March 25, 2022


Constructors: Hoang-Kim Vu & Angela Pai

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BUY SOME TIME (17A: Ask for an extension, for example)
WRAP DRESS (29A: Garment that became a feminist symbol)
GIVE AND GO (44A: Quick one-two play in sports)
OPEN LETTERS (57A: Writings of protest)

Theme synopsis: The first words of the theme answers form a PRESENT sequence: BUY, WRAP, GIVE, OPEN.

And now a word from our constructor:
Kim: The nature of crossword construction is sometimes you aim to have a puzzle for the holiday season and it just doesn't come together in time. So here we are, for ::puts finger to earpiece:: International Waffle Day? an extended Nowruz celebration? Who knows? Either way, very happy with this grid, especially how it naturally (accidentally?) contains two of my favorite places on earth at 23A and 27D.
It was a joy to construct with the talented Angela Pai - absolutely revel in the stellar 10D or the incredible clues for 7D or 12D - who I met through the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory. If you're someone who doesn't see themselves regularly reflected in crosswords and are interested in trying to change that, this is an amazing place to be linked up with a mentor!
Angela: I'm thrilled and grateful that I got to work on this puzzle with Kim, who generously took the time to mentor a newbie constructor. The increase in diversity of constructors over the years has made crosswords so much more fun and meaningful for me, and I think it's amazing that so many mentors and resources are out there to help new people (like me, and maybe anyone reading this!) get into constructing.

Things I learned:
  • AHMED (26A: "Living a Feminist Life" writer Sara) Living a Feminist Life is a 2017 book by feminist writer and scholar, Sara AHMED. The book discusses feminist theory, and also provides practical tools for how to live a feminist life. While writing the book, Sara AHMED began the feministkilljoys blog, and has continued to blog about her research.
  • GIVE-AND-GO (44A: Quick one-two play in sports) Yesterday I got excited that I knew a sports answer; today I learned two new sports things! GIVE-AND-GO is a term used to describe plays that involve two players passing the ball (or puck) back and forth. I have seen this play used, but was not familiar with the term.
  • OLIVIA (7D: Cruise line for lesbians and LGBTQ+ women) Since 1990, OLIVIA Travel has been planning cruises and resort vacations specifically for women in the lesbian and LGBTQ+ community.
  • WOKS (12D: The ___ of Life (Chinese cooking blog)) The WOKS of Life is a cooking blog started in 2013 as a way for a family (parents Judy and Bill, and their adult daughters, Sarah and Kaitlin) to share recipes and kitchen adventures. There are lots of recipes on the blog, but also a "How-To" and "Ingredients" section. I have bookmarked this site so I can spend time exploring it later!
  • DE LA (41D: ___ Soul (rap trio)) The rap trio, DE LA Soul, is composed of members Posdnuos, Trugoy, and Maseo. Their most recent studio album is And the Anonymous Nobody... (2016).
  • LPGA (52D: Org. for Mariah Stackhouse and Danielle Kang) Mariah Stackhouse and Danielle King are professional golfers playing on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • STOMP (5A: Long-running percussive theater show) STOMP, created by Steve McNicholas and Luke Cresswell in 1991, is a theater experience that blends dance, music, and theatrical performance.  Performers use a variety of everyday objects, including their bodies, as percussion instruments. 
  • EGO (16A: You might have an inflated one) Ha! What a fun clue. In the (adapted) words of Carly Simon, "You're so vain / I bet you think this clue is about you."
  • ARK (19A: MacGuffin in an Indiana Jones title) That Indiana Jones title is, of course, Raiders of the Lost ARK. In fiction, a MacGuffin is an object that serves as motivation for the characters, though the object itself isn't necessarily important. 
  • WRAP DRESS (29A: Garment that became a feminist symbol) Although versions of the WRAP DRESS have been around since the 1930, fashion designer, Diane von Füstenberg is credited with reviving interest in the style. Here's a Marie Claire article that provides more information on the history and influence of the WRAP DRESS. 
  • MAY (37A: International Workers' Day month) I have previously written about International Workers' Day.
  • MAYA (3D: Angelou on quarters) The MAYA Angelou quarter, issued this year, is the first coin in the American Women Quarters Program. Other women to be honored are Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong.
  • TEA TREE OIL (10D: Herbal ingredient in acne treatments) TEA TREE OIL, also known as melaleuca OIL, is derived, as you might expect, from the TEA TREE, a shrub in the myrtle family.
  • OGRE (11D: Oni-like monster) An oni is a kind of OGRE in Japanese folklore.

    Geography review:

    • MALAWI (23A: "The Warm Heart of Africa") MALAWI is a landlocked country (roughly the size of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania) in southeast Africa. Its neighbors are Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The warmth and kindness of its people has earned MALAWI the nickname, "The Warm Heart of Africa." The capital of MALAWI is Lilongwe.
    • LAOS (33A: Boun That Luang's country) Boun That Luang is a Buddhist celebration in LAOS. The festival is celebrated in November. During the festival, people gather at That Luang, a temple and religious monument in Vientiane (the capital of LAOS).
    • HANOI (27D: Capital where bun cha originated) Bún chả, a dish of grilled pork and noodles originated in HANOI, the capital of Vietnam.
    • SANTO (31D: ___ Domingo, DR) The Dominican Republic (DR) is a country on Hispaniola, a Caribbean island that it shares with the country of Haiti. SANTO Domingo is the capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic.
    One of my "endearing" habits (some people might use a different word...) is that on the 25th of each month, I make a post on Facebook to remind my family and friends how many months away from Christmas we are. Although I do enjoy celebrating Christmas, my monthly posts really evolved more out of the fact that I enjoy numbers and dates and like noticing the passage of time in this way, and it reminds me of my dad. Therefore, as nine months from today is Christmas, I was TOTALLY delighted to receive the PRESENT of this puzzle AT THIS MOMENT. A fun and creative theme with interesting theme answers. Congratulations to Angela Pai on her crossword debut! This puzzle was a fantastic way to begin my Friday.
    One more thing. I echo Kim and Angela in recommending the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory if you have any interest at all in constructing puzzles. It's a fabulous resource and community.