December 4, 2021


Constructors: Brooke Husic & Amanda Rafkin

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
IVORY TOWER (3D: Metaphor for academia)
INSIDER TRADING (5D: Crime in the show "Billions")
IDENTICAL TWINS (14D: Siblings with the same DNA)
INNER TUBES (29D: Inflatables for lazy rivers)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer consists of a word beginning with I- followed by a word beginning with T-. Since the theme answers are vertical, the ITS are GOING DOWN.

And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke & Amanda: Last we checked in with our romantic saga we were schlepping home ... and now, unfortunately, it's going down. At least we got to make this great grid about it! Our fave answers are TEPPANYAKI and IT'S YOU!, our fave clues are 5A and 1D, and we hope you read the 55D clue as a revealer of sorts. :)

Things I learned:
  • ISLE (5A: The ___ of Cats (board game involving a boat rescue)) Unless this is your first visit to
    the blog (and if it is, welcome!) you've likely picked up on the fact that I like cats. I also adore board games. Therefore, I'm astounded that I wasn't familiar with The ISLE of Cats. I'm currently in Chicago visiting my daughter, and her cat, Toby, who helped me write the blog this morning, simply could not believe it either. (Doesn't Toby look dapper in his bow tie?!) From this review, and this slightly more in-depth review, I'm predicting a board game purchase in my future.
  • SIS (20A: Softball star Bates) Nicole "SIS" Bates is a member of the U.S. National Softball team. In college she played for the Washington Huskies, helping the team make it to the Women's College World Series three times, from 2017-2019.
  • AMY (46A: Poet Lowell) AMY Lowell was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926 for her collection of poems titled What's O'Clock. According to Poetry Foundation, AMY Lowell reportedly said, "God made me a business woman, and I made myself a poet." 
  • HBO (35D: "In Treatment" channel) In Treatment is an HBO TV series about a psychotherapist - Paul Weston played by Gabriel Byrne. Each show focuses on one of Paul's patients, as well as Paul's sessions with his therapist - Gina Toll played by Dianne Wiest.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TEPPANYAKI (57A: Flat-griddle cooking style) TEPPANYAKI is a style of Japanese cooking that uses iron griddles to prepare the food. The name derives from the words "teppan," the term for the iron griddles, and "yaki," meaning grilled, broiled, or pan-fried.
  • INSIDER TRADING (5D: Crime in the show "Billions") Billions is a TV series that focuses on hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (played by Damian Lewis), who uses INSIDER TRADING and bribery to grow his company. I liked the added interest of this clue using the TV show example instead of giving a definition of INSIDER TRADING.
  • ARIE (9D: R&B singer India.___) Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter India.ARIE is (according to her Twitter bio) "on a mission to spread love healing peace and joy through words and music." I like that.
  • ASL (11D: Language with a Philly accent) Just like spoken language, American Sign Language (ASL) varies depending on where it's being spoken. In some parts of the country, different signs are used for various words. This Smithsonian article discusses the Philly ASL accent.
  • LAS (23D: ___ Estrellas (Televisa network)) LAS Estrellas (meaning "The Stars") is one of the networks of the Mexican multimedia company, Televisa.
  • PUMA (37D: Big cat) A PUMA is also known as a cougar, a mountain lion, a panther, or a catamount. A cat of many names!

    Geography review:
    • BLEU (40A: Leftmost color on the French flag, in French) France's flag features three vertical bands of color (from left to right): blue, white, and red. En fran├žais: BLEU, blanc, et rouge.
    • MIAMI (53A: City in Florida) MIAMI is located in southeastern Florida, with coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The Port of MIAMI (PortMIAMI) calls itself the "Cruise Capital of the World."
    • NOLA (32D: Southern Decadence city, for short) Southern Decadence is an annual six-day event in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). The event, organized by the NOLA LGBTQ+ community features a parade through the French Quarter on the Sunday before Labor Day. Begun in 1972, the yearly festival was canceled in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina, and the latter part of the event was canceled in 2008 due to Hurricane Gustav. In 2020 and 2021, Southern Decadence was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the event's website indicates dates for 2022 are September 1 through September 5.
    • TEL (57D: ___ Aviv) TEL Aviv, Israel has been called "The World's Vegan Food Capital." The city has the highest per capita population of vegans in the world. 
    An initial theme today with nice solid theme answers, of which IDENTICAL TWINS was my favorite. Lots of fun fill in the grid as well: HOME GYM, IT'S YOU, AT PEACE, and TEPPANYAKI. And, of course, the enjoyable cluing I've come to expect from Brooke and Amanda collaborations. Shoutout to SPINS (1D: Shows off a twirly dress) and STOOD STILL (17A: Acted frozen in freeze tag). OK, OK! This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Saturday.