January 27, 2022


Constructor: Malaika Handa

Editors: Mollie Cowger & Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SEMINOLE NATION (15A: Tribe whose capital is Wewoka)
HEMINGWAY (35A: "Hills Like White Elephants" author Ernest)
DEMI ADEJUYIGBE (61A: Comedian known for September 21 videos)

Theme synopsis: The FIRST part of each theme answer is a prefix used to mean HALF: SEMI-, HEMI-, DEMI-.

Things I learned:
  • ROY (47A "Succession" surname) Succession is a TV series that focuses on the ROY family, the owners of a global media and entertainment conglomerate, Waystar ROYCo.
  • HONEYDEW (8D: Melon that flavors some soju) Soju is a distilled alcoholic beverage that originated in Korea. Most brands of the clear, colorless beverage are made in South Korea. Soju is traditionally made from rice, wheat, or barley, and may be flavored with HONEYDEW melon.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ARIA (12A: "Pretty Little Liars" character) Pretty Little Liars is a TV series loosely based on Sara Shepard's novel series of the same name. ARIA (played by Lucy Hale) is one of four high school friends that drift apart after the leader of their group disappears. The four are reunited when they begin receiving anonymous messages. I first learned of Pretty Little Liars from a puzzle from July 2020.
  • OREO (13A: Cookie eaten with peanut butter in "The Parent Trap") The 1998 movie, The Parent Trap (a remake of the 1961 movie of the same name), featured Lindsay Lohan as identical twins, Hallie and Annie, who were separated at birth when their parents divorced, and are reunited at summer camp. In one memorable scene, the twins bond over their love of eating OREOs with peanut butter. Nancy Meyers, who co-wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, has explained that she wrote the scene simply because she thought the combination of OREOs and peanut butter sounded quirky. This was a fun clue for our crossword-friend OREO.
  • ICE (18A: Halo-halo ingredient) The unofficial national dessert of the Philippines, halo-halo is made from crushed ICE and evaporated milk, with various other ingredients.
  • YUPPIE (25A: Word that comes from "young urban professional") Wow, this clue was a blast from the past. The term YUPPIE was coined in the early 1980s, when I was in college. I have not heard the word YUPPIE in years, but according to Wikipedia, the term experienced a resurgence in the 2000s and 2010s. 
  • NANCY (31A: With 32-Across, teen detective in hundreds of books) and DREW (32A: See 31-Across) NANCY DREW first appeared in the 1930 book, The Secret of the Old Clock. A number of authors have written about NANCY DREW under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. The original NANCY DREW series contains 175 books, but the character also appears in 12 other series, meaning NANCY DREW has appeared in over 600 books so far. Fun to see NANCY DREW in the puzzle; I credit her with my love of mystery novels.
  • HEMINGWAY (35A: "Hills Like White Elephants" author Ernest) "Hills Like White Elephants" is a 1927 short story by Ernest HEMINGWAY, which you can read here. The story describes a conversation between a man and a woman in a Spanish train station. In the course of their conversation, the woman says of the hills in the distance, "They look like white elephants."
  • TESSA (43A: ___ Violet (singer previously known as Meekakitty)) TESSA Violet began her career as a video blogger, with the username, Meekakitty. Over time, content of her videos shifted to focus mostly on original music, and she transitioned to a singing career. In 2013, she began posting using her real name. I learned about TESSA Violet from the November 15, 2021 puzzle
  • ESL (53A: Classes hidden in "takes lessons") This is a fun hidden word (or hidden abbreviation, I suppose) clue.
  • BED (60A: Dorm room fixture) and DESK (57A: Classroom fixture) I liked this pair of clues, and it made me think about repeated wording in clues. Although the answers of BED and DESK aren't necessarily related, the repetition of the word "fixture" links them together. I find repetition of words in clues seems to make the puzzle feel cohesive. It's not necessary, of course, but I always find it to be a nice touch.
  • DEMI ADEJUYIGBE (61A: Comedian known for September 21 videos) DEMI ADIJUYIGBE is a comedian and social media personality. He is the co-host of the podcast, The Gilmore Guys. He is perhaps best known for posting creative videos on September 21 each year from 2016-2021. The videos are fun takes on the  Earth, Wind & Fire song, "September," and the last couple of years, DEMI ADEJUYIGBE has used the videos to raise money for various causes. When I read this clue, I thought, "Oh, I know that. I've written about that before." However, it turns out I have not written about DEMI ADEJUYIGBE before. I did know about the videos, however. I learned about them last year - on September 21, of course - and enjoyed learning about the past videos. I must have dreamt I wrote about them. Nonetheless, it was fun to see DEMI ADEJUYIGBE in the puzzle!
  • FREEGAN (2D: Anti-consumerist who seeks alternatives to purchasing items) The word FREEGAN is a combination of the words "free" and "vegan." FREEGANs try to limit their participation in the conventional economy. Freeganism is often associated with dumpster diving, or urban foraging. The website FREEGAN.info has a lot of information about the philosophy and application of a FREEGAN lifestyle.
  • SAIL (4D: Take a dhow ride) The word dhow can refer to a number of types of SAILboats.
  • IRL (6D: Like some Reddit meetups (Abbr.)) IRL = in real life.
  • APU (17D: Satyajit Ray protagonist) The APU Trilogy is a series of award-winning Indian Bengali language films: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of APU. The movies were directed by Satyajit Ray. I first learned about The APU Trilogy from the July 8, 2020 puzzle (which featured this same clue).
  • ORG (29D: www.wikipedia.___) Shoutout to Wikipedia, which I use every single day as I write this blog! I try to use the site as a starting point to search for additional references and articles (and I try to keep in mind its limitations). I am always grateful for the amazing amount of information contained on the site and the efforts of many people that go into maintaining it.
  • SILK (59D: ___ press (sleek hairstyle)) A SILK press is a hairstyling technique that straightens hair using a blow-dryer and a flat iron. 
  • JEW (62D: Purim celebrant) I have previously written about Purim.

    Geography review:

    • SEMINOLE NATION (15A: Tribe whose capital is Wewoka) As the clue informs us, Wewoka, Oklahoma is the capital of the SEMINOLE NATION. Wewoka is also the site of the SEMINOLE NATION Museum, which opened in 1974. 
    I enjoyed this entire puzzle, not just the FIRST HALF. Three fantastic theme answers here, anchoring a grid filled with lively answers. In addition to those I've highlighted above, I liked MASCARA, CHIA PET, ARCADES, STUBBLE, SIDE EYE, MESSED UP, and STATIC. Fun cluing throughout, too, such as NERD (16D: Theater ___ (someone who knows all the words to "Hamilton," maybe)). I'M A huge fan of this puzzle, and it was a delightful way to start my Thursday.