couldn't see a thing for all the clouds around"), Earth ("But the creatures on that planet looked so very weird to Janet"), and then MARS ("MARS is red"). Janet continues on, even visiting Pluto ("little Pluto"), which was classified as a planet at the time the song was written.
  • PRETZELS (3D: Twists eaten with mustard or cheese) Mmm, PRETZELS. My husband and I
    recently spent a few days in Chicago visiting our daughter. We went to the Christkindl Market, and while we were there we got a large PRETZEL to share. After my daughter took this photo she said, "The PRETZEL is as big as your head!"
  • MAUNA (6D: Hawaiian for "mountain") Think of MAUNA Kea or MAUNA LOA, volcanoes on the island of Hawai'i.
  • AUNT (10D: Vivian Banks to the Fresh Prince) and MOM (59D: Vivian Banks, to Carlton Banks) A fun pair of clues referencing the TV series, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Janet Hubert played Vivian Banks in the first three seasons of the show, and Daphne Maxwell Reid played the role of the AUNT of the Fresh Prince and the MOM of Carlton for the last three seasons.
  • ON E (25D: Phrase aptly found in "hormone") If, like me, you first read this answer as ONE, and wondered what that had to do with the word "hormone," the key word in the clue is "phrase." The answer is read as ON E, a phrase referring to receiving the hormone, estrogen.
  • PRAY (31D: Observe Salah) Salah are prayers said by Muslims, and is the second pillar of the Five Pillars of Islam.
  • MOUSSAKA (37D: Greek eggplant casserole) Mmm, MOUSSAKA. This puzzle is making me hungry! MOUSSAKA is an eggplant- or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, that originated in Egypt, Greece, and the Middle East.
  • SABER (47D: Sword for a Jedi) That would be a non-red SABER, as the December 9 puzzle reminded us. 
  • TILDE (48D: Part of the 15th letter of the Spanish alphabet) That would be "ñ," featuring the mark (wavy line) known as a TILDE.
  • PUMA (51A: Mountain lion) It's another PUMA sighting! I commented the other day that we had seen PUMA mentioned three times this month - make that four.

    Geography review:

    • ANA (43D: Santa ___ Pueblo) Santa ANA Pueblo is located in New Mexico, where it is home to about 800 tribal members that speak the Keresan language. In Keresan, the Pueblo is named Tamaya.
    Well, this is a PLAYful and PLAY-full puzzle. A nice set of solid theme answers. In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I enjoyed SORRY I'M OUT and TIKTOK DUET. I also liked the PLAYful clue for GO AWAY (42A: Warning taped to a pillow fort.) Congratulations and welcome to Brandon making their USA Today debut today! This puzzle was a great way to begin my Monday.