July 24, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
BIKINI TOPS (15A: Parts of two-piece swimsuits)
MAIN ITEM (28A: Agenda centerpiece)
MINI TACO (42A: Snack in a small shell)
TURIN, ITALY (55A: Holy Shroud city)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer has the words IN and IT, and they are TOGETHER and spanning the two words in the answer.

Things I learned:
  • FILM (21A: "Parallel Mothers" is one) Parallel Mothers is a Spanish drama FILM that premiered at the 2021 Venice Film Festival. The FILM stars Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit, and was written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
  • IRS (22D: Harold's employer in "Stranger Than Fiction") Stranger Than Fiction is a 2006 movie about IRS agent Harold Crick who begins to hear a voice narrating his life as it happens.
  • KIMONO (38D: Yukata, for example) A yukata is a type of KIMONO. It is unlined and worn in casual settings in the summer by both men and women.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • WELSH (1A: Language in which "please" is "os gwelwch yn dda") Although I'm not familiar with this specific phrase, the answer here was inferable, as the WELSH language has a reputation for being consonant-heavy and containing combinations of consonants and sounds not typical in English or other European languages.
  • SODA ( 19A: Ramune, for example) Ramune is a Japanese SODA that I learned about from the November 22, 2021 puzzle
  • GENUS (35A: Ursus, for brown bears) GENUS is one level, or taxonomic rank, in the classification of living organisms. The GENUS Ursus includes not only brown bears, but also polar bears, the American black bear, and the Asian black bear.
  • WHERE (44A: "Address?") and WHEN (44D: "ETA?") This is a fun pair of intersecting answers.
  • AMISH (45A: Some rural Pennsylvanians) Many AMISH immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century, and Pennsylvania has the largest population of AMISH in the United States.
  • KFC (51A: Louisville's ___ Yum! Center) Yum! Brands is the parent company of KFC. The KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky is named after both companies, and is the home arena for the University of Louisville men's and women's basketball teams.
  • LOS (8D: ___ Angeles Sparks) The LOS Angeles Sparks are a WNBA team located in LOS Angeles, California.
  • PIANO TUNER (9D: Person who might bring a fork to work) The fork in question here is a tuning fork. I liked this clue.
  • PETS (11D: Beloved animals) PETS do have a way of winning us over and becoming beloved members of our families, don't they. The other day I was remembering our cat Holly (whose picture can be found on the CATS of SALLY'S TAKE page). When Holly drank water, she didn't lap it up from the bowl. Instead, she scooped it up with her paw and then lapped it up from her paw. As a result, the floor surrounding her water bowl was always wet. Willow will lap water from a bowl, but she prefers to drink water fresh from a faucet. Each of our PETS has had their own personality! I'd love to feature your PETS on the blog. Simply send me a photo of your PET and a brief description of them, and I'll work them into the blog when an opportunity presents itself. Here's a photo from a
    Willow "helping"

    couple of days ago of Willow "helping" me write the blog.
  • CLUE (53D: Board game featuring Dr. Orchid) I am a board game fan, and I enjoy playing many different ones. If asked to name an all-time favorite, however, it's the game CLUE (known as Cluedo in places other than North America). There's something delightful about logically trying to solve a mystery. (In related news, my favorite books to read are cozy mysteries.) In 2016, Hasbro introduced Dr. Orchid - represented by a pink token - as a new character/suspect, replacing Mrs. White. My favorite CLUE character is Professor Plum.
  • I'VE (56D: "Nobody Knows the Trouble ___ Seen") "Nobody Knows the Trouble I'VE Seen" is an African-American spiritual that originated during the time of slavery. Over the years, many versions have been released. The song has made many appearances in popular culture, and Wikipedia has a lengthy list of examples. My favorite: In an episode of The Muppet Show, John Denver once sang to mushroom-shaped Muppets, "Nobody knows the truffles I've seen!"

    Geography review:

    • EAST (17A: Lhasa-to-Shanghai direction) Both Lhasa and Shanghai are cities in China. Lhasa is the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Shanghai is the most populous city in China. It is located on the EAST coast of China, making it EAST of Lhasa (and most other cities in China).
    • EURO (33A: Currency in the Netherlands) The Netherlands is a country in Northwestern Europe, and is one of the 19 European countries that use the EURO as currency.
    • SWEDE (40A: Person from Stockholm) Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, and therefore its residents are SWEDEs. Stockholm is located on the EAST coast of Sweden, and the city stretches across fourteen islands, with over 30% of the city made up of waterways.
    • OMAN (54A: Sharqiya Sands country) Sharqiya Sands is a desert region in OMAN. The area was previously known as the Wahiba Sands.
    • TURIN, ITALY (55A: Holy Shroud city) TURIN, ITALY is located in the northwest part of the country. The Alps surround the western and northern part of the city. As the clue informs us, TURIN, ITALY is home to the Holy Shroud, also known as the Shroud of TURIN. The Holy Shroud is a piece of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man. Some believe it is the burial shroud Jesus was wrapped in following his crucifixion.
    • AMES (59A: College town in central Iowa) Oh, hey, I live in a college town in Iowa! But not the one this clue is looking for... AMES, Iowa is home to Iowa State University. Both my husband and sons are Iowa State alums. This is not to be confused with the University of Iowa (officially and confusingly "The State University of Iowa") located in Iowa City, which is in eastern Iowa. The University of Iowa is one of my alma maters. 
    This is a straightforward theme, and a classic USA Today theme type. The theme answers were fine, but I found many of the non-theme answers to be even more enjoyable: WEAK TEA, BEACH BUMS, PUT ON AN ACT, ASPARAGUS, and SLIM FIT. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a great way to begin my Sunday.