Title: ROUGH PATCHES
Constructor: Erik Agard
Editor: Erik Agard
BROUGHT HOME (23A: Made totally clear)
LOVE DROUGHT (54A: Beyonce song with the lyric "You and me could make it rain now")
THROUGHOUT (4D: The whole time)
THOROUGHLY (31D: Without missing anything)
Theme synopsis: This puzzle has four ROUGH PATCHES in the sense that each theme answer contains the word ROUGH.
Things I learned:
- OPERA (16A: Adrian Angelico performance) Mezzo-soprano Adrian Angelico is a Norwegian OPERA singer. He made his debut at London's Royal Opera House in 2014. In this BBC video clip, Adrian Angelico discusses his decision to come out as a trans man, and how the OPERA helped him recognize his identity. OPERA has traditionally had a fluid approach to gender roles. Here's an article highlighting LGBTQ+ OPERA stars, including Adrian Angelico.
- LONG (28A: Like some grapes) I must admit, LONG is not usually an adjective I associate with grapes. However, it turns out there is a particular variety of blue-black grapes, known as Moon Drop or Sweet Sapphire, that have a unique characteristic...they are LONG. I will have to seek these grapes out and try them.
- UHURU (63A: Swahili for "freedom") Relied on crossing answers here. Happy to learn this.
- NITA (67A: Protagonist in the "Young Wizards" books) The Young Wizards series of books is written by Diane Duane. The first book in the series, So You Want to be a Wizard, was published in 1983. The protagonists of the books are NITA and Kit, two young wizards up against an entity - the "Lone Power" - trying to destroy the universe. (As a side note, how cool is it that Diane Duane's first and last names differ by only one letter? Hmm, a crossword theme in the making?)
- DSW (71A: Shoe store chain) DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) is a chain of shoe stores owned by Designer Brands, Inc.
- SPELMAN (7D: "Oh, don't you wish" school) SPELMAN College in Atlanta, Georgia was founded in 1881, making it the oldest private HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) for women. I found this video of the "Oh, don't you wish," chant.
- HEROINE (26D: Da'Naisha in "My Monticello," for example) My Monticello is an historical fiction novella, and the 2021 debut of author Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. The narrator and HEROINE of the story, Da'Naisha Hemings Love, is a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. In the near-future setting of the story, Da'Naisha is leading a group of refugees to Monticello for shelter following an ecological disaster. My Monticello is being adapted into a Netflix movie.
- LORI (46D: "Pahua and the Soul Stealer" author Lee) Pahua and the Soul Stealer by LORI M. Lee, is a book about a Hmong girl that discovers she's a powerful Shaman warrior. The book was published as part of a series of books - Rick Riordan Presents - that utilize mythology of various cultures.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- WHAT (1A: "Say that again?") and WHO (1D: "Say that name again?") This "questionable" pair was so fun to see in the top corner of the grid.
- LAS (6A: Dia de ___ Madres) Dia de LAS Madres, or Mother's Day, is celebrated in Mexico on May 10 each year. I have previously written about this holiday.
- PRAY (15A: Perform the Tahajjud, for example) The Tahajjud, also known as the "night prayer" is a prayer performed by Muslims. The Tahajjud is not one of the five obligatory prayers of Islam, but many Muslims PRAY the Tahajjud in the evening after Isha, the obligatory nightly prayer.
- GROOT (35A: Treelike Marvel character) The tree-like Marvel Comics character, GROOT, first appeared in the comic Tales to Astonish #13 in 1960.
- I'LL (45A: "___ Never Fall in Love Again") The song, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for a 1968 musical titled Promises, Promises. Dionne Warwick released her version of the song in 1969.
- LOVE DROUGHT (54A: Beyonce song with the lyric "You and me could make it rain now") "LOVE DROUGHT" is from Beyoncé's 2016 album, Lemonade.
- LEI (5D: Garland with a wili style) "Wili" means "to wind," and is a style of LEI making involving wrapping flowers and foliage around twine, raffia, string, or floral wire.
- SIMONE (48D: Gymnastics great Biles) Always happy to see a reference to SIMONE Biles in a puzzle. She recently shared some personal news.
- ERIE (18A: Great Lake near the 216) Referring to the city's area code, "the 216" is one of the nicknames of Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland is located on the southern shore of Lake ERIE. Our crossword friend ERIE is making its fourth appearance of the month.
- KONG (40D: Hong ___) Since 1997, Hong KONG has been a special administrative region of China.
- UAE (64D: Abu Dhabi's country) Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
YEAH, I'm not usually a fan of ROUGH PATCHES, but as a crossword theme these particular ROUGH PATCHES did not make me say UGH at all. It's been a bit since we've seen the theme answers split with two across and two down answers. I like the visual of the four theme answers (two intersecting pairs) forming a square. In the center of that square we have an appropriately placed SOS (37A: Letters of distress). Never fear, though, also in that square, and crossing SOS, we have a HEROINE ready to THOROUGHLY help us THROUGHOUT our ROUGH PATCHES. (Perhaps this ILL WILL was BROUGHT HOME by a LOVE DROUGHT?) In spite of its theme, this puzzle was a smooth and enjoyable way to start my Thursday.