March 24, 2022

Title: TBT

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
TRUTH BTOLD (16A: "Honestly...")
TRAVEL BTRAIN (33A: Ride the Shinkansen, for example)
TURNS BACK TIME (55A: Finds the Fountain of Youth, maybe)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a phrase with the initials TBT.

Things I learned:
  • DAME (6A: Title for Kiri Te Kanawa) DAME Kiri Te Kanawa is a retired New Zealand opera singer. She is also the founder of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation which assists "outstanding young New Zealand singers who have complete dedication to their art, with judicious mentoring, financial support and career assistance."
  • SPA (10A: ___ + pool = spool) This use of the word "spool" is new to me. A portmanteau of "spa" and "pool," a spool resembles a hot tub, but has directional jets that create a current that allows you to swim in place. 
  • EVER (42A: "Fattily ___ After" (Stephanie Yeboah book) Stephanie Yeboah is a blogger, author, and "body image and fat acceptance advocate." Her 2020 book, Fattily EVER After, discusses her journey to self-acceptance.
  • PEYOTE (51A: Cactus in Wirikuta) Wirikuta is a desert in central Mexico. The site is sacred to the Wixárika, indigenous people of Mexico and the United States. Members of the Wixárika community make an annual pilgrimage to Wirikuta, during which they collect PEYOTE. 
  • DAL (53A: Moong ___) Moong DAL is a term used for split mung beans, available either dehulled, or with the skin on. Also known as green gram, moong DAL is used to make a number of dishes in Indian cuisine.
  • TEMP (37D: ___ Worker Justice (labor rights org.)) TEMP Worker Justice is a nonprofit organization that supports TEMP workers and organizations advocating for justice and fairness in the workplace.
  • RACKET (49D: Piece of equipment for Saina Nehwal or Lin Dan) The RACKET used by Saina Nehwal and Lin Dan is a badminton RACKET; they are both professional badminton players. Saina Nehwal is a former world number one badminton player. She has represented India at the Olympics, the World Championships, and the Asian Games. Lin Dan represented China at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games, winning gold medals in Men's singles badminton both times. He is regarded by some as the greatest badminton player of all time.
  • PORK (61A: Butajiru meat) and POTS (1D: Vessels for cooking butajiru) Butajiru is a version of miso soup made with PORK and vegetables.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • PASTA (1A: Trenette al pesto, for example) Trenette is a type of PASTA from Liguria, a region of Italy. It is narrow and flat, similar to linguine and fettuccine, and is often served with pesto.
  • TRAVEL BY TRAIN (33A: Ride the Shinkansen, for example) TBT to earlier this month when I learned about the Shinkansen, a network of high-speed railways in Japan. Some of the Shinkansen TRAINs TRAVEL at speeds of 200 mph.
  • THERE (37A: Word said while pointing) and ORIENT (38A: Point in the right direction) This is a fun pair of consecutive clues echoing "point."
  • SATAN (40A: Christian equivalent of Iblis) According to the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, the leader of the devils, Iblis, used to be a high-ranking angel before being thrown out of heaven. In Christian texts, SATAN is sometimes similarly described as a fallen angel.
  • ASH (5D: Tennis star Barty, for short) I knew this sports clue! Ashleigh Barty, ASH for short, is currently the number one ranked singles tennis player in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). This clue is timely, because Ashleigh Barty announced her retirement from tennis yesterday
  • SPAM (56D: Musubi meat) I wrote about SPAM Musubi on June 12, 2021 when we saw the Hawaiian snack as a theme answer. #TBT
  • TACO (58D: Food sometimes prepared al carbon) "Al carbon" refers to food cooked over charcoal, so a TACO al carbon would feature grilled meats inside a tortilla.

    Geography review:

    • THREE (33D: Number of capital cities South Africa has) and TWO (60D: Number of capital cities Bolivia has) This is a delightful pair of clues. South Africa and Bolivia have divided the functions of their government across multiple cities. South Africa has THREE capitals: Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), and Bloemfontein (judicial). Bolivia has TWO capitals: Sucre (constitutional and judicial) and La Paz (executive and legislative).
    • ELK (50D: Utah's state animal) The state mammal of Utah is the Rocky Mountain ELK, a subspecies of ELK found in mountain ranges of Western North America.
    TRUTH BE TOLD, it may feel like one TURNS BACK TIME if you TRAVEL BY TRAIN. We usually see Zhouqin Burnikel's puzzles on Sundays and Wednesdays. When we don't, there's usually a good reason for the switch. When I saw the title and byline of today's puzzle I knew why yesterday's delightful puzzle was by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano instead of Zhouqin. TBT is short for Throwback Thursday, a social media trend of posting nostalgia with the hashtag #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday. Of course this puzzle needed to run on a Thursday! My favorite theme answer today was TURNS BACK TIME, since it not only has the initials TBT, but also encapsulates the concept of Throwback Thursday. As you can see, I learned quite a bit from today's puzzle. It was an enjoyable way to begin my Thursday.