June 26, 2022

Title: MEET UP

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
COMMITTEE MEMBER (3D: Chairperson, e.g.)
STATE EMPLOYEE (5D: Community health worker, e.g.)
TEE MARKER (36D: Indicator at the start of a golf hole)

Theme synopsis: Each vertical theme answer contains the letter string T-E-E-M, which when read UP, spells the word MEET.

Things I learned:
  • DOCS (1A: Most Amy Berg films, for short) Amy Berg is a filmmaker known for her DOCS, or documentaries. Her 2006 documentary, Deliver Us from Evil, is about sex abuse in the Catholic church. That film won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay. Amy Berg's other DOCS include An Open Secret (2014 - about child sexual abuse in the California film industry), Prophet's Prey (2015 - about Warren Jeffs, the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), and Phoenix Rising (2022 - about Evan Rachel Wood).
  • SEGA (29A: Publisher of the video game Yakuza) Yakuza is a Japanese media franchise owned by SEGA. The Yakuza video games are set in fictional districts that are based on actual locations in Japan. The game's storylines are typically crime dramas inspired by yakuza movies. (Yakuza are Japanese organized crime syndicates.)
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ANT (27A: Insect seen in the word "Antarctica" but not on the continent of Antarctica) It's true; ANTs are found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • DATE (35A: Fruit consumed for Iftar) Iftar is the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily fast during the month of Ramadan. Traditionally, three DATEs are eaten to break the fast.
  • SPOT TEST (45A: Quick means of gathering data) A SPOT TEST may be used in chemistry, microbiology, or forensics to obtain information from one or a few drops of solution. Even with my science background, I required the help from crossing answers to figure this one out.
  • MEN (49A: Chess pieces) and PAWN (58D: Weakest chess piece) Okay, I know chess pieces are commonly called chessMEN, but what about the queen?! Although I don't remember the last time I actually played chess, I do know how, so I knew the PAWN, with its ability to only move forward one square at a time (and only capture diagonally adjacent pieces), is the weakest piece.
  • SHE (50A: "All That ___ Carried" (Tiya Miles book) All That SHE Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake, is a 2021 book by historian, Tiya Miles. I learned about this book from the September 27, 2021 puzzle. The nonfiction book was inspired by an inscription on a cotton sack, which I wrote about in that previous post. 
  • HEMP SEED (57A: Crunchy yogurt topper) I first tried "granola" and "oatmeal," neither of which fit, so I went on and waited for some help from crossing answers.
  • ALBA (62A: "Machete" actress Jessica) Machete is a 2010 action movie. The title character is from the movies in the Spy Kids franchise. Jessica ALBA plays the role of immigrations officer, Santana Rivera. I haven't seen this movie, but if a Jessica is referenced and the answer is four letters, ALBA is usually a safe bet.
  • ERICA (63A: Gospel artist Campbell) Sisters ERICA Campbell and Tina Atkins-Campbell perform together as the gospel duo Mary Mary. Each of the sisters also has a solo career. ERICA Campbell's most recent single, released this year, is titled "Positive."
  • OREO (2D: Sister Brand of Chips Ahoy!) OREO and Chips Ahoy! are both marketed by Nabisco, which is a subsidiary of Mondel─ôz International, a multinational food and beverage company based in Chicago. 
  • CAPED (19D: "Batman: The ___ Crusader") Batman: The CAPED Crusader is an action-adventure video game, and the "CAPED Crusader" is a common nickname for Batman. HBO Max and Cartoon Network are working on an animated Batman series titled Batman: CAPED Crusader. I'm not sure where my head was this morning, because when I had "_A_ED" filled in from crossing answers, my first thought was "hated"...oops, that seemed a little harsh.
  • ADA (27D: Historian Palmer) ADA Palmer is a historian and an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago. She's also the author of the science fiction Terra Ignota series. The first book in that series is Too Like Lightning. The last time I wrote about ADA Palmer, I mentioned that Too Like Lightning was on my "to be read" pile. Happy to report that I have now read it! I enjoyed it a lot. It's a dense read, but has many interesting concepts and ideas.

    Geography review:

    • SCOT (9A: Great Highland bagpiper, often) The instrument known as the Great Highland bagpipe is native to Scotland. This type of bagpipe is often associated with military and civilian pipe bands, and as the clue informs us, is often played by a SCOT.
    • IDA (22A: Neighbor of Wyo.) Time for a Geography Quiz! In addition to IDAho, which borders Wyoming to the west, can you name the other five states that border Wyoming? The answer is found at the end of this blog post.
    • ERIE (71A: Great Lake with the shortest retention) A lake's retention time - also known as flushing time - is the measure of the time water spends in the lake. Lake ERIE's retention time is 2.6 years. 
    This was one of those days when the title lets us know exactly what to expect; that's not necessarily a bad thing. Even though the theme was as expected, I ran into several snags while solving. Nothing major, and all easily sorted out; perhaps I just wasn't awake yet. My favorite answer is the sassy DO THE MATH (32A: "Figure it out yourself!") I also enjoyed ARE WE CLEAR and STEP ON IT. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a fine way to start my Sunday.

    Answer to Geography Quiz: In addition to Idaho, the states bordering Wyoming are Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana.