December 2, 2021


Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
WALK ON BY (16A: Pass without saying hi)
DÉJÀ VU (18A: Feeling that's French for "already seen")
HEARTBREAKER (23A: Overtime loss in the playoffs, for example)
THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR (35A: With 38-Across, "You know I got you!") and (38A: See 35-Across)
DIONNE WARWICK (52A: Singer with song titles at 16-, 18-, 23- and 35-/38-Across)


Things I learned:
  • ALI (12A: Artist Abdu) Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Abdu ALI is a multidisciplinary musician, activist, poet, and artist. Baltimore magazine describes ALI's music as "an idiosyncratic amalgam of futuristic punk-rap poetry that packs a powerful message about oppression and identity." ALI's debut studio album, FIYAH!! was released in 2019.
  • KEN (58D: Actor Ryan ___) Even if you, like me, were not familiar with the name Ryan KEN, it's possible you have seen some of their videos on social media. During the pandemic, Ryan KEN began creating TikTok videos, many of which have gone viral. I found several interesting articles about Ryan KEN, including this GQ interview that talks about Beyoncé's mom sharing one of their videos on Instagram, this Shondaland interview in which they talk about acting happening by accident, and this HuffPost article that contains the quote, "You never truly play somebody else. You play yourself under different circumstances."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • WALK ON BY (16A: Pass without saying hi) DIONNE WARWICK recorded "WALK ON BY" in 1963. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Isaac Hayes (1969), Cyndi Lauper (2003), and Seal (2005).
  • DÉJÀ VU (18A: Feeling that's French for "already seen") DIONNE WARWICK's 1979 song, "DÉJÀ VU" was written by Isaac Hayes and Adrienne Anderson. 
  • HEARTBREAKER (23A: Overtime loss in the playoffs, for example) "HEARTBREAKER" was recorded by DIONNE WARWICK in 1982. The song was written by Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.
  • CHO (34A: "Cowboy Bebop" star John) John CHO plays the role of Spike Spiegel (aka "Fearless") on the 2021 live action TV series, Cowboy Bebop, that is based on the Japanese anime series of the same name. I learned about Cowboy Bebop from the October 25 puzzle
  • THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR (35A: With 38-Across, "You know I got you!") and (38A: See 35-Across) "THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR" was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. It was first recorded by Rod Stewart for the movie Night Shift, but the version recorded in 1985 by DIONNE WARWICK, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder is better known. The 1985 version was billed as "DIONNE & Friends," and was released as a charity single. The song won two Grammy awards and raised over $3 million dollars for AIDS research and prevention
  • DIONNE WARWICK (52A: Singer with song titles at 16-, 18-, 23- and 35-/38-Across) DIONNE WARWICK has had 80 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Her birthday is this month; she'll turn 81 on December 12. Recently she's turned her talents to social media. If you are on Twitter at all, you've likely seen some of DIONNE WARWICK's tweets. Her niece has coached her on using social media, and she has been called the "Queen of Twitter."
  • RAJ (8D: Name meaning "king") and REY (41D: Spanish for "king") A nice pair of kingly clues.
  • KERRY (17D: Washington who played Olivia Pope) KERRY Washington played the role of Olivia Pope on the TV series, Scandal
  • BELTED (24D: Sang at top volume) A perfect addition to this tribute puzzle.
  • SAWM (36D: One of the Five Pillars of Islam) The Five Pillars of Islam are Shahada, Salah, SAWM, Zakat, and Hajj. SAWM is fasting, usually from food, drink, smoking, and sexual activity. 
  • RAPTORS (39D: NBA team with a dinosaur mascot) The Toronto RAPTORS are an NBA team based in Toronto, Canada. Their mascot is a red, featherless Velociraptor.
  • ITS (56D: The I in FWIW) For what IT'S worth, FWIW = for what IT'S worth.

    Geography review:
    • ORLANDO (42A: City in 38-Down) and FLORIDA (38D: The Sunshine State) ORLANDO is the county seat of Orange County in central FLORIDA. ORLANDO is nicknamed "the City Beautiful," and is one of the most-visited cities in the world. Although FLORIDA is nicknamed "The Sunshine State," it isn't always sunny in the state. Central FLORIDA experiences more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the U.S., earning it the nickname of "lightning capital of the U.S."
    I thoroughly enjoyed this tribute puzzle to DIONNE WARWICK! It was fun to see the song titles given straight clues. I figured out what was happening as soon as I filled in WALK ON BY for [Pass without saying hi]. My favorite clue was ["You know I got you!"] I appreciate that the songs appear in chronological order in the puzzle. I don't know if that's intentional, or a happy coincidence, but it's elegant. For me, this puzzle highlights an advantage to being open to using asymmetrical grids. The theme answers here are 8-, 6-, 12-, 9-/13-, and 13- answers long; a set that might be impossible to accomplish in a symmetrical grid, particularly maintaining the theme order. I will probably be singing DIONNE WARWICK songs all day, and that's not a bad thing. This delightful puzzle was a perfect way to begin my Thursday.


    1. Very clever but exciting. I only missed two clues but was totally stumped on the theme.


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