March 10, 2022


Constructor: Neville Fogarty

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
NETFLIX ORIGINAL (16A: "The Queen's Gambit," e.g.)
TATE MODERN (25A: London museum that opened in 2000)
FREE RADICAL (43A: Stable molecule with an unpaired valence electron)
ZAILA AVANT-GARDE (56A: Guinness World Record holder who won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is a synonym for SOMETHING NEW: ORIGINAL, MODERN, RADICAL, and AVANT-GARDE.

Things I learned:
  • PEDRO (20A: Pascal of "The Mandalorian") The Mandalorian is a TV series on Disney+ (a Disney+ ORIGINAL!) that is part of the Star Wars franchise. The events of The Mandalorian take place five years after the events of the 1983 movie Return of the Jedi. PEDRO Pascal plays the title character, bounty hunter Din Djarin. Although I've read quite a bit about The Mandalorian (and "Baby Yoda") on my social media feeds, I haven't seen the show, and needed to rely on crossing answers to discover PEDRO.
  • DANA (35A: Publisher and Pulitzer winner Canedy) DANA Canedy was part of The New York Times staff that won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for a series titled, "How Race Is Lived in America." She later became the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, a position she held from 2017 to 2020, and she was the first woman and first person of color, to hold that position. She is the author of the 2008 memoir, A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor, that was adapted into a 2021 movie. In July 2020, DANA Canedy became Senior Vice President and Publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL (16A: "The Queen's Gambit," e.g.) The Queen's Gambit is a 2020 NETFLIX ORIGINAL miniseries based on the 1983 book of the same name by Walter Tevis. Anya Taylor-Joy plays the role of fictional chess prodigy, Beth Harmon.
  • TOM (21A: Name hidden in "automobile") "Where's TOM?" "He's in the car."
  • TATE MODERN (25A: London museum that opened in 2000) The TATE MODERN is located in a former power station in the Bankside area of London along the River Thames. As its name suggests, the museum houses MODERN and contemporary art. There are four TATE galleries that house the United Kingdom's national art collection: TATE MODERN, TATE Britain, TATE Liverpool, and TATE St. Ives.
  • RAP (30A: Saweetie genre) I learned about RAP artist and songwriter, Saweetie, from the April 14, 2021 puzzle. Saweetie's debut studio album, titled Pretty Bitch Music, is scheduled to be released this year.
  • FREE RADICAL (43A: Stable molecule with an unpaired valence electron) You know I'm always a fan of science content in the puzzle. Due to the unpaired electron, a FREE RADICAL is generally highly reactive. 
  • ZAILA AVANT-GARDE (56A: Guinness World Record holder who won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee) ZAILA AVANT-GARDE won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling "murraya" (a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees). Following her Spelling Bee success, ZAILA AVANT-GARDE (her father gave her the last name AVANT-GARDE in tribute to jazz musician John Coltrane) described spelling as a side interest, saying, "Basketball is what I do." It is basketball for which ZAILA AVANT-GARDE holds three Guinness World Records. Her dribbling skills are quite impressive! I remember reading about ZAILA AVANT-GARDE when she won the Scripps Spelling Bee, and thinking that I would someday see her name in a crossword. Today is the day. I appreciated that the crossings for ZAILA AVANT-GARDE were on the easier side, allowing solvers unfamiliar with this name (or not sure how to spell it) to be successful.
  • SAN (1D: ___ Diego Wave FC) SAN Diego Wave FC is a National Women's Soccer League team founded in June 2021.
  • RUN (10D: Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun ___ Race for the Cure) I was delighted with this incredibly long clue for a three-letter answer.  Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun RUN Race for the Cure is from a season 4 episode of the TV series, The Office.
  • ANITA (31D: Ariana DeBose's "West Side Story" role) Ariana DeBose plays the role of ANITA in the 2021 Steven Spielberg movie adaptation of West Side Story.
  • TEEN (55D: Many a "Euphoria" character) Euphoria is an HBO TV series written by Sam Levinson. Loosely based on an Israeli miniseries of the same name, Euphoria tells the story of a group of high school students and their various experiences.

    Geography review:

    • ASIA (13A: Iran's continent) The official name of Iran is the Islamic Republic of IRAN. Located in Western ASIA, Iran borders Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The capital of Iran is Tehran. ASIA is making its second crossword appearance of the month.
    • EAST (23A: Direction from L.A. to LA) This is a fun clue! To travel from L.A. (Los Angeles) to LA (Louisiana), one would go EAST.
    • USA (11D: Chicago's country) Chicago, Illinois is indeed in the USA. Since our daughter lives in Chicago, my husband and I make frequent trips there. We were there last weekend, in fact, helping our daughter and her boyfriend move. Many thanks again to Brooke Husic and Shannon Rapp for guest blogging so I could give moving my full attention!

    And now for ...SOMETHING NEW. Let me BEGIN with today's theme answers; they were all might say they were all "novel" in a way. There was a lot to enjoy in today's puzzle in addition to the theme. Shoutout to the delightful clue for HI MOM (14D: Mouthed greeting from the stands). I also liked the answers TACTIC and NUGGET. This puzzle was a fabulous way to begin my Thursday. 


    1. Thanks for your kind words, Sally!

      My original clue for EAST asked for the direction from Lexington, KY to Lexington, VA (two places I've lived), but I really liked the shorter gag in the edited version, too!

      1. Oh, I would have enjoyed a Lexington to Lexington clue, too! Save it for next time. :-)

      2. I loved "L.A. to LA" clue, and also the Dunder Mifflin one - made me laugh - thank you Neville for a great puzzle!


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