April 9, 2022


Constructor: Rebecca Goldstein

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Guest blogger: Mollie Cowger

Theme answers:
CLEAR FAVORITE (20A: Candidate likely to win in a landslide)
CIRCUITOUS ROUTE (38A: Meandering path)
CITRUS GROVE (54A: Cluster of orange trees, say)

Theme synopsis:

Each theme answer is bookended (or "framed") by the word CITE, which is a synonym for "reference." 

Things I learned:

  • DIOR (33D: French fashion brand that collaborated with Amoako Boafo) DIOR collaborated with Amoako Boafo, a Ghanaian artist, on a Spring/Summer 2021 collection. You can check out some of Boafo's portraits here- I'm intrigued by the texture he uses to paint skin.
  • UCLA (7D: SoCal school that publishes The Daily Bruin) The Daily Bruin is UCLA's student newspaper. I took a quick look at their homepage to see what they've been covering, and I was tickled to learn that Disney recently released an album of lo-fi versions of some of classic songs, called "Lofi Minnie: Focus." 

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • NACHO (15A: "What do you call cheese that's not yours? ___ cheese!") I will never not chuckle at this pun. It's such a classic of the genre, and it makes for a great clue. 
  • MILK (19A: Majority of a latte) I just like this clue a lot. Something about using "majority" for food and drink feels very sweet and silly. Mac and cheese? That's majority pasta. Meanwhile, bread might only make up a plurality of a sandwich.
  • AVEENO (41A: Skin care brand) and AVEDA (53D: Brand with "Be Curly" products): It's funny to see these two in the same grid, because I'm constantly mixing them up. There's only one box in my brain for AVE- skin/hair care brands, apparently.
  • COUNT ME OUT (30D: "I'm not interested") This puzzle had a lot of nice conversational clues and answers, and this one felt like a good one to highlight. COUNT ME OUT is a perfect answer for an easy puzzle-- it's fun, evocative, and easily clued, to which I say, count me in!
  • SHO (57D: "Yellowjackets" network, for short) Look, I can't *not* take this opportunity to evangelize. "Yellowjackets" is such a good show. If you haven't watched it yet, I'm jealous of you, because you still get to experience it for the first time. I truly cannot wait for the second season to come out. 

Geography review:
  • ABU (28D: ___ Dhabi): Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and is its second-most populous city, after Dubai. 
  • OSLO (34D: Capital of Norway): Oslo is situated on an inlet of the Skagerrak, the strait that runs between Denmark and the Scandinavian peninsula.

Hi, everyone! This is Mollie, filling in for Sally to cover today's puzzle. I loved the title "Frame of Reference" for this theme. It felt slightly less straightforward than the typical USA Today title, so it took me a beat to figure out what was going on with the theme. When I did, though, it was a nice little "aha." I also appreciated that CITE was split in a different place in each of the theme answers.

I loved seeing both 1D: [Flannel shirt, e.g.] for TOP and 3D: [Flannel shirt season] for FALL at the beginning of my solve, which set a cozy vibe for the rest of the puzzle. The long down answers in the puzzle (MORE TO COME, FREELANCE, SEMICOLON, and COUNT ME OUT) are all great; the clue for SEMICOLON (10D: It makes up the eyes in a winking emoticon) is especially cute. The mirror-symmetric grid had a great flow to it, and the puzzle hit the fun-and-easy mark perfectly for me. Thanks, Rebecca, for a great start to my Saturday!