Constructor: Matthew Stock
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
SHORT STORY (17A: One of 11 in Brandon Taylor's book, "Filthy Animals")
RED SNAPPER (28A: Colorful swimmer)
HEAVY CREAM (45A: Ingredient in bisque and biscuits)
EMPTY TRASH (57A: Button that frees up computer storage)
Theme synopsis: The first (LEFT-most) word of each theme answer can be placed in front of the word HANDED, giving us SHORT-HANDED, RED-HANDED, HEAVY-HANDED, and EMPTY-HANDED.
And now a word from our constructor:
Matthew: I hope you enjoy the puzzle! In the 17-A department, I also highly recommend Te-Ping Chen’s “Land of Big Numbers” in addition to Brandon Taylor’s “Filthy Animals.” Both are among my favorite books that I’ve read recently.
Things I learned:
- SHORT STORY (17A: One of 11 in Brandon Taylor's book, "Filthy Animals") Brandon Taylor's SHORT STORY collection, Filthy Animals won the 2022 Story Prize, an honor awarded annually to collections of SHORT fiction. Most of the stories in Filthy Animals are set in a Midwestern university town. Brandon Taylor is also the author of the 2020 novel, Real Life, a partly autobiographical book about the experiences of a Black, queer doctoral student in a Midwestern PhD program. Brandon Taylor has experience with Midwestern university towns, as he has graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa. In fact, in learning about Brandon Taylor and his work, I discovered he lives in Iowa City! Although I don't know him (yet), I'm sure I know someone that does...Iowa City is not that big of a place. Here's an interview Brandon Taylor did with NPR about his SHORT STORY collection, Filthy Animals.
- K-DRAMA (49A: Show such as "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo," e.g.) A K-DRAMA, or Korean DRAMA, is a TV series made in South Korea, with dialogue in the Korean language. I learned the term K-DRAMA last month, but needed the help of crossing answers, since I did not know about this particular show. The TV series, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, is a coming-of-age K-DRAMA about a young woman (Kim Bok-joo) pursuing her dream of weightlifting in college.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- DODOS (13A: Extinct birds) DODOS were flightless birds native to the island of Mauritius. They have been extinct for over 350 years, as the last DODO sighting was in 1662. The proximity of this answer to PLEA (16A: Desperate appeal) made me think of the recent news that monarch butterflies have been placed on the endangered list by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Shortly after reading this news, my husband and I saw a monarch butterfly in our backyard. It was visiting the milkweed that grows at the edges of our yard. We gave it a pep talk and wished it luck on its migratory journey.
- PLURAL (23A: Like "moose" but not "goose") This was a fun clue. My first thought was mammal, but the quotation marks around the words moose and goose indicate the clue is referring to the words, rather than the animals those words refer to.
- RED SNAPPER (28A: Colorful swimmer) and ORCA (34A: Black-and-white swimmer) I liked the juxtaposition of these consecutive clues. The name RED SNAPPER is used to refer to several different species of fish. The ORCA is considered a "cosmopolitan species," as it is found world-wide in a variety of marine environments.
- EVER (43A: "___ After" ("Into the Woods" song)) Stephen Sondheim's musical, Into the Woods, interweaves several fairy tales, beginning with the classic words, "Once upon a time..." At the end of Act 1, the characters sing, "EVER After," but as they are congratulating themselves on living happily EVER after, a beanstalk is growing. Act 2 begins with the words, "Once upon a time...later."
- AIR (55A: Hot ___ balloon) I have always been a fan of hot AIR balloons. They're usually colorful, and it's fun to see them soaring peacefully in the sky. My husband and I took a hot AIR balloon ride to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. It was as lovely as I'd imagined it to be. This clue and answer reminded me of that ride which was 32 years ago now. We did take photos, but that was before the time of digital photos. This has motivated me to go looking for those pictures. You just never know what solving a crossword will lead to!
- EMPTY TRASH (57A: Button that frees up computer storage) This is your reminder to hit that EMPTY TRASH button if it's been a bit since you've done that task.
- FORMULA (4D: E=mc^2, e.g.) Albert Einstein's famous FORMULA, E=mc^2 (energy equals mass times the speed of light squared), describes the relationship between mass and energy. Using this classic FORMULA was a great way to clue this word.
- SIN (61D: Partner of cos and tan in math) If, like me, it's been some time since you've studied trigonometry, here's a reminder that sine (SIN), cosine (cos) and tangent (tan) describe functions relating to angles.
- USA (37A: Neighbor of MEX and CAN) Canada (CAN), the United States of America (USA), and Mexico (MEX) are, of course, the countries of North America. They are also the participants of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is a free trade agreement adopted in 2020.
- DAYTON (8D: Ohio's "Gem City") DAYTON is located in western Ohio, approximately 50 miles north of the greater Cincinnati area. The origin of DAYTON's "Gem City" nickname is unclear. One theory points to a popular racehorse named Gem that was born and trained in DAYTON in the 19th century. Another theory points to a Cincinnati Daily Chronicle article in 1845 that described DAYTON as the "gem of all our interior towns." In the late 1840s, an editor of the DAYTON Journal began campaigning for the adoption of the nickname "Gem City," and the name was eventually adopted by the city. Several DAYTON businesses use "Gem City" in their names. Last month I wrote about another of DAYTON's nicknames, "Birthplace of Aviation."
- ESPANA (32D: Nación de Barcelona) La nación de Barcelona es ESPAÑA. (Barcelona's nation is Spain.) The city of Barcelona is located on the coast of northeastern Spain, along the Mediterranean Sea. Barcelona is the second most populous city in Spain, after Madrid.
Even though I am not LEFT-HANDED, I enjoyed this puzzle's clever theme. In addition to the answers I've highlighted, I enjoyed STREAK, LA CASA, BTS ARMY, and FEDORAS. Thank you, Matthew for this puzzle that was a delightful way to begin my Saturday.
One more thing: It has snuck up on me, but tomorrow is the Boswords Summer Crossword Tournament. This year's event is being held both in person and online. I will be joining in virtually. It's not too late to sign up; if you're free tomorrow, join me! The Boswords events are always great!