February 21, 2022

Title: ...

Constructors: Brooke Husic & Rachel Fabi

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
PERIOD TRACKERS (16A: Cycle-monitoring tools)
DOT PAINTING (37A: Aboriginal art style)
POINT STATE PARK (63A: Pittsburgh landmark at the confluence of three rivers)

Theme synopsis: The first words of the theme answers are synonymous, and can all be used to describe the characters in an ellipsis...PERIOD, DOT, POINT.

And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke & Rachel: We're so excited to share this puzzle with the world! We love all of the theme answers — Rachel is particularly pleased to highlight 63A, a place that is so visually iconic and important to her that she now owns multiple pieces of artwork about it (if you are unfamiliar with it, please google because it's lovely!). We are also happy to reference an ABBA song in 56D.

Things I learned:
  • LYE (32A: ___ water (jianshui zong ingredient)) Jianshui zong are also known as LYE water rice dumplings. They are a sweet version of sticky rice dumplings. LYE water is used to raise the pH of the mixture, and gives jianshui zong a distinctive yellow color.
  • DOT PAINTING (37A: Aboriginal art style) DOT PAINTING is a style of contemporary Aboriginal art that emerged in the 1970s. 
  • ROY (42A: Activist Aruna) Aruna ROY is a social and political activist in India, working to fight corruption and promote government transparency. She is the founder of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), an Indian political organization that advocated for the Right to Information Act enacted in 2005. She is also the president of the National Federation of Indian Women. This interview The Wire did with Aruna ROY is interesting, and I found many of her thoughts applicable to situations in the United States as well as India.
  • DYE (23D: Jagua, e.g.) Jagua is a DYE extracted from unripened fruit of the Genipa americana tree. Jagua gel is used to create blue-black tattoos that last one to two weeks. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • OPAL (9A: Apple variety that shares its name with a gem) OPAL apples are a hybrid cultivar produced by crossing Golden Delicious and Topaz apples. OPAL apples are resistant to browning, allowing them to be sold pre-sliced.
  • PERIOD TRACKERS (16A: Cycle-monitoring tools) PERIOD TRACKERS such as the apps Clue and Flo, are examples of FemTech which I have written about previously.
  • ETC (24A: "You get the idea") ETC, short for the Latin phrase "et cetera," can be represented by ellipses - three PERIODs, three DOTs, three POINTs...you get the idea. A lovely bonus theme answer.
  • TAG SALE (26A: Decluttering event) and YARD (7D: Place for a 26-Across) After filling in a couple of letters from crossing answers, I had no problem filling in TAG SALE. However, although I've heard this phrase, it is definitely not commonly used in the Midwest where I live. I was curious about the regional use of TAG SALE, and discovered that Reader's Digest has helpfully mapped its use for me. 
  • YOLO (28A: Acronym for the adventurous) YOLO = You only live once.
  • USA (34A: Dalilah Muhammad's Olympic team) Dalilah Muhammad's track and field specialty is the 400 meter hurdles. She represented Team USA in the event at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she won a gold medal, and at the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021), where she won a silver medal. She was also part of the USA Team that won gold in the 4x400 meter relay at the 2020 Olympics.
  • TOES (51A: Penguins have three on each foot) You can learn amazing things from crossword puzzles, including how many TOES a variety of animals have. Since I have been blogging the USA Today puzzle, I have learned a polydactyl cat might have seven TOES on one foot, ostriches have two TOES on each foot, the Tyrannosaurus Rex had four TOES on each foot, and now I know a penguin has three TOES on each foot.
  • HULU (58A: "Love, Victor" streaming service) I have previously written about the TV show, Love, Victor. 
  • ART (6D: "Maus" graphic novelist Spiegelman) I have also previously written about the graphic novel, Maus, by ART Spiegelman. A timely clue, as Maus has been in the news recently.
  • ASL (45D: Language related to LSQ) American Sign Language (ASL) is related to Langue des signes du Qu├ębec (LSQ), which is also known as Quebec Sign Language.
  • AYESHA (50D: "The Seasoned Life" chef Curry) I'm usually not surprised to see answers repeated in back-to-back crosswords. It happens, particularly with common crossword answers such as "erie," "asia," or "oreo." I would not call AYESHA a common crossword answer, but we did see this same clue and answer yesterday. That made it easy to fill in with confidence!
  • ONE (56D: "___ of Us" (ABBA single)) "ONE of Us" is a 1981 song from ABBA's album, The Visitors. Nice use of a song title to make an interesting clue for the word ONE.
  • TTYL (60D: "g2g!") g2g = got to go and TTYL = talk to you later.
  • KAW (66D: People of the South Wind) The KAW Nation, also known as the "People of the South Wind," are a tribe in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas.

    Geography review:

    • ARCH (13A: St. Louis landmark) St. Louis's Gateway ARCH was designed by Eero Saarinen. The construction of the ARCH was completed in 1965 (just a couple months after I was born!), and opened to the public in 1967. The ARCH and the area surrounding it were designated as a National Park in 2018.
    • IRAN (14A: Country that celebrates Nowruz) Nowruz is the IRANian New year, which is celebrated on the vernal equinox, on or around March 21. 
    • POINT STATE PARK (63A: Pittsburgh landmark at the confluence of three rivers) Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, POINT STATE PARK is at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. The fountain in POINT STATE PARK sprays water up to 150 feet in the air. I encourage you to check out the photos of the fountain Brooke and Rachel linked to in their note if you haven't already. (I've linked to the same site here.) These beautiful photos definitely make me want to visit POINT STATE PARK.

     Did you wonder if there was a mistake when you saw the title of today's puzzle? My first guess was that we would see three phrases hiding the word DOT. I was one-third correct! A fun, creative theme, with three great theme answers. In addition to the answers I've highlighted above, I liked ARE WE OK, SCRAWLED, UP FRONT, TEA TREE, and GOOD CALL. This puzzle was a delightful way to start my Monday. g2g, TTYL!