Title: EDIT DOWN
Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Erik Agard
PLAYED IT SAFE (4D: Didn't take any chances)
DRAINAGE DITCH (17D: Trench used to channel excess water)
JEDI TRAINING (21D: Regimen for a Padawan)
Theme synopsis: The word EDIT is found going DOWN in each vertical theme answer.
Things I learned:
- SURFED (49A: Competed like Sasha Jane Lowerson) Earlier this year, Sasha Jane Lowerson SURFED in Australia, something she's done many times before, as that's where she's from. This year was significant, however, because when she won the Women's Open and Logger Divisions of the Western Australian State Titles, she became the first transgender surfer to win a longboard competition. I enjoyed reading this interview with Sasha Jane Lowerson. As you can imagine, her journey hasn't always been easy, but she says, "Now I'm living my truth, and how people react to that is really up to them."
- PIANO (11D: Instrument played by Diana Krall) Canadian singer and jazz pianist, Diana Krall, has had eight albums debut at the top of Billboard's Jazz Albums chart.
- ECO (29D: ___ Styler gel) If I spent more time in the hair product aisle, I might not have needed the help of crossing answers to figure out ECO Styler gel.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- RASPY (1A: Like Melissa Etheridge's voice) Melissa Etheridge is a singer-songwriter known for her RASPY vocals on songs such as "Bring Me Some Water," and "I'm the Only One."
- EMPEROR (24A: Naruhito, for one) Naruhito is the current EMPEROR of Japan, having acceded to the throne May 1, 2019, following the abdication of his father, Akihito.
- DURIAN (31A: Pungent fruit with a thorny rind) I have previously written about DURIAN.
- OSTRICH (43A: Bird that can grow to be nine feet tall) We frequently see the OSTRICH's relative, the emu, in crosswords, so it was fun to see the OSTRICH itself today. The OSTRICH is the world's tallest bird. It cannot fly, but it can run at speeds of over 40 miles per hour.
- JEDI TRAINING (21D: Regimen for a Padawan) Star Wars fans will know that a Padawan is a JEDI apprentice. A Padawan has completed initial JEDI TRAINING, and has advanced to studying with a mentor.
- TEN (39D: Crawfish's leg count) Crawfish are decapod crustaceans, an order that also includes shrimp and lobsters. Decapods can have up to 38 appendages, and TEN of those appendages are considered legs.
- UNCLE (50A: Phil to Will) This is a reference to the TV sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. On the show, Phil (Philip Banks, played by James Avery) is the UNCLE of Will (Will Smith played by Will Smith).
- OARS (59D: Pair for a coxless pair) A coxless pair is a type of boat used in competitive rowing.
- DES (66A: ___ Moines, Iowa ) The capital and most populous city of Iowa, DES Moines is home to several colleges, including Drake University, one of my alma maters.
- YEN (5D: Currency in Kyoto) Kyoto is a city in Japan, and is the capital of Kyoto Prefecture. The currency of Japan is the Japanese YEN.
- IRIS (28A: Tennessee state flower) Interestingly, Tennessee has three state flowers. When the IRIS was designated as the "State Flower of Tennessee" in 1933, the legislature failed to formally rescind the designation made in 1919 of the passion flower as the state flower. To clear up confusion, in 1973, the IRIS was designated as the "state cultivated flower," and the passion flower was designated as the "state wildflower." Then in 2012, the Tennessee legislature added Tennessee Echinacea as a second "state wildflower."
A straightforward theme today. I appreciated that the word EDIT was "broken" in a different spot in each theme answer. Enjoyable answers I haven't highlighted yet include: CUT AND DRIED, CHARISMA, and (my favorite answer is the puzzle) I IMAGINE SO. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Sunday.