Title: START HERE
Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Erik Agard
HELEN REDDY (17A: "I Am Woman" singer)
HEAT RESISTANT (31A: Like welding gloves)
HERBAL REMEDY (54A: Licorice root for a sore throat, for example)
Theme synopsis: In each theme answer, the first word begins with the letters HE-, and the second word begins with the letters RE-. Together the two words START with the word HERE.
Things I learned:
- HENNA (31D: Rasm-e-Mehndi dye) Rams-e-Mehndi is a traditional part of Pakistani weddings. During the ceremony, usually held prior to the wedding, family and friends paint HENNA designs on the hands of the bride and groom.
- ARAB (34D: FIFA ___ Cup (event hosted by Qatar in 2021)) The FIFA ARAB Cup is an association football (soccer) competition between teams in the Union of ARAB Football Associations (UAFA). Although the ARAB Cup has been played at various times since 1963, the 2021 event was the first to be organized by FIFA. Algeria won the FIFA ARAB Cup in 2021.
- ABC (57D: "Abbott Elementary" network) Abbott Elementary is a mockumentary that premiered on ABC in December 2021. (A mockumentary is a show that presents fictional events as if they were being filmed as a documentary.) The show focuses on a group of educators in the Philadelphia public school system. Abbot Elementary was created by Quinta Brunson, who also stars in the show as a second grade teacher.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- ROAR (16A: "I am woman, hear me ___") and HELEN REDDY (17A: "I Am Woman" singer) This is a delightful pair of consecutive clues. "I am woman, hear me ROAR," is the first line of HELEN REDDY's 1971 song, "I am Woman." The song was the first Billboard number one hit by an Australian-born artist. It also won HELEN REDDY a Grammy Award in 1973. Filling in the answer HELEN REDDY immediately transported me to the age of eight, which was how old I was when another HELEN REDDY song became popular. Memories are fascinating things; I can still sing the entire chorus of "Delta Dawn." (Not well, mind you, but I know all of the words...)
- EYES (21A: Shiva has three) Shiva is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. Shiva's third EYE is on his forehead, and is usually depicted as closed. It is said to turn everything in front of it to ash when it is opened.
- PALACE (26A: Tokyo Imperial ___) The Tokyo Imperial PALACE is the home of the Emperor of Japan.
- LEOS (27A: People born on Aug. 6, signwise) People born on Aug. 20 are also LEOS.
- MSU (29A: East Lansing sch.) Michigan State University (MSU), located in East Lansing, was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan.
- BEAM (35A: Roof support) and HAIL (51A: It may cause roof damage) Unfortunately, HAIL damage can occur even if your roof is well supported by BEAMs.
- BAA (53A: Sound from a lamb) and BLEAT (62A: Sound from a lamb) Another pair of related clues; this time a repeated clue, which always makes me think, "Wait, I've already done this one..." I'm a fan of paired clues. They help make a puzzle feel cohesive.
- MISO (29D: Paste used to pickle veggies) MISO is a seasoning paste made by fermenting soybeans with salt and other ingredients. I found this recipe if you'd like to try to make your own MISO-pickled veggies.
- TAHOE (1D: Lake home to De'ek Wadapush) De'ek Wadapush, also known as Cave Rock, is a sacred place to the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. The stone formation along the shores of Lake TAHOE is a column of volcanic rock.
- SEOUL (28D: Capital city home to Mnet headquarters) Mnet (an acronym of Music Network) is a South Korean pay TV music channel. Mnet's headquarters are located in South Korea's capital city of SEOUL.
- BALI (55D: Indonesian island where ogoh-ogoh are built) Ogoh-ogoh are statues of mythological beings, mostly demons. The statues are built for the Ngrupuk parade held in BALI, Indonesia on the eve of Nyepi Day. Nyepi is a Day of Silence observed in Balinese Hinduism.
An interesting variation on an initialism theme, with the first two letters of each theme answer word being featured. In addition to the theme, I enjoyed the answers SAFE HAVEN and PIMENTO, as well as the not-paired-by-clues, but adjacent LIBERAL LEADERS. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Sunday.