June 24, 2022


Constructor: Rebecca Goldstein

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
QUITTING TIME (20A: End of the workday)
QUEER THEORY (38A: Field of study that challenges heteronormativity)
QUICK THINKER (55A: Fast problem-solver)

Theme synopsis: Today's title is interpreted phonetically. CUTIES becomes QTs, and each theme answer has the initials QT.

Things I learned:
  • ASEXUAL (24A: The A in AVEN) AVEN is The ASEXUAL Visibility & Education Network, an online network founded in 2001. AVEN's goals are to create public acceptance and discussion of asexuality, and to facilitate the growth of an asexual community.
  • LYDIA (32A: Golfer Ko) Lydia Ko was the youngest player to be ranked number one in professional golf. She was 17 years, 9 months, and 9 days old on February 2, 2015 when she achieved that ranking. LYDIA Ko was also the youngest person to win an LPGA Tour event, which she did at the age of 15. LYDIA Ko was born in Korea, moved to New Zealand with her family when she was four, and has been a New Zealand citizen since she was 12 years old.
  • NORA (61A: One of the White House Trio in "Red, White & Royal Blue") Red, White & Royal Blue is the debut novel (and New York Times best-seller) of romance author, Casey McQuiston. I learned about Casey McQuiston last month when I wrote about her second book, One Last Stop. (I did not, however, take note of her first book, Red, White & Royal Blue, which might -or might not - have helped me today.) The White House Trio in Red, White & Royal Blue is comprised of the children of the first U.S. female president, First Son and First Daughter Alex and June Claremont-Diaz, along with the granddaughter of the Vice President (and June's girlfriend), NORA Holleran. Red, White & Royal Blue is currently being adapted into a movie.
  • TAO (22D: Mathematician Terence) Terence TAO is a professor of mathematics at UCLA, and is regarded as one of the greatest living mathematicians. He has been called the "Mozart of math." Terence TAO has won a number of awards, including a Fields Medal (described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics) and a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. Terence TAO has authored a number of math textbooks, and writes a blog on mathematical topics
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SPROUT (8A: Brussels ___) I often have to remind myself this vegetable is named Brussels SPROUT (named for Brussels, Belgium), and not Brussel SPROUT. I used to dislike Brussels SPROUTs, but that has changed, and I credit Dutch scientists for that. It's not my imagination, current varieties of Brussels SPROUTs really are less bitter than those I ate (reluctantly) in my childhood. Science is amazing.
  • ELOISE (16A: Kidlit character with a pet turtle named Skipperdee) In the ELOISE books written by Kay Thompson, ELOISE is a young girl that lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York City. ELOISE lives with her nanny, her dog (a pug named Weenie), and her turtle, Skipperdee.
  • MULLET (19A: "Business in the front, party in the back" hairstyle) If you're interested in who coined the term MULLET, or learning about the USA MULLET Championships, check out what I wrote about this "business in the front, party in the back" hairstyle last month.
  • QUEER THEORY (38A: Field of study that challenges heteronormativity) In challenging heteronormativity, QUEER THEORY acknowledges there is a broad spectrum of sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This made me think of the snippet of phone conversation I overheard the other day; I was walking by someone talking on the phone just as they said, "I know, normal is a setting on the dryer."
  • SATURN (58A: Planet with dusty rings) SATURN's rings are made of ice, dust, and rocks. Scientists have studied the dust of SATURN's rings to gain insight about the age of the rings. Science is not only amazing, but endlessly fascinating!
  • GODIVA (3D: Belgian chocolate brand) and SEMI-SWEET (8D: Like some baking chocolate) My craving for chocolate is not dependent on its appearance in the crossword, but two chocolate-related clues definitely have me thinking about what chocolatey treat I'd like to eat today. Maybe some cookies made with GODIVA SEMI-SWEET chocolate chips?
  • CACTI (4D: Prickly pear plants) When my family hiked down into
    Blooming prickly pear cactus
    the Grand Canyon in April, we saw a number of CACTI, including prickly pear. We were there at a great time, when a lot of plants were flowering, including the prickly pear CACTI.
  • BORN (6D: "I was ___ at night, but not last night") This is a fun way to clue BORN. This idiom is a way to say that one is not naive. And, I was indeed BORN at night...but not last night.
  • BURST (52D: Popped like a bubble) and SHRED (53D: Destroy like documents) There's a bit of destruction going on in this section of the grid.
  • AHA (59D: "I figured it out!") Did you have an "AHA!" moment during today's solve?

    Geography review:

    • ARI (43A: The Grand Canyon State, on scoreboards) The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, and one of Arizona's nicknames is The Grand Canyon State. If you see ARI on the scoreboard, you might be watching the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), or the Arizona Coyotes (NHL). Arizona is also home to WNBA and NBA teams, but neither of those teams (Phoenix Mercury) and Phoenix Suns) use the state's name.
    • LAS (27D: The L in UNLV) The University of LAS Vegas is located in Paradise, Nevada (adjacent to LAS Vegas). Food Network star, Guy Fieri, is a UNLV alum.
    • DES MOINES (34D: Iowa's capital) Hey, I knew this one! Although we've seen DES in the puzzle a few times, this is the first time since I've been blogging that we've seen DES MOINES in its entirety. DES MOINES is named for the DES MOINES River, on which it is located. In addition to being the capital of Iowa, DES MOINES is the state's largest city. To provide a little perspective, however, it would take 40 cities the size of DES MOINES (population approximately 215,000) to equal one New York City (population approximately 8.8 million).
    You know you have a crossword brain when you read CUTIES, and your mind immediately thinks, "Hmmm, QTs, perhaps?" Today my mind was right, and it was fun to uncover these great CUTIES, I mean QTs, that are today's theme answers. I also enjoyed the clue for JAG (40D: Car minus the "uar"). Today's grid is a pangram, that is it contains each letter of the alphabet at least once. I don't usually pay much attention to pangrams, but with multiple Qs, I was impressed that the puzzle also included other challenging letters: J, X, and Z. A testament to the constructing and editing skill that the fill is smooth, just as we see every day in the USA Today puzzle. Thanks Rebecca, for this QT puzzle that was a delightful way to begin my Friday.