July 26, 2022


Constructor: Claire Rimkus

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
GARLIC BREAD (22A: Crunchy side dish often served with spaghetti)
FREE ADMISSION (36A: Feature of a no-cost event)
BENCH WARMER (47A: Athlete who doesn't get much playing time)

Theme synopsis: The first (AHEAD) word of each theme answer can be placed in front of the word PRESS, resulting in GARLIC PRESS, FREE PRESS, and BENCH PRESS.

Things I learned:
  • STRAW (38D: Jipijapa hat material) Jipijapa hat is another name for the brimmed STRAW hat known as the Panama hat. Traditionally this hat was made from the braided leaves of the jipijapa palm. 
  • ELENA (52D: Basketball star Delle Donne) ELENA Delle Donne is a professional basketball player for WNBA's Washington Mystics. She won the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2015 and 2019.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • AVA (1A: "Abbott Elementary" school principal) On the mockumentary TV series, Abbot Elementary, Janelle James plays the role of the school's principal, AVA Coleman.
  • LEIA (14A: Carrie's "Star Wars" character) The use of Carrie Fisher's first name alerts us the clue is looking for the first name of her Star Wars character. That character, of course, is LEIA Organa, who was Princess LEIA when Carrie first played the role in the 1977 movie, Star Wars. The character was also known as Princess LEIA in the movies The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). When Carrie Fisher reprised the role in the 2015 movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, LEIA had become General LEIA. Carrie Fisher died in 2016 at the age of 60. Before her death, she had completed filming of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was released in 2017 and that movie was dedicated to her. The 2019 movie, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker used archival footage of Carrie Fisher as General LEIA.
  • ONLY (17A: One of the O's in "YOLO") and TBH (30A: "Not gonna lie..." in a text) and OMG (33D: "Holy cow!" in a text) A nice trio of initialisms here. 
    • YOLO = You ONLY live once
    • TBH = To be honest
    • OMG = Oh my god/goodness/gosh/goshness
  • ERNIE (63A: Muppet who loves his Rubber Duckie) If you need a moment of joy in your day, I
    Rubber Duckie at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
    recommend watching ERNIE sing, "Rubber duckie you're the one / you make bath time lots of fun...voh voh di oh..." You never know when a clue is going to remind me of a story, and this one has, so here's a rubber duckie story for you. (I also have a story about the Muppet ERNIE, but I'll save that one for another day.) Last year for Halloween, my husband and I gave out rubber duckies for Trick or Treat. The following morning when we went on our daily walk, we found a rubber duckie lying on our driveway that had been dropped by a trick-or-treater. We sent some good thoughts off to the parent of that child that made it home without their rubber duckie, and I picked the rubber duckie up and set it in the branches of our cherry tree before we continued on our walk. A couple of days later, my husband moved the rubber duckie and left it somewhere in the house for me to find. This began a "game" of moving the rubber duckie around for each other to find. It was just our way of creating moments of joy. My husband even snuck rubber duckie into my backpack before our vacation in April of this year, resulting in a moment as we were hiking down into the Grand Canyon when one of my kids opened my backpack to get something and said, "Why is there a rubber duckie in your backpack?" Ha! Fast forward to a week ago, when our daughter and her boyfriend visited us. After they left, I walked into the bathroom, and there was a tiny rubber duckie sitting on the counter that had been left for us to find. "Oh, that's cute, I thought," but it turns out that was just the beginning! They hid tiny rubber duckies all over our house. We have found them in the garage, inside a board game, wrapped up in a bathroom towel, in the cat food...the list goes on. Each time we find one it makes us laugh. 
    A few rubber duckie sightings

  • GAL (4D: 256 tbsp.) When I read this clue, I started to do the math, then I realized it was probably easier to wait for a hint from crossing answers!
  • MATCH (13D: Success in Go Fish or on Her) Ha! This is a fun clue with two quite different types of matches. You might make a MATCH of similar cards while playing the game Go Fish, or you might make a MATCH on the dating app Her.
  • EDU (21D: Gallaudet URL ending) EDU is the Internet domain name used for educational organizations. Gallaudet University is a school in Washington, D.C. It is the only higher education institution with all of its programming and services specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. 
  • IRON (25D: Cobalt's neighbor on the periodic table) IRON (Fe), with an atomic number of 26, is located on the periodic table between manganese (MN, atomic number 25) and cobalt (Co, atomic number 27). Manganese, IRON, and cobalt are all metals. 

    Geography review:

    • CHI (27A: The WNBA'S Sky, on a scoreboard) WNBA's CHIcago Sky play their home basketball games at the Wintrust Arena in CHIcago, Illinois. The team was formed in 2006, and they were the 2021 WNBA Champions. Tying in with another answer in the puzzle, ELENA Delle Donne began her WNBA career with the CHIcago Sky, and played for them from 2013-2016.
    • NOTRE (48D: ___ Dame) The name "NOTRE Dame" translates to "Our Lady." NOTRE Dame most commonly refers to the cathedral in Paris, France, or the University of NOTRE Dame in NOTRE Dame, Indiana, although many churches and schools around the world share the name
    • RHODE (50D: ___ Island (Providence's state)) Providence is the capital and most populous city in RHODE Island. Located in the northeastern part of the country along the Atlantic Ocean, RHODE Island is the smallest state in the U.S. by area. 
    I hope you were able to PRESS AHEAD and successfully solve this puzzle. A nice set of theme answers here. Suddenly I'm hungry for GARLIC BREAD... In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I enjoyed TRANSCEND, TERRACES, SENSATION, BINDI, and NICHE. Thank you, Claire, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to begin my Tuesday.


    1. Thanks for the rubber duckie story. What a fun family!!

    2. Lovely anecdote about your rubber ducks, Sally. You may not want to consider deeply, however, the bacterial issues involved. See https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/29/health/rubber-duck-bacteria-study-trnd/index.html where there's recompense with a lovely shot of Ernie and Bert. David

      1. The inside of all bath toys tend to be havens for bacteria. You're right - I don't want to think about it! Fortunately, our rubber duckies generally don't make their way into the tub! :-)

    3. Not sure why my comment went in as "anonymous." It was from me--David Steere.


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