February 19, 2022

Title: ADAPTATION

Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
METIS NATION (24A: Group with governments in Ontario and British Columbia)
TIMES CHANGE (50A: "That was then and this is now")
MENU ITEMS (11D: Options for ordering)
DUST MITES (31D: Some household allergens)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer features an ADAPTATION of the letter string E-I-M-S-T: METIS, TIMES, ITEMS, and MITES.

Things I learned:
  • METIS NATION (24A: Group with governments in Ontario and British Columbia) The MÉTIS arose as a distinct ethnic group in the mid-18th century, and are one of the three groups of Canadian Indigenous people mentioned in the Constitution of Canada (along with Indian and Inuit). As the clue informs us, MÉTIS NATION has governments in Ontario and British Columbia. The MÉTIS NATION also has governments in Manitoba and Ontario.
  • SOUPS (38A: Dishes like lablabi) Lablabi is a Tunisian SOUP or chick peas in a broth seasoned with garlic and cumin.
  • MAUI (58A: Trickster in Hawaiian myth) In Polynesian mythology, MĀUI is a trickster whose exploits and adventures include stealing fire from the underworld and giving it to humans to use, and fishing the Hawaiian islands up from the bottom of the ocean with his magic hook.
  • OWEN (64A: "Grey's" doctor Hunt) The "Grey's" here is the TV series Grey's Anatomy, on which the character of Dr. OWEN Hunt is played by Kevin McKidd. I definitely needed the help of crossing answers to figure out Dr. Hunt's first name. I knew this referred to a doctor on Grey's Anatomy, but I've never seen the show, only listened to it as my daughter streamed it in the adjacent room. (A funny thing is that I've recently looked at the names of doctors on Grey's Anatomy in the process of finding possible theme answers for a puzzle I was constructing.) Fortunately, with a couple of letters filled in, OWEN was inferable.
  • TNT (62D: "AEW Rampage" channel) AEW Rampage, also known as Friday Night Rampage, is a professional wrestling show on TNT. As I've mentioned before, I rarely know this type of clue that references a particular show's network. (The exception being Sesame Street on PBS!) That doesn't mean these types of clues aren't valid; it simply means I don't watch much TV.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SAMBAR (1A: Stew served with idli) SAMBAR is a lentil-based stew popular in Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisines, where it is served with idli, a savory rice cake.
  • TEAL (32A: Color named for a duck) The Eurasian TEAL, a type of duck, has distinctive coloring on its head, along its eyes. That color is TEAL, named for this duck.
  • DEMOS (41A: Marketing targets, for short) The DEMOS referred to here are demographics, not demonstrations.
  • INSTA (42A: App with Reels, for short) and DMS (54A: Messages on a 42-Across) In 2019, Instagram - INSTA, for short - added a video feature known as Reels, which allows users to record short video clips with sound clips from other posts. (This is similar to the videos produced on the app TikTok.) I have an INSTA account, but have never used the Reels feature, so didn't immediately get this answer.
  • TIMES CHANGE (50A: "That was then and this is now") This is a lovely theme answer! Not only does it fit the ADAPTATION theme, but it also serves as a revealer of sorts, describing what is happening in each of the theme answers. Also, the clue of "That was then and this is now" perfectly hinted at the answer.
  • RESPECT (6D: 1967 hit for the Queen of Soul) and PIANO (12D: Instrument played by the Queen of Soul) The Queen of Soul is, of course, Aretha Franklin, who plays the PIANO, and had the 1967 hit, "RESPECT."
  • EMOJI (7D: Thinking Face or Smirking Face) Whether you are thinking 🤔 or smirking 😏 there's an EMOJI to reflect your feelings.
  • ALI (10D: "Swan Song" star Mahershala) Swan Song is a 2021 movie set in the near future. Cameron Turner, played by ALI Mahershala, is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and given the option of replacing himself with a clone. 
  • PSI (29D: Omega ___ Phi) Omega PSI Phi, founded at Howard University in 1911, was the first international fraternity founded on the campus of a historically Black college. 
  • TAGALOG (44D: Language in which "magandang umaga" means "good morning") TAGALOG is a language of the TAGALOG people, the second largest ethnolinguistic group in the Philippines. Filipino, the national language of the Philippines, is a variety of the TAGALOG language.
  • TEEN (60D: "you're telling me a cis ___ built this chapel?" (@RileyJohnSavage tweet)) This is a funny and clever way to clue the word TEEN. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that when I figured out this answer I thought, "What chapel? I wonder what the back story is here?" I was a little bit slow to recognize  this is a "Sistine" Chapel pun, but when it hit me, I gave it the groan it deserved!

    Geography review:

    • ASIANS (9D: KL-ites, for example) Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. The city is colloquially referred to as KL, and its residents are known as KL-ites. Since Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia, KL-ites are ASIANS.
    This is a fun anagram theme. Since the anagrams appear at either the beginning or end of the theme answers, I liked the choice of putting the beginning anagrams horizontally, and the ending anagrams vertically to differentiate. As mentioned above, the theme answer/revealer TIMES CHANGE delighted me when I uncovered it. This puzzle was a bit more of a challenging solve for me than usual, but it was a GENTLE challenge, and an enjoyable way to begin my Saturday.

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