January 23, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
GO ON DISPLAY (3D: Be shown to the public)
GROUP ODEATH (16D: Tough draw at a soccer tournament)
GOOD OLD DAYS (23D: Time period that inspires nostalgia)

Theme synopsis: Each vertical theme answer is a phrase with three words that begin with the letters GOD.

Things I learned:
  • EYES (4D: "Dorothy Dandridge ___" (Janelle Monae song)) Janelle Monae's song, "Dorothy Dandridge EYES," is from the 2013 album, The Electric Lady. The song features singer and bassist, Esperanza Spalding. Dorothy Dandridge was a singer and actress. She played the title role in the 1954 movie, Carmen Jones, which earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination, making her the first Black film star to be nominated for an Academy Award. The Electric Lady's liner notes credit the song's inspiration as the sequence in Carmen Jones, when a jeep containing Carmen and Joe (Harry Belafonte) ends up in a river.
  • GROUP OF DEATH (16D: Tough draw at a soccer tournament) This was a new sports term to me; once again, crosswords are teaching me about sports. The term GROUP OF DEATH is used in multi-stage tournaments to describe an initial grouping perceived to contain particularly strong teams, specifically, more strong contenders than the number of qualifying spots to move on in the tournament. The term ("grupo de la muerte") was coined by Mexican journalists in reference to a group of the FIFA World Cup. The group contained the reigning champions (England), as well as the team that would go on to win the tournament (Brazil), and both runners-up (Czechoslovakia and Romania).
  • OPERA (33D: Joyce DiDonato production) Joyce DiDonato has won four Grammy Awards for Classic Vocal Performances, and in 2018 she won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in OPERA. 
  • SWAM (56D: Competed like Regan Smith) Regan Smith SWAM for Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021), winning two silver medals (200-meter butterfly and 4x100-meter medley relay) and a bronze medal (100-meter backstroke).
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • BOOYAH (13A: "In your face!") It took quite a few letters revealed by crossing answers for BOOYAH to reveal itself to me. This made me wonder if I have ever used the exclamation, "BOOYAH!" I don't think so. I've certainly heard it used, though, just not recently.
  • TIGER (22A: Chinese zodiac animal of 2022) and LANTERN (29D: ___ Festival (final day of the Chinese New Year)) The Chinese New Year is a festival celebrating the beginning of the new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. The Chinese zodiac, based on the lunisolar calendar, assigns an animal to each year. The Year of the TIGER will begin February 1, 2022, and last through January 21, 2023. The LANTERN Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Chinese New Year, February 15 this year. 
  • APPS (37A: Calm and Headspace, e.g.) Calm and Headspace are APPS featuring meditation tools.
  • EBONY (38A: Wood in old piano keys) I initially put "ivory" here, which, of course, isn't a wood. EBONY, however, is a wood. EBONY is a dense hardwood that is black or dark brown in color. It has been used to make the black keys of pianos, organs, and harpsichords.
  • EDIE (40A: "Luster" protagonist) Raven Leilani's debut novel, Luster, published in 2020, is the story of twenty-something EDIE, a Black woman who begins a relationship with a forty-something white man in an open marriage. I learned about EDIE from the October 7, 2020 puzzle. 
  • SKY (12D: 2021 WNBA champions) WNBA's Chicago SKY won their first championship in 2021, defeating the Phoenix Mercury in the championship game. The team was founded in 2006.
  • ROE (21D: Eggs in a chirashi bowl) The word "chirashi" means "scattered" in Japanese. A chirashi bowl is a dish featuring the elements commonly used in sushi, served in a bowl - sushi rice topped with ingredients such as raw fish, nori, vegetables, and ROE.
  • HERBS (48D: Rosemary and shiso, for two) Rosemary is an HERB with needle-like leaves. It grows as an evergreen shrub. Shiso is an HERB in the mint family.

    Geography review:

    • RENO (21A: Nevada city with over 20 casinos) Located in western Nevada, near Lake Tahoe and the Nevada-California border, RENO is known for its casino and tourism industry. RENO's 20+ casinos is just a fraction of Nevada's total number of casinos, which is over 460.
    • LIBYAN (66A: Many a University of Tripoli student) Tripoli is the capital and largest city of Libya.  The University of Tripoli was originally founded as a branch of the University of Libya. In 1973, the University of Libya split into two separate universities: the University of Tripoli and the University of Benghazi.
    • ABABA (1D: Addis ___, Ethiopia) Addis ABABA is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. In Amharic - one of five official languages of Ethiopia - "Addis ABABA" means "new flower."
    • ENG (19D: Official language of Ghana) Ghana is a country in Western Africa. Its southern border is along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ghana's neighbors are the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Accra is the capital and largest city of Ghana. As the clue tells us, ENGlish is the official language of Ghana; there are 10 other recognized national languages.
    It didn't take me long to notice the letters of the word GOD appearing at the beginnings of the words in the theme answers. The RAIN part of the title is less obvious to me. I'm guessing it's a reference to the fact that the letters G-O-D are falling in each theme answer, like RAIN. The theme answers also drop, as you move from left to right through the puzzle. My favorite theme answer was definitely GOOD OLD DAYS. I liked the answers GET ANTSY, and BLURT OUT. This puzzle was a PERFECT start to my Sunday.