June 20, 2022


Constructors: Erik Agard & Kelsey Dixon

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
HI-TOP FADE (18A: Tall haircut with short sides)
THIRST TRAP (29A: Saucy selfie)
IT HAPPENS (47A: "Don't beat yourself up)
HITCH A RIDE (60A: Get a stranger to drive you)

Theme synopsis: The first three letters of each theme answer are H-I-T, and the position of those letters is cycling. The H begins as the first letter, then moves to second, then third, finally returning to its home position.

Things I learned:
  • MOM (23A: Charlotte, to Angelica Pickles) Since I didn't know this answer, I guess it's obvious that I have never watched the animated TV series, Rugrats, nor its continuation, All Grown Up!. In the original Rugrats series, Angelica Pickles (whose middle name is Charlotte) is the three-year-old cousin of the main characters, Tommy and Dil Pickles. As the clue informs us, Charlotte Pickles is Angelica's mom. In All Grown Up!, which first aired a year after Rugrats was discontinued, Angelica is a teenager.
  • TESS (69A: Eris Baker's "This Is Us" role) Well, I guess it's the day for admitting how many TV shows I haven't seen! This Is Us is a TV series whose sixth and final season aired this year. The show follows the lives of two parents (Rebecca and Jack) and their three children (Randall, Kate, and Kevin) across several time frames. (I have heard extremely positive things about this show from friends that have watched it.) TESS Pearson, played by Eris Baker, is the daughter of Randall.
  • DODO (10D: Flightless bird that runs the airline in Animal Crossing) Animal Crossing is a series of video games in which players assume the role of a character that explores an island and interacts with anthropomorphic animals. Earlier this year I reviewed everything crossword puzzles have taught me about Animal Crossing. (Since then I've also learned that Bells are used as currency.) Today I add to my Animal Crossing knowledge that the DODO runs the airline. There are actually two DODOs involved in running DODO Airlines, the only airline on the island. Orville DODO is the receptionist for DODO Airlines, while Wilbur DODO is a pilot. As you might expect, Orville and Wilbur are brothers. Orville and Wilbur DODO were introduced as characters in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HARP (4A: Alice Coltrane instrument) Alice Coltrane (1937-2007), also known by her adopted Sanskrit name, Turiyasangitananda, was a jazz musician and composer. She played the HARP, and was one of only a few jazz harpists. She also played keyboard and organ. Alice Coltrane was married to jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane.
  • FITS (22A: "If the shoe ___...") and ICARUS (47D: Mythical figure who flew too close to the sun) This may seem like an odd pairing of answers/clues, but I've put these two together because they both led to snippets of songs getting stuck in my head, and those songs are competing to become my earworm of the day. "If the shoe FITS, walk in it 'til your high heels break" is a line from Taylor Swift's song, "Long Story Short." And from the musical, Hamilton, the song "Burn" contains the lyric, "Do you know what Angelica said / When she read what you'd done? ? She said, 'You have married an ICARUS / He has flown too close to the sun.'"
  • NITRO (27A: ___ cold brew) NITRO cold brew is a variation of iced coffee that uses nitrogen gas to create a smooth texture and produce a head of foam.
  • DIAMONDS (9D: Rihanna's "shine bright" song) Rihanna's 2012 song, "Diamonds," begins, "Shine bright like a diamond."
  • RADIUS (30A: Earth's is about 4,000 miles) This is a very nerdy clue, so, of course, I love it! According to Space.com, the Earth's RADIUS (distance from the Earth's surface to the Earth's center) is 3,963 miles or 3,950 miles, depending upon where you measure it. (The Earth is not a perfect sphere.) The circumference of the Earth is about 24,901 miles around the Equator, and (only) 24, 860 miles is you travel pole to pole (to pole).
  • ANA (38D: "Ugly Betty" actress Ortiz) ANA Ortiz played the role of Hilda Suarez, sister of the title character, in the TV series, Ugly Betty. More recently, ANA Ortiz has played the role of Isabel Salazar, mother of the title character, in the TV series, Love, Victor.
  • PALLET (48D: Shipping platform that can be upcycled into a coffee table) This is a fun clue. It made me wonder if upcycling PALLETs into furniture is still popular. It seems like I used to see a lot of videos on social media about PALLET transformation, but I haven't seen one recently. Anyway, if you would like to make a PALLET coffee table, here's one video showing you how to do so.

    Geography review:

    • CALI (44A: Chula Vista's state, for short) Chula Vista, California (or CALI, for short) is part of the San Diego metropolitan area. The name "Chula Vista" is derived from the Spanish for "beautiful view." 
    • PAPUA (46A: ___ New Guinea) PAPUA New Guinea is a country in Oceania (the geographical region comprised of Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia). PAPUA New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea (and includes offshore islands), and is separated from Australia by the Torres Strait. The capital of PAPUA New Guinea is Port Moresby.
    • PST (19D: Tacoma time zone) Tacoma, Washington is a port city along Puget Sound. Tacoma is southwest of Seattle. 
    • TAIPEI (36D: Capital of Taiwan) TAIPEI is located in northern Taiwan. The capital's nickname is "The City of Azaleas." 
    This is a delightful and creative theme. First of all, I was excited to recognize the title - HIT FOR THE CYCLE - as something that occurs in baseball. (I even knew what it was without looking it up!) To HIT FOR THE CYCLE is to hit a single, double, triple, and home run in the same game. (If you accomplish the hits in that order, it's called a "natural cycle.") Having recognized the title, however, I did not have a guess as to how the theme would play out. When I uncovered HI-TOP FADE, I wondered if the word HIT was going to change position in the theme answers. Well, THIRST TRAP let me know that theory was incorrect. When I discovered IT HAPPENS, I had a lovely "Aha!" moment. And then HITCH A RIDE completed the CYCLE and filled out this fabulous set of theme answers. Thank you, Erik and Kelsey, for this puzzle that was such a fantastic way to begin my Monday.