March 19, 2022


Constructor: Rachel Fabi

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
HER MAJESTY (17A: Queen's title)
SHOW UP UNINVITED (37A: Crash the party)
WRONG AGAIN (58A: "Bzzt! Still not right!")

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer has a type of JOKE hidden INSIDE it. This puzzle's INSIDE JOKEs are a JEST, a PUN, and a GAG. 

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • COCO (14A: Disney film about Dia de los Muertos) The 2017 animated movie, COCO, is inspired by the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Metros, or Day of the Dead, a time to pray for and remember family and friends that have died.
  • ALOO (51A: ___ matar (dish with potatoes and peas in a tomato sauce)) ALOO is a South Asian term for potatoes, so when you see ALOO in the name of a dish, it likely contains potatoes. Conversely, when you notice that a dish described in a crossword clue contains potatoes, the answer may be ALOO. Today's potato containing dish, ALOO matar, originated in Punjab, a region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.
  • ALDO (57A: Environmental ethicist Leopold) ALDO Leopold was a scientist, ecologist, conservationist, environmentalist and author. His writings, including his 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, have been influential in developing modern environmental ethics. He helped found The Wilderness Society in 1937. ALDO Leopold was born in 1887 in Burlington, Iowa, and grew up in the southeastern town. (Heads up to constructors in need of a clue for Iowa or Iowan.)
  • ANTI (27D: Rihanna album whose title is in all caps) ANTI, released in 2016, was Rihanna's eighth studio album. Three songs from the album became top ten hits: "Work" (featuring the rapper Drake), "Needed Me," and "Love on the Brain."
  • GEN (31D: Lead-in to X, Y and Z) Yesterday's puzzle featured GEN Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) and millennials (1981-1995). Today GEN X (1965-1980) and GEN Y (1981-1995) join the party. And yes, those years for GEN Y and millennials are the same; two different names for the same demographic. I mentioned yesterday that my son is a millennial, a member of GEN Y, and my daughter is in GEN Z. I am in GEN X, so our family has the last part of the GEN alphabet covered. My husband is a boomer...we definitely have generation gaps.
  • PAW (38D: Toe bean spot) Willow gives this puzzle the cat PAW of approval,
    complete with toe beans, the squishy pads on the underside of a cat's PAW. 
  • MEGAN (52A: ___ Thee Stallion) Grammy-award winning rapper MEGAN Thee Stallion graduated from Texas Southern University in December 2021 with a B.S. in health administration.
  • THE (2D: "Blue is ___ Warmest Color" (graphic novel)) Book titles are a great way to clue common words in an interesting way. Blue is THE Warmest Color is a French graphic novel by Jul March. It is the love story of two young women in the late 1990s. The French version, Le bleu est une couleur chaude, was published in 2010, and the English version was published in 2013. The graphic novel was adapted into a 2013 movie, Blue is THE Warmest Colour. One of the characters was renamed in the movie, and the ending was changed.
  • MACE (56D: Sister spice of nutmeg) The spices nutmeg and MACE are obtained from the same species of evergreen tree. Nutmeg is made by grinding the tree's seeds into powder. MACE is made from the seed covering, resulting in a flavor similar to nutmeg, but milder.
  • ORE (60D: Catan resource found on a mountain hex) In the board game, Settlers of Catan, players collect resources - ORE, wheat, wood, brick, and wool - that are used to build houses, roads, and cities. As the clue tells us, ORE is collected from mountain hexes. I am still waiting for brick and wool to appear in the puzzle to collect a full set of Catan-clued resources.

    Geography review:

    • AGUA (19A: Contents of Lago Titicaca) Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America. The freshwater lake is found in the Andes, on the border of Bolivia and Peru. The clue gives the Spanish name, Lago Titicaca, tipping us off that the answer is AGUA, the Spanish word for water.
    • BOCA (25A: ___ Raton (Florida city)) BOCA Raton is a city in southern Florida. It is about 45 miles north of Miami, and is considered part of the Miami metropolitan area. BOCA Raton is the home of the Evert Tennis Academy, a training center for collegiate and professional players. 
    • CAIRO (66A: Egyptian capital) CAIRO, Egypt, located near the Nile River delta, is the largest city in the Arab world. CAIRO is home to Al-Azhar University, the second oldest degree granting university in the world. It was founded circa 972 (1,050 years ago). The oldest university, founded 857-859, is the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.
    A JEST, a PUN, and a GAG walk into a crossword puzzle... The result is an enjoyable puzzle that didn't once make me want to say, I WON'T DO IT! Three great theme answers today. I liked them all, but especially enjoyed the clue for WRONG AGAIN! This is a classic theme type, but we often see the same word hidden in all of the theme answers. Interesting and fun to see a different JOKE appear INSIDE each theme answer. Other great answers today: SPACE SUIT, CUTESY, and UH OH. Shoutout to the accurate clue for IT'S ME (1A: Unhelpful response to "Who's there?") This puzzle was a delightfully funny way to begin my Saturday.
    One more thing today. It's a great day to remind you of your opportunity to support reproductive justice and receive fantastic crosswords through the fundraiser, These Puzzles Fund Abortion, Too. The puzzles were edited by today's constructor, Rachel Fabi, along with Claire Rimkus and Brooke Husic (also USA Today constructors). So far the project has raised over $26,000 dollars. If you haven't donated yet, I encourage you to check it out. Also, if you want to hear Rachel talk about the project, she was interviewed last week on Boswords