December 28, 2021

Title: SNAPCHAT    

Constructor: Amanda Rafkin

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
CAN'T TOP THAT (17A: "You've got me beat!)
CHANGE OF HEART (35A: Attitude reversal)
CHESHIRE CAT (54A: "Alice in Wonderland" character who vanishes and reappears)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is contained within the word CHAT.

Things I learned:
  • ELI (24A: Actor Goree) ELI Goree played the role of Cassius Clay in the 2020 movie, One Night in Miami (which I have previously written about). In the third and fourth seasons of the TV show, Riverdale, he played the recurring role of Munroe "Mad Dog" Moore.
  • UKE (58A: Eddie Kamae's instrument, for short) Eddie Kamae was one of the founding members of Sons of Hawaii, a musical group that played traditional Hawaiian music in the 1960s to 1990s. Eddie Kamae was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in 2001. He died in 2017 at the age of 89.
  • BOY (13D: "A ___ Named Isamu") Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese-American artist and landscape artist, known for his sculpture and public artworks. In the children's book, A BOY Named Isamu, writer and illustrator James Yang imagines the artist's childhood. I'm always happy to discover new children's books. This one definitely looks worth checking out.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SUSAN (1A: Egan who originated the role of Belle on Broadway) I learned this fact about SUSAN Egan while researching her for the May 7, 2021 puzzle write-up. (That puzzle was also constructed by Amanda Rafkin.) SUSAN Egan also voiced the role of Meg in the 1997 animated movie, Hercules.
  • ANIME (14A: "Cowboy Bebop," e.g.) I just learned about the ANIME TV series, Cowboy Bebop in October. In addition to the original ANIME series, a live-action version of Cowboy Bebop premiered in November (but has been canceled after just one season).
  • RBG (20A: "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made" speaker's initials)
    Always happy to see Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the puzzle. I bought some stickers to put in my family's Christmas stockings this year, and bought myself a few, too, including one featuring RBG that is now on my laptop.
  • OREO (22A: Cookie that might be eaten creme-first) Crossword's favorite cookie makes another appearance. Just a single OREO today; we saw multiple OREOS yesterday.
  • TET (47A: Holiday during which Dong Ho paintings are displayed) TẾT is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. Đông Hô paintings are traditional woodcut paintings originating in the village of Đông Hô, Vietnam. The pictures are bought and displayed on TẾT, and feature cheery pictures in bright powerful colors such as red, yellow, and white.
  • DEAR (50A: "___ Evan Hansen") DEAR Evan Hansen won six Tony Awards in 2017, including Best Musical. A movie of the musical was released this year.
  • PAW (53A: Kitty's "hand") It's quite sweet when a kitty randomly reaches out and claims you with its PAW.
  • CHESHIRE CAT (54A: "Alice in Wonderland" character who vanishes and reappears) Two CAT clues in a row - Willow highly approves! Although the CHESHIRE CAT became popular from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it is also a character in one of my favorite series, The Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde.
  • NIA (9D: Actress Vardalos) NIA Vardalos wrote and starred in the 2002 movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the 2016 movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and the upcoming My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3
  • DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? (11D: 2000 film about two stoners looking for a lost vehicle) Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott starred in the movie, DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? The movie has a rating of 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. I appreciated that this clue provided enough information for solvers to be successful even if they hadn't previously heard of this movie. True story: One time when I was in college (long before this movie came out), my best friend, Bob, showed up at my apartment one morning and said, "I lost my car." He and I spent quite some time retracing his actions of the previous night to find his car, but our adventures were quite tame compared to those in DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?
  • CLAMBAKE (35D: "A Real Nice ___" ("Carousel" song about a seafood social)) Here's another clue that provides enough information to allow a solver to be successful, even if they are not familiar with all of the songs in the 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, Carousel
  • KERI (43D: Actress Russell) KERI Russell's multiple film and TV credits include playing the role of KGB intelligence officer, Elizabeth Jennings on the TV series, The Americans.

    Geography review:

    • LAS (25A: Article before Vegas) "LAS Vegas" is spanish for "the meadows." LAS Vegas, Nevada is primarily known for its entertainment and nightlife offerings, including its casinos.
    • TAHOE (47D: Lake on the California/Nevada border) Lake TAHOE is a freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
    It was a joy to see Amanda Rafkin's name as the constructor on today's puzzle. Although we've seen her name many times as editor, and a couple of times on collaborations recently, this is her first solo construction since June 5. And what a lovely puzzle it is! Three great theme answers that were all a delight to discover. The two grid-spanning down answers of SING IN THE SHOWER and DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? were a fabulous bonus. Amanda managed to fit in three musical references today - SUSAN Egan, DEAR Evan Hansen, and CLAMBAKE - and I always enjoy that. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Tuesday.