March 4, 2022


Constructor: Kate Chin Park

Editor: Erik Agard

Guest Blogger: Brooke Husic

Theme Answers:
HOT AND STICKY (19A: Like humid summer air)
SWEET VALLEY HIGH (36A: Book series featuring teenagers Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield)
MOVIE MUSICAL (56A: ​​"Enchanted" or "Encanto")

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer ends with a kind of NOTE: STICKY note, HIGH note, MUSICAL note.

And now a word from our constructors: 
Kate: As I hope everyone would assume, this theme gave me a lot of joy, because of the (imo) fun theme entries overall but *especially* because of SWEET VALLEY HIGH. At the age that I'm pretty sure a lot of brilliant crossword constructors were reading "The Westing Game" for the 12th time and writing their first puzzles, I was weaving plastic lanyard and knee-deep in Sweet Valley and similar books, wondering which characters I was closest to (answer: Elizabeth with Jessica tendencies).
In more crosswordy terms, coming up with types of NOTES that all meant very different things, and ending up with bonus entries in ESCAPE PLAN and OBGYN, were my favorite parts of making this puzzle. Extra thanks for Erik's clue editing on this one; any that you like are almost certain to be his.

Things I learned:
  • SWEET VALLEY HIGH (36A: Book series featuring teenagers Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield) This series was new to me (although I only read “The Westing Game” once). I read some of the goodreads reviews and several reviewers talk about how this series created unrealistic expectations for them about high school; other reviewers credit the series with turning them into avid readers.
  • ELSE (63A: "What ___ Can I Do?" (song from "Encanto")) I haven’t seen the MOVIE MUSICAL Encanto (yet)! This is a duette between Isabelle (Diane Guerrero) and Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), in which Isabelle wonders what she’d have the power to achieve and be if she weren’t held back by expectations of perfection. 
  • CATHY (1D: "Minor Feelings" author ___ Park Hong) Cathy Park Hong is a writer known for her mixed language poetry in English and Korean. "Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning" is a collection of essays that are part memoir, part cultural criticism, and part history. The essays cover topics such as Park Hong’s relationships to the English language, poetry, depression, and female friendship.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ERA (42A: Atlantic ___ (period of Aretha Franklin's career)) Aretha Franklin’s Atlantic ERA is when she was working with Atlantic Records in the ‘60s and includes some of her biggest hits like "Respect" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
  • SAAG (24D: Food eaten during Lohri) Saag is a leafy green dish often made with mustard greens. Lohri is an end-of-winter celebration and an official holiday in Punjab.
  • IRL (28D: Opposite of online, for short) I don’t like this term! I personally find online (e.g., iming, video chatting) to be "real life" — I have spent lots of time doing virtual social things both in the recent past and when I’ve lived abroad, and consider that real. I would prefer to contrast real life with fiction, not with virtual interactions.
Geography review:
  • EST (11D: D.C. time zone) Washington, D.C. has more residents than Vermont and Wyoming, but has no voting delegates in Congress. Per, "The United States is the only nation in the world with a representative, democratic constitution that denies voting representation in the national legislature to citizens of the capital."
  • HOOSIERS (41D: People from Indiana) The origin of the term "Hoosiers" is unknown.
  • ALASKA (50D: State name from the Unangam Tunuu "alaxsxaq") Unangam Tunuu is spoken in the Aleutian Islands and other parts of Alaska. It has an Eastern, Atkan, and Western dialect, the last of which is now extinct.
Happy Friday! I really enjoyed Kate’s puzzle this morning. My favorite theme answer was MOVIE MUSICAL and I found the long fill that wasn’t part of the theme and 5-6-6-6 corners especially fun. I also liked all the L-shapes in the grid, the "Encanto" connection in the MOVIE MUSICAL and ELSE clues, and the parallel clues for ELLA and SHE. This puzzle was a great way to start my day.

xoxo, Brooke