March 6, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
GEORGE SAND (17A: French novelist played by Judy Davis in "Impromptu")
SOJOURNER TRUTH (37A: Activist who, contrary to popular belief, most likely didn't say "Ain't I a woman?" in her 1851 speech)
JERRY RICE (63A: NFL Hall of Fame from Crawford, Mississippi)

Theme synopsis:
The last word of each theme answer is GRAINY. We have a GRAIN of SAND, a GRAIN of TRUTH, and a GRAIN of RICE.

Things I learned:
  • GEORGE SAND (17A: French novelist played by Judy Davis in "Impromptu") GEORGE SAND was the pen name of Amandine Lucile Aurore Dupin, a French writer of the European Romantic Era. At the time she lived (1804-1876), women were required to apply for a permit to wear male clothing. GEORGE SAND did not apply for a permit, but wore male clothing in public, feeling it was less expensive and more comfortable than the typical dress of noblewomen. She also discovered male clothing gave her increased access to venues where women were not allowed. In the 1991 movie, Impromptu, Judy Davis plays the role of GEORGE SAND, and Hugh Grant plays the role of Frederic Chopin.
  • TRE (28A: ___ flip (skateboarding trick)) When executing a TRE flip, also known as a 360 flip, the skateboard spins 360 degrees in mid-air along the horizontal and vertical axes. 
  • SOCCER (49D: Trinity Rodman's sport) Trinity Rodman is a professional soccer player for National Women's Soccer League's (NWSL) Washington Spirit. She is the youngest player to be drafted in NWSL history, being drafted by the Washington Spirit in 2021 when she was 18 years old. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ROBE (1A: Dragon ___ (Chinese emperor's outfit)) As you might guess, Dragon ROBEs are decorated with dragon symbols. Dragon ROBEs were the everyday dress of Chinese emperors, and were seen as a symbol of power.
  • EATS (21A: Enjoys a youtiao) I learned from the November 22, 2020 that youtiao are deep-fried strips of dough. Youtiao are also called Chinese cruller, Chinese fried churro, Chinese doughnut, or Chinese oil stick.
  • SOJOURNER TRUTH (37A: Activist who, contrary to popular belief, most likely didn't say "Ain't I a woman?" in her 1851 speech) SOJOURNER TRUTH was an abolitionist and women's rights activist. In 1851, she delivered a speech at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio. The phrase, "Ain't I a woman?" appeared in a transcript of the speech that was published 12 years after SOJOURNER TRUTH spoke, but does not appear in a transcript of the speech published just a month after the convention. Scholars debate whether SOJOURNER TRUTH actually said the phrase.
  • JERRY RICE (63A: NFL Hall of Fame from Crawford, Mississippi) JERRY RICE was born in Starkville, Mississippi and grew up in Crawford. He spent most of his NFL career playing for the San Francisco 49ers. I learned about JERRY RICE when he was a theme answer in the June 28, 2020. JERRY RICE was also a theme answer in the June 23, 2021 and September 26, 2021 puzzles. Fun fact: Like today's puzzle, all three of the previous puzzles that featured JERRY RICE as a theme answer were constructed by Zhouqin Burnikel.
  • SOUR (33D: Like the taste of yuzu) It's only been a few days since we saw the citrus fruit, yuzu, mentioned in a clue.
  • ABS (46D: Muscles used while doing deadbugs) Here's a video demonstrating how to do a dead bug, if you'd like to exercise your ABS.

    Geography review:

    • PALO (19A: With 16-Across, California tech hub) and ALTO (16A: See 19-Across) PALO ALTO, California is a city in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
    • PESOS (25D: Cuban coins) The currency of Cuba is the Cuban PESO.
    • ERIE (60D: Fourth-largest Great Lake) Lake ERIE makes its first crossword appearance of March 2022. The Great Lakes listed from largest to smallest, are Superior, Huron, Michigan, ERIE, and Ontario.
    Quite the GRAINY BUNCH of theme answers today. Interesting to note that DUNES (52D: Desert mounds) are composed of many GRAINs of SAND. In addition to the answers highlighted above, I also liked BOOMER, CLASS ACT, and JALAPENO. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Sunday morning.
    Many thanks to Brooke Husic and Norah Sharpe for guest blogging the last two days! I always enjoy reading someone else's take on the puzzle.