April 13, 2022

 Title: A-Listers

Constructor: Ada Nicolle

Editor: Erik Agard

Guest Blogger: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Theme Answers:

AJA NAOMI KING (18A: "How to Get Away With Murder" actress)

ANA DE ARMAS (33A: "Knives Out" actress)

ASA BUTTERFIELD (14D: "Sex Education" actor)

Theme synopsis: The answers are full names of movie and TV stars whose first names follow an A_A pattern... just like today's constructor!

Things I learned:

  • TOFU (37A: Soft ingredient in sundubu-jjigae) Sundubu-jjigae is a soft TOFU stew. The sun in sundubu means "pure" in Korean, and this extra soft tofu is usually sold in tubes.
  • ADAMS (45A: Native rights activist Hank) Born on a reservation in Montana and based primarily in Washington state, Hank ADAMS was a successful strategist and negotiator who helped assert and protect Native American fishing and hunting rights on traditional territories.
  • SATIRE (7D: Genre for The Squeaky Wheel and The Onion) The Squeaky Wheel is a satirical publication focused on exploring the political, economic, and social nature of disability. The Onion is a digital media company that publishes satirical articles on international, national, and local news. While I was already familiar with The Onion, I'm glad to have learned about The Squeaky Wheel!

Random thoughts and interesting things:

  • NCAA (13A: #Not___Property (2021 college athlete protest)) #NotNCAAProperty has sought to underscore concerns from college athletes that the NCAA too often treats them like dollar signs rather than people. Players have pushed for the association to permit them to earn money for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsement and personal appearances.
  • ANA DE ARMAS (33A: "Knives Out" actress) Maybe this is a bit crossword insider-y, but many commentators have noted that ANA has been clued as ["Knives Out" actress de Armas] at a very high rate over the last few years—I wonder if this choice of clue is a wink to that. Regardless, I love that we get to see her full name here in all its glory.
  • ROOMBA (16D: Vacuum sometimes treated as a pet) I laughed out loud when I saw this clue! If a little mechanical critter is roaming around underfoot all the time, I'd say that's extremely pet-like behavior.

Geography review:

  • SERBIA (29A: Belgrade's country) SERBIA is a landlocked country in the Balkans in Southeast Europe. Some notable Serbians include inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, as well as conceptual and performance artist Marina Abramović.
  • TAMPA (27D: ___ Bay, Florida). TAMPA Bay is located on the west central Florida coast, on a large natural harbor connected to the Gulf of Mexico. It's also home to the Buccaneers and the Rays sports teams.
Hi, readers! I'm Enrique Henestroza Anguiano, back for another guest blogging spot here at Sally's Take. Today's puzzle from Ada Nicolle was a delight! I loved the three black "stair stacks" in non-symmetrical arrangements, giving an almost Escher-like vibe to the grid. The subtle sense of humor in the clues throughout the puzzle really appealed to me as well: The EMOJIS clue with emoticons getting autocorrected, the (shocking for this millennial) realization that the '90s happened DECADES AGO, the visual of a parent asking "Watcha doin?" to a kid with a guilty look on their face who responds "NOTHIN...", or the act of putting a LABEL on a relationship by deciding to call someone your "boyfriend."

Thanks to Ada for the fun solve, and thanks to Sally for the opportunity to blog here again! And readers, please consider supporting Sally's Take, if you're able, by clicking that yellow button.