March 8, 2022


Constructors: Brooke Husic & Alina Abidi

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LEAP SECOND (20A: Tiny adjustment to Coordinated Universal Time)
CURTAIN CALL (38A: Time to take a bow)
AFTER SHAVE (56A: Soothing stuff at a barbershop)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer can follow the word CLOSE to form a new phrase, giving us: CLOSE SECOND, CLOSE CALL, and CLOSE SHAVE.

And now a word from our constructors:
Alina: Always an honor and pleasure to work with Brooke and Erik! I just looked back through this puzzle to highlight a few favorite clues, but I love 'em all! Maybe I'll go with 1-Across, because I learned about the constellation by reading the Wikipedia page for EMU, and then I went to a random astronomy lecture a few weeks ago, and heard about it again, as part of a discussion on the role astronomy plays in every culture's history!
Brooke: Working with Alina is a dream! I loved her NYT last August. And +1 that I adore all of our clues! I think I like Alina's 35D clue the best, and I also love 38D (so real).

Things I learned:
  • EMU (1A: ___ in the Sky (Indigenous Australian constellation) Indigenous Australian astronomy is focused not only on the stars, but also incorporates the Milky Way and dark patches between stars. The body of EMU in the Sky is made up of a dark area of the Milky Way, and its head is a dark nebula known as the Coalsack Nebula. EMU in the Sky is visible in the Southern Hemisphere from April to June. In 2020, the Royal Australian Mint featured EMU in the Sky on a commemorative coin.
  • COM (42A: www.project562.___) Project 562 is a photography project by Matika Wilbur, a visual storyteller from the Swinish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington. In 2012, Matika Wilbur sold everything in her apartment. She then set out to visit and photograph all 562 federally recognized tribes in the United States, and get to know their stories. Her photos and stories are stunning. I encourage you to take some time to visit and explore this site. This is my favorite type of clue for COM, edu, net, or org, one that uses the opportunity to introduce solvers to a particular website.
  • ETHAN (52A: Brian Tee's "Chicago Med" role) Chicago Med is a medical drama TV series set in the ER department of the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center. Brian Tee plays the role of Dr. ETHAN Choi, the Chief of Emergency Medicine and a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LEAP SECOND (20A: Tiny adjustment to Coordinated Universal Time) Due to irregularities in the Earth's rotation as a result of climatic and geological events, there are occasional slight differences between International Atomic Time ("precise time" as measured by atomic clocks) and Coordinated Universal Time ("observed solar time"). To address these changes, occasionally at the end of a month (usually June or December), a LEAP SECOND will be added to Coordinated Universal Time. 
  • MOUSE (41A: Rodent such as Geronimo Stilton) Geronimo Stilton is the MOUSE protagonist of the Geronimo Stilton chapter books written by Elisabetta Dami (using the pen name Geronimo Stilton). In the books, Geronimo Stilton is the editor and publisher of The Rodent's Gazette.
  • TWOS (67A: Highest digits in base three) A base three, or ternary numeral system uses only zeroes, ones, and TWOS.
  • MIRENA (2D: Hormonal IUD brand) The MIRENA IUD (intrauterine device) releases the hormone levonorgestrel into the uterus. It is used for birth control and the treatment of heavy menstrual periods. It is also used preventatively in those on estrogen replacement therapy to prevent excessive buildup of the uterine lining.
  • NIGHT OWL (10D: Person who isn't an early bird) Are you a NIGHT OWL or an early bird? Even when I attempt to be a NIGHT OWL and stay up late, I'm still an early bird, so then I'm just tired.
  • DOG EARS (11D: Folded corners in a book) I imagine this answer might have been painful for solvers that feel strongly book pages should never have DOG EARS. I have been known to use DOG EARS occasionally, but my preferred book mark is an unused Kleenex, much to my family's amusement.  Wherever I'm reading, there's almost always a box of tissues nearby. The bonus of this method is then having a tissue handy when I resume reading.
  • IPA (30D: System of speech sound notation (Abbr.) Here, IPA stands not for India pale ale as we often see it clued, but rather the International Phonetic Alphabet, a system of phonetic notation based on the Latin alphabet.
  • PETE (55D: Trumpeter Minger (whose first name is hidden in this clue)) PETE Minger was a jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist. He was a featured soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1970 to 1980.

    Geography review:

    • RICO (18A: Puerto ___) Puerto RICO is a Caribbean island located about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. San Juan is the capital of Puerto RICO.
    • ORE (33D: State south of Washington (Abbr.) Time for a Geography Quiz! In addition to Washington, what other states border OREgon? Answer at the end of this write-up.
    • RIVER (59A: Changjiang or Mekong) The Changjiang (also known as the Chang Jiang, or Yangtze), which flows through China, is the largest RIVER in ASIA. The Mekong RIVER, which flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, is the third largest RIVER in ASIA. In case this has you wondering, China's Yellow RIVER is the second longest RIVER in ASIA.
    • ASIA (62A: Its largest island is Borneo) The island of Borneo is home to three countries: Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. This is the first puzzle appearance of ASIA this month.
    Whew! THAT WAS CLOSE! The theme that is, the solve was silky smooth and enjoyable. A solid set of theme answers today. In addition to the answers highlighted above, I liked SPONGY, DEEP CUT, GOD TIER, and HOT YOGA. Many of today's clues made me smile, including SIM (35D: Computer game character that might be "Hot-Headed" or "Unflirty") and COME OVER (38D: "I want to see you but I don't want to leave my place"). This puzzle was a great way to begin my Tuesday.

    Answer to Geography Quiz: In addition to Washington, Idaho, California, and Nevada also border OREgon.