April 29, 2022


Constructors: Mikkel Snyder & Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
ELECTRIC ARCHES (20A: 2017 Eve Ewing book)
BBC ARABIC (30A: Radio service based in London and Cairo)
YUCCA ROOT (45A: Material for the ball in a Keshjee ceremony)
MONICA RAMBEAU (55A: Character played by Teyonah Parris in "WandaVision")

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is FILLed with and AUTO in that it contains the word CAR.

And now a word from our constructors:
Mikkel: Brooke and I are back with our second crossword, putting the number of crosswords I thought I'd have this year to be about two more than I ever expected. The seed started with finding a good angle on 20A, and after some iterations we found some nice accompanying clues and went from there. I'm particularly fond of 4D, 29A, 9D, and 46D and continue to have a great appreciation for Brooke's expertise and skills when it comes to fully realizing the grid.
Bellchime and Metronome

No cat clues this time, but Bellchime and Metronome remain key members of our collaboration process and want their contributions noted.
Brooke: I'm overjoyed to share a byline again with Mikkel! We had a great time creating this one. Like Mikkel said, we started with 20A and found a theme for it -- and we were super happy to discover 55A when we were looking for other theme answers. My favorite clues not yet mentioned are 14A, 61A, and 5D. And I'm happy to share that as of a week ago, the number of crosswords Mikkel will have this year will be at least three!

Things I learned:
  • ELECTRIC ARCHES (20A: 2017 Eve Ewing book) I have previously written about sociologist, author, poet, visual artist, and University of Chicago assistant professor Eve Ewing, but I did not know the title of her 2017 book, so needed the help of crossing answers. On Eve Ewing's website, ELECTRIC ARCHES is described as "an imaginative exploration of black girlhood and womanhood through poetry, visual art, and narrative prose." ELECTRIC ARCHES was Eve Ewing's debut book. 
  • YUCCA ROOT (45A: Material for the ball in a Keshjee ceremony) Keshjee, also referred to as the Navajo Shoe Game, is a ceremony held in winter that involves hiding a ball made from YUCCA ROOT in one of several moccasins. The ritual involves songs and teaches lessons about animals, day and night, and making choices. 
  • AFROPOP (43D: Angelique Kidjo genre) Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Angelique Kidjo is fluent in five languages - Fon, French, Yorùbá, Gen, and English - and she sings in all of them. Her AFROPOP musical style is diverse, and contains elements of Caribbean zouk, Congolese rumba, gospel, the music of Latin America, funk, R&B, and jazz. Angelique Kidjo was part of the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Summer Olympics (held in 2021).
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ORCA (14A: Black-and-white creature like Fin the Whale) The anthropomorphic ORCA, Fin the Whale, is the mascot of NHL's Vancouver Canucks. This is an excellent clue, because it contains enough information for solvers to be successful, even if they are not familiar with Fin the Whale. And those solvers that do know of Fin the Whale get the enjoyment of seeing the mascot mentioned in the crossword. 
  • NI HAO (16A: Mandarin "hello") NI HAO is an informal Chinese greeting. We've seen it in the puzzle previously, and I've been working on remembering it and being able to fill it in without the assistance of crossing answers. Today I was successful!
  • EEL (29A: "Shock me like an electric ___" (MGMT lyric)) Similar to the clue for ORCA, this clue for EEL allows solvers to be successful whether or not they are familiar with the rock band MGMT, and their 2008 song, "Electric Feel." 
  • BBC ARABIC (30A: Radio service based in London and Cairo) The radio programs of BBC ARABIC, broadcast from BBC headquarters in London and a BBC Bureau in Cairo, are in Modern Standard ARABIC. The radio broadcasts started in 1938. As of 2008, BBC ARABIC also operates a satellite TV channel.
  • WEBBY (34A: Internet award (or a name for a pet spider)) The WEBBY Awards are presented annually by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences to honor excellence on the Internet. I liked the pet spider hint in this clue.
  • ARE (41A: "You ___ just the best!") and HEAR (5D: "Great to ___ your voice!") I'm feeling quite uplifted and supported by this puzzle! I hope you are as well.
  • MONICA RAMBEAU (55A: Character played by Teyonah Parris in "WandaVision") WandaVision is a TV miniseries featuring Marvel Comics characters. The series begins with events occurring three weeks after the action of the 2019 movie, Avengers: Endgame. Teyonah Parris will reprise her role of MONICA RAMBEAU in the movie, The Marvels, scheduled to be released in 2023. 
  • MANCALA (4D: Board game sometimes played with shells) MANCALA is a two-player strategy board game. The game can be played with a specific game board, or simply by marking out a board on the ground or other surface. Game tokens may be shells, small stones, beans, seeds, or marbles. There is evidence of MANCALA being played as early as the second and third centuries.
  • UNSCREW (9D: Do "lefty loosey" on) Every single time I face a screw or a cap I have to repeat, "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" to myself. I'm grateful for this mnemonic that reminds me which way to turn to UNSCREW items.
  • E-BOY (27D: Goth-inspired aesthetic) I have previously written about the E-BOY and e-girl look
  • ATOM 46D: Particle that's Ryan Choi's superhero name) Ryan Choi, whose alter ego is ATOM, is a DC Comics superhero that first appeared in DCU: Brave New World #1 in August 2006. This clue provides a hint for solvers by using the word "particle."

    Geography review:

    • SAO (23A: ___ Paulo, Brazil) SAO Paulo, Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) categorizes SAO Paulo as an alpha global city, one that plays an important role in the global economic network.
    • ASIA (67A: The Philippines' continent) The Philippines is a country in Southeast ASIA made up of about 7,640 islands. The capital of the Philippines is Manila. This is the sixth appearance this month for our crossword-friend ASIA. Since I started blogging, there's only been one other month (July 2020) that ASIA appeared six times. If ASIA is in tomorrow's puzzle, it could set a new record. Stay tuned... By the way, this has absolutely no significance other than appealing to my love of data and record keeping. It is simply one of the ways I entertain myself as I write this daily blog.
    • BALI (6D: Indonesian island) A province of Indonesia, BALI includes the island of BALI as well as a few smaller neighboring islands.
    • USA (60D: Iowa's country) This happened to be the last answer I filled in, and it was a fun way to end. Hello from Iowa! I'm not a native, but since I've lived here for over two-thirds of my life now, it is my home. 
    On my phone, I consider AUTO FILL a mixed blessing. It saves me time, but also always insists I mean "we're" when I actually mean "were." However, in today's puzzle, AUTO FILL is strictly positive, providing the opportunity to find four CARs hidden in a nice set of theme answers. I did not write about the entry PINHOLE (10D: ___ camera) because I've geeked out about that entry previously. However, I do want to mention that World PINHOLE Photography Day was a week ago. Check out the Gallery here
    (Okay, so I did actually write about it...) As I mentioned in my highlights, I really enjoyed the cluing today; so many examples of clues that highlight specific information, but also allow all solvers to be successful. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Friday.