July 1, 2022


Constructor: Rafael Musa 

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
GAME THEORY (18A: Branch of math concerned with decision-making)
GOT IN THE WAY (28A: Became an obstacle)
GOOD HAIR DAY (44A: Opportune time for selfies, perhaps)
GASTRONOMY (55A: Study of food and culture)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is surrounded by the word GAY.

Things I learned:
  • NNE (23A: Mother, in Igbo) Igbo is the language of the Igbo people, and is a national language of Nigeria. Although we've seen references to the Igbo language and people in puzzles before, this is the first time we've seen an Igbo word. I like it. It's a great acknowledgement/reminder that not all people in the world speak English (or Spanish or French). Today I've learned that NNE is mother in Igbo, and thanks to Google Translate, that NNA is father in Igbo.
  • SERENA (31A: ___ Slam (tennis achievement)) In tennis, a Grand Slam is the term used for winning all four major championships - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open - in the same calendar year. If a player wins all four championships consecutively, but not in the same calendar year, as SERENA Williams did in 2002-2003, that is referred to as a non-calendar-year Grand Slam, or a SERENA Slam. Although I did not know what a SERENA Slam was, this answer was inferable once I had a few letters from crossing answers, as I do know who SERENA Williams is.
  • TOFU (49A: Tahu gejrot ingredient) Tahu gejrot is fried TOFU served with a sweet and spicy sauce. The dish originated in Cirebon, a port city in West Java, Indonesia.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GAME THEORY (18A: Branch of math concerned with decision-making) GAME THEORY models interactions between participants in certain situations, in order to study how and why people make decisions. GAME THEORY has applications in social science, logic, systems science, and computer science.
  • GNC (37A: Abbreviation whose N stands for "non") GNC here is short for gender-NONconforming, or gender NONconformity.
  • GASTRONOMY (55A: Study of food and culture) Merriam-Webster defines GASTRONOMY as "the art or science of good eating." Doesn't that sound like a field worth studying? More broadly, the study of GASTRONOMY also includes food culture, looking at regional connections between food, tradition, and culture.
  • SCALE (62A: Kinsey ___ (sexual orientation metric)) The Kinsey SCALE, named for sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, is a way of representing sexual orientation on a spectrum between homosexuality and heterosexuality. The SCALE was groundbreaking at the time is was proposed. As with almost any metric, the Kinsey SCALE has some limitations, such as the exclusion of nonbinary people, and its focus on experience rather than identity. 
  • STONE (11D: The ___ of Hope (MLK Memorial statue)) The STONE of Hope is a granite statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is part of the MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C. The statue was carved by Lei Yixin, who was inspired by a line from MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech: "Out of the mountain of despair, a STONE of hope."
  • GOD (37D: Odin or Oshun) Odin is a GOD in Norse mythology. He is often portrayed as one-eyed, long-bearded, and wearing a cloak and broad hat. Oshun is a GOD, also known as an orisha spirit, in the Yoruba religion. She is the GODdess of love, divinity, femininity, and fertility.
  • RYE (56D: "Pastrami on ___: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli") Just reading the title of Ted Merwin's 2015 book, Pastrami on RYE: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli is making me hungry! (The picture on the cover of the book is increasing the effect.) Also, this is an example of a book title that tells you exactly what the book is about. This was a fun way to clue the word RYE.

    Geography review:

    • USSR (32A: Former Eurasian superpower) As yesterday's puzzle reminded us, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was the world's largest country from 1922 to 1991. 
    • TESLA (46D: Smiljan-born inventor Nikola) Engineer and inventor Nikola TESLA was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan in the Austrian Empire. Smiljan is now part of the country of Croatia. The Nikola Tesla Memorial Center, a historic site and museum dedicated to the inventor, is located in Smiljan, Croatia.
    The title of this puzzle made me smile, and I continued smiling during the delightful ALL-AROUND GAY solve. A great set of theme answers here. Choosing a favorite theme answer is tough, but GOOD HAIR DAY may inch ahead with its great clue [Opportune time for selfies, perhaps]. A GOOD HAIR DAY might lead to the use of #NOFILTER, another great answer. I also enjoyed I'M UP FOR IT, DADS TO BE, and RELATABLE. I appreciate that this, AN ALL-AROUND GAY PUZZLE, is the puzzle for July 1. It's a great reminder that while Pride Month celebrations are important and fabulous, Pride is ALL-AROUND and worthy of celebration year-round. Thank you, Rafa, for this puzzle that was a fabulous way to start my Friday.