June 17, 2022


Constructor: Claire Rimkus

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
SOCCER TEAM (3D: Orlando Pride, e.g.) 
GRAPH PAPER (8D: Algebra notebook sheets)
PINE NEEDLE (29D: Christmas tree dropping)
ALARM CLOCK (32D: Device with a snooze button)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each vertical (DOWN) theme answer can precede the word WORK. Let's GET DOWN TO some: TEAMWORK, PAPERWORK, NEEDLEWORK, and CLOCKWORK.

Things I learned:
  • ART (34A: Calligraffiti, e.g.) Although it was easy to figure out this answer, Calligraffiti is a new term to me. The ART, as you might expect, combines aspects of calligraphy and graffiti. Check out this site to see some examples of Calligraffiti.
  • SHANE (43A: Kate Moennig's character on "The L Word") Although I know of The L Word, the TV series that originally aired from 2004-2009, I wasn't familiar enough with the cast to recall that Kate Moennig played the role of SHANE McCutcheon.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • NOSE (1A: Cat part with a unique print) You know it's going to be a great puzzle
    when the first clue is cat-related! Willow helpfully came to supervise my writing this morning, allowing me to take a photo of her NOSE (and face). Every cat's NOSE has a unique pattern of bumps and ridges, similar to human fingerprints. 
  • CHAMELEON (56A: Lizard with prominent eyes) A CHAMELEON's prominent eyes allow it to have an unrestricted view in any direction without moving its head.
  • SOCCER TEAM (3D: Orlando Pride, e.g.) The Orlando Pride is a professional SOCCER TEAM that joined the National Women's SOCCER League in 2016. Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida is the TEAM's home ARENA (28D: Large event space).
  • DIP (25D: Mutabal or queso, e.g.) Mutabal is a DIP made from roasted eggplant combined with olive oil, lemon juice, seasonings, and tahini. Queso (the Spanish word for "cheese") is a cheese DIP. I would not say no to either of these DIPs.
  • NEZ PERCE (41D: People also known as the Nimiipuu) The NEZ PERCE are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The NEZ PERCE call themselves Nimiipuu, which means "the people" in their language.
  • DNA (66D: Genetic material sequenced by PCR) PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction, a method used to rapidly replicate a DNA sample, allowing it to be studied in detail. Hooray for science in crossword puzzles!

    Geography review:

    • PISA (35A: Leaning Tower city) The Leaning Tower of PISA in Italy is known for its famous slant. The tower is a campanile - a freestanding bell tower - that houses seven bells. Its nearly 4° lean is a result of a soft foundation. Amazingly, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has survived at least four strong earthquakes. Scientists discovered that the same soft soil that caused the tower to lean influences the tower's ability to withstand earthquakes. I went down a bit of a rabbit hole reading about the Leaning Tower of PISA, and began looking at other leaning buildings. There's the Leaning Tower of Suurhusen in Germany, which until 2010 held the Guinness World Record for the most tilted tower in the world. That title was usurped by the Capital Gate building in Abu Dhabi, which was constructed to lean at an 18° angle. And then there's the Leaning Tower of Wanaka in New Zealand, which is part of an attraction called Puzzling World. Did you know about Puzzling World?! Another reason to add New Zealand to my travel list.
    • TULIP (37A: Turkey's national flower) Although the TULIP is often associated with Holland, the flower is native to Turkey. The name "TULIP" is derived from the Turkish word for "turban," which the shape of the flower resembles.
    • AMAZON (48A: Rainforest home to the Goliath birdeater spider) The AMAZON rainforest is located in South America. Most of the AMAZON rainforest is located in Brazil (60%), Peru (13%), and Colombia (10%), with minor amounts in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela. As the clue informs us, the AMAZON is the home to the quite-scary-sounding Goliath birdeater spider. This member of the tarantula family is the largest spider in the world by mass. (The largest spider by leg span is the giant huntsman spider.) Goliath birdeating spiders can weigh up to 6 ounces and have a body length of five inches. Despite the spider's name, it does not routinely eat birds. The name is a result of an 18th-century copper engraving that showed the spider eating a hummingbird. More commonly, it eats other arthropods, worms, and amphibians. They have also been seen feeding on rodents, lizards, and snakes.
    • LOA (23D: Mauna ___) Mauna LOA is one of five volcanoes that form the island of Hawai'i. I was thankful to have filled this answer in from crossing answers before I came to it, as another of those five volcanoes is named Mauna Kea (also three letters ending in A).
    • SINAI (33D: Peninsula home to many Bedouins) The SINAI Peninsula is the only part of Egypt located in Asia. (The remainder of Egypt is in Africa.) The Mediterranean Sea lies to the north of the SINAI Peninsula, and the Red Sea is located to its south. Bedouins are a nomadic Arab people that have historically inhabited the desert regions of the SINAI Peninsula, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and Mesopotamia.

     Time to GET DOWN TO WORK, and since my WORK is blogging about crossword puzzles, I'm in luck, because this one is delightful. As I'm reviewing a puzzle before I start writing, I'll sometimes make a note of clues I especially enjoyed. Today I found myself marking so many clues, that it's fair to say I enjoyed the cluing in this puzzle. A few highlights: YODA (18A: Talk like this, he does), CROC (55A: Creature in pursuit of Captain Hook, for short), DYED (65A: Like some blond hair), and TUBA (11D: Brass instrument that weighs around 30 pounds). Thank you, Claire, for this puzzle that was a fabulous way to begin my Friday.