March 31, 2022


Constructors: Brooke Husic & Will Nediger

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BELL HOOKS (41A: "Ain't I a Woman" author)
TRIANGLE POSE (58A: Yoga asana named for a shape)
HARP SEALS (7D: Arctic marine mammals)
VIOLA DESMOND (19D: Businesswoman who challenged segregation at a Nova Scotia movie theater in 1946)

Theme synopsis: The first word (INTRO) of each theme answer is an instrument used to play MUSIC. Our INTRO MUSIC today is provided by a BELL, a TRIANGLE, a HARP, and a VIOLA.

And now a word from our constructors:
Will: I'm delighted to have collaborated with my friend (and now fellow New Yorker constructor) Brooke Husic for my second USA Today puzzle (and Brooke's 100th!). This puzzle was inspired by the late bell hooks, but as a Canadian, I was also happy to work the local hero Viola Desmond into the theme.
Brooke: I've written before about how crucial Will's been to my crossword journey from the beginning (my very first puzzle was in the USAT exactly 2 years and 1 week ago!) and am so happy for our joint byline to have its USAT debut! I'm glad Will was down for the diagonal arrangement and big blocks in the corner and am so happy with the fill and clues!

Things I learned:
  • RODEO (44A: Event for a paniolo) A paniolo is a Hawaiian cowboy.
  • OCD (45A: Disorder in "Pure" by Rose Cartwright) Pure is a 2018 memoir by Rose Cartwright, in which she discusses living with Pure O, a form of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) that manifests as constant invasive thoughts about sex. Pure has been adapted into a TV series of the same name.
  • UKE (48A: Kamaka instrument, for short) Kamaka is a Hawaii-based company that makes ukuleles. It was fun to see a UKE providing backup music in this musical-themed puzzle.
  • ADA (23D: Lawyer ___ Lois Sipuel Fisher) In 1946, ADA Lois Sipuel Fisher applied to the Law School at the University of Oklahoma, and was denied admission because she is Black. In 1948, in the case Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma must provide instruction for Black people equal to that provided for white people.
  • NWSL (28D: Orlando Pride's org.) Based in Orlando, Florida, the Orlando Pride is a professional women's soccer team. The team joined the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in 2016.
  • SOY (40D: "Yo ___ Joaquin" (Corky Gonzales poem)) "Yo SOY Joaquin" is a 1967 poem by Corky Gonzales that highlights the struggle Chicanos face as they try to hold onto their Mexican roots, while assimilating into American culture.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • TEMPEH (11A: Protein in some TLTs) The TLT - TEMPEH, lettuce, tomato sandwich - is a vegan version of a BLT. TEMPEH is made from fermented soybeans, and is a good protein source.
  • AREN'T (14A: "___ You Kind of Glad We Did?") "AREN'T You Kind of Glad We Did?" is a song by George and Ira Gershwin. Crossword-favorite Ella Fitzgerald recorded her version of the song in 1959. The answer here is inferable even for solvers unfamiliar with the song. I don't think the INTRO for "AREN'T You Kind of Glad We Did?" is played with a BELL, TRIANGLE, HARP, and VIOLA, but it might be interesting if it was.
  • EAR (22A: Place for a daith piercing) A daith piercing passes through the innermost cartilage fold of the EAR. 
  • SANDAL (32A: Zori or flip-flop) Zori are thonged Japanese SANDALs. After World War II, U.S. soldiers brought Zori home with them, ultimately inspiring the design of flip-flops.
  • BELL HOOKS (41A: "Ain't I a Woman" author) Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism is a 1981 book by bell hooks. The book is considered a classic work of feminist scholarship. Its title comes from a speech given by Sojourner Truth. (I have previously written about that particular speech.)
  • TRIANGLE POSE (58A: Yoga asana named for a shape) TRIANGLE POSE, also known as Trikonasana, is a standing pose in yoga as exercise.
  • DUO (62A: VanJess is one) VanJess is the R&B DUO of sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike.
  • SCAR (6D: Facial feature of Inigo Montoya) For fans of the 1987 movie, The Princess Bride, this clue may bring to mind the line, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Mandy Patinkin played the role of Inigo Montoya, who has a SCAR on each cheek. I am definitely a FAN (9D: Person who might write fic) of The Princess Bride, though I haven't written any FAN fic about it. I do have a Princess Bride fridge magnet collection, however, that I have previously shared a photo of.
  • HARP SEALS (7D: Arctic marine mammals) HARP SEALS are a species of earless seal native to the Arctic Ocean and the northernmost Atlantic Ocean. HARP SEALS are also known as Saddleback Seals, or Greenland Seals.
  • VIOLA DESMOND (19D: Businesswoman who challenged segregation at a Nova Scotia movie theater in 1946) In 1946, VIOLA DESMOND was arrested for sitting in the "whites only" section of a theater. The ensuing legal battle helped end segregation in Nova Scotia. 
  • WILLOW (47D: "Weeping" tree) My cat insists the original clue here
    was [Cat often featured on "Sally's Take on the USA Today Crossword"]. When I tried to explain to her that I highly doubted that was the case, she replied, "Meow!" (Translation: "HUMOR ME.")

    Geography review:

    It's always nice to have some INTRO MUSIC to begin my day. What a great set of theme answers here. This puzzle features diagonal symmetry; it is symmetrical across a diagonal line from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. In addition to the theme and the answers I've highlighted above, I enjoyed I'M HERE, SHE/THEY, and SEGUE. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Thursday.
    As Will hinted at in his note, The New Yorker has expanded its crossword, and is now offering a daily puzzle Monday through Friday. Will Nediger, Brooke Husic, and Paolo Pasco have been added to an already stellar slate of constructors. Good news for the crossword world!