March 21, 2022


Constructors: Kaitlin Hsu & Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
HELLO WORLD (16A: Greeting often output by a coder's first program)
VOW OF SILENCE (25A: A daylong one is taken in April to protest discrimination of LGBTQ+ students)
KANGAROO WORD (45A: Honorable (which contains the letters of "noble" in order), for example)
NOW OR NEVER (59A: Phrase said before going all out)
OWO (69A: Surprised emoticon hidden in four of this puzzle's answers)

Theme synopsis: Each of the theme answers contains the letter sequence OWO, which is an emoticon used to indicate surprise.

And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke: It was extremely (like, way too much) fun to create this with Kaitlin and I'm beyond honored to be a part of her debut puzzle and fully retweet everything she says below:
Kaitlin: I’m so happy to publish my first ever crossword—much thanks to Brooke and Erik for their guidance! This puzzle began in my screen-damaged brain after noticing there were words that could contain emoticons like “uwu” and “owo”. It was fun to depart from the internet for a bit and learn about famous Iowans, words within words, and protesting.
Finally, I’m grateful for the chance to spotlight the AAPI community with clues like 44A, 12D, and 62D. Last Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings—a tragedy that also speaks to a rise in anti-Asian violence over the past two years. If you’d like to support these communities, please consider donating to a charity like Red Canary Song, which is where our proceeds from this puzzle are going.

Things I learned:
  • BEEF (3D: Wagyu meat) Wagyu is a Japanese breed of BEEF cattle. Meat from Wagyu cattle is sometimes labeled according to areas, such as Kobe BEEF, or Mishima BEEF.
  • EEL (62D: Fish that became the first coconut tree, in Samoan myth) The Samoan myth concerning the origin of the coconut tree is known as "The Legend of Sina and the EEL."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • FUR (4A: Cat's coat) Willow approves of this puzzle, and especially of this clue.
  • HELLO WORLD (16A: Greeting often output by a coder's first program) A "HELLO, WORLD" program is often the first program written by those learning to code.
  • BEE (22A: Insect with a waggle dance) Nature is fascinating. A BEE uses movement known as a waggle dance to communicate with other BEEs. The dance relays information about the location of a flower patch.
  • VOW OF SILENCE (25A: A daylong one is taken in April to protest discrimination of LGBTQ+ students) The Day of Silence is promoted by GLSEN, an education organization working to end discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The daylong VOW OF SILENCE is ended at "Break the Silence" rallies. This year's Day of Silence is scheduled for April 22, 2022.
  • TEA (44A: Chrysanthemum beverage) As you might expect, chrysanthemum TEA is made by steeping chrysanthemum flowers (usually dried) in hot water. Chrysanthemum TEA, to which sugar may be added, is popular in East and Southeast Asia.
  • KANGAROO WORD (45A: Honorable (which contains the letters of "noble" in order), for example) A KANGAROO WORD is one that contains the letters of a synonym of that word, with the letters in the correct order. In the example given in the clue, the word honorable contains its synonym, noble. Chocolate is another KANGAROO WORD, containing its synonym, cocoa. 
  • TEEN (65A: ___ drama ("Skins" genre)) The American TV series Skins was a remake of a British show of the same name. Both shows are TEEN dramas, centering on the lives of a group of teenagers.
  • OWO (69A: Surprised emoticon hidden in four of this puzzle's answers) USA Today crosswords only occasionally feature revealers, and today is one of those occasions. OWO is an emoticon representing a surprised face "with a CAT-like smile." An emoticon uses characters - such as OWO - to represent facial expressions. Emoticons are different from emojis, which are pictures. This revealer, perfectly placed in the lower right corner, was an added SURPRISE INSIDE today's puzzle. 
  • SAAB (1D: Lebanese designer known for bridal couture) I learned about fashion designer Elie SAAB from the December 6, 2020 puzzle.
  • URL (5D:, e.g.) The Black Film Archive is "a living register of Black films." I always enjoy when constructors use an answer such as URL to highlight a specific site.
  • ADOBO (12D: Marinated Filipino dish) Philippine ADOBO is a dish consisting of meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated in a sauce of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns. ADOBO is sometimes considered to be the unofficial national dish of the Philippines.

    Geography review:

    • SAUDI (14A: Loujain al-Hathloul, for one) Loujain al-Hathloul, who was born in Jeddah, SAUDI Arabia, is a women's rights activist. She has spoken out against the ban on women driving in SAUDI Arabia and the male guardianship system. As a result of her activism, Loujain al-Hathloul has been kidnapped, tortured, and held as a political prisoner. She was awarded the 2020 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize in honor of her defense of women's rights.
    • UAE (54A: Burj Khalifa's country) The Burj Khalifa, which I have previously written about, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). At just over half a mile tall, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world.
    • STL (68A: City Faces program's city, for short) The St. Louis (STL), Missouri City Faces program's mission is "to promote equity and advance social justice for youth in St. Louis, with a particular emphasis on mitigating educational disparities."
    • SAO (7D: ___ Paulo, Brazil) SÃO Paulo, Brazil is the most populous city in Brazil, and the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world.
    • IOWAN (51D: Mary Beth Tinker, by birth) When Mary Beth Tinker was 13-years-old, she wore a black armband to school to protest the Vietnam War. The action led to her suspension from school, and ultimately to her being one of the plaintiffs in the 1969 Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District. The Supreme Court ruled that Mary Beth Tinker's suspension violated her First Amendment Rights, and the ruling set a standard for student expression known as the Tinker test. Although I am an IOWAN now, I am not an IOWAN by birth. Mary Beth Tinker and I do have something else in common, however. Her father was a Methodist minister, and so was mine.
    Were you SURPRISEd by today's puzzle? A fun theme with fantastic theme answers and a well-place revealer. In addition to the answers I've highlighted above, I especially enjoyed the paired cheddar clues: AGED (15A: Like some cheddar) and CHEESE (13D: Cheddar, for example). I also liked SLOW DAY and STATURE. Congratulations to Kaitlin Hsu on her crossword debut! The puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Monday.


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