July 31, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SPACE OPERA (16A: "Dune" or "The All-Consuming World")
PLASTIC FORK (29A: Takeout utensil)
MAGIC TOUCH (47A: Special ability)
MEXICO OPEN (62A: Vedanta Vallarta golf tournament)

Theme synopsis: Each of the theme answers contains a CORPORATE INSIDER. Our C-suite includes a CEO (Chief Executive Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer), and COO (Chief Operating Officer).

Things I learned:
  • RAP (56A: Drill is a type of it) Drill is a subgenre of RAP music with lyrics that typically reflect life on the street and tend to be gritty and violent.
  • MEXICO OPEN (62A: Vidanta Vallarta golf tournament) The MEXICO OPEN is - as one might guess - an OPEN golf tournament held in MEXICO. The tournament was first played in 1944, and in 2022, the MEXICO OPEN became an official event on the PGA Tour. The MEXICO OPEN is held at the Vidanta Vallarta golf course in Vallarta, MEXICO.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SPACE OPERA (16A: "Dune" or "The All-Consuming World") A SPACE OPERA emphasizes melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, and romance. The term has no relation to music, but is a play on the term "soap OPERA." There have been two Dune movies, both based on the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert. One was released in 1984, and the other in 2021 (with Part Two scheduled for release in 2023). Set in the future, Dune is a classic SPACE OPERA that tells the story of rival noble families seeking to control the planet Dune. The All-Consuming World is a 2021 sci-fi novel by Cassandra Khaw, that has been described as "the angry, queer, gender bendy cyberpunk SPACE OPERA you didn't know you needed." It's been almost two years since we saw SPACE OPERA as a theme answer in another puzzle. 
  • POKER (21A: World Series of ___) The World Series of POKER is held annually in Paradise, Nevada (near Las Vegas). The event consists of over 100 events, featuring most major POKER variants. 
  • HAS (38A: "Rumor ___ it...") Although this wasn't clued as the song title (since the word "it" is not capitalized), as soon as I read this clue, Adele's 2011 song, "Rumor HAS It" popped into my head as an earworm. 
  • ESAU (66A: Civil rights activist Jenkins) I have previously written about ESAU Jenkins, whose motto was "Love is progress, hate is expensive."
  • PSA (9D: "Don't flush baby wipes," for example) It's true, even baby wipes marketed as "flushable" should not be flushed
  • ASHE (11D: Arthur ___ Kids' Day (tennis event)) Arthur ASHE Kids' Day takes place at the end of August each year at Arther ASHE Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. The event happens the day before the U.S. Open. Arther ASHE Kids' Day features a concert and lots of opportunities for kids to play and watch tennis. Held in memory of tennis great Arthur ASHE, the event has been held since 1993.
  • PIG (25D: Animal smarter than a dog) It's true, PIGs are social animals with problem-solving abilities, and scientists have found they are generally smarter than dogs. These scientific studies are often quoted by groups trying to convince people not to eat pork.
  • DATA LOSS (35D: IT nightmare) I thought it was a nice touch that the answer DATA LOSS went through MAGIC TOUCH, the theme answer containing the CTO (Chief Technology Officer).
  • COCO (49D: "Bel-Air" actress Jones) On the TV series Bel-Air - the reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - COCO Jones plays the role of Hilary Banks, a social media influencer and cousin of Will Smith.
  • MBA (62D: Degree held by many execs) This is a nice bonus answer to accompany today's theme.

    Geography review:

    • RENO (20A: City west of Sparks) Sparks and RENO, its neighboring city to the west, together comprise the RENO-Sparks metropolitan area in western Nevada. 
    • HURON (55A: Second-largest Great Lake) Hey, it's nice to see a Great Lake in the crossword that isn't Lake Erie. Lake HURON lies on the U.S.-Canada border in the U.S. state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario. By surface area HURON is the second-largest of the Great Lakes, following Lake Superior and just ahead of Lake Michigan. When measuring by volume, Lake HURON and Lake Michigan trade places in the rankings list.
    • SERB (69A: Belgrade resident) Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia.
    • PECOS (21D: Rio Grande tributary) The PECOS River flows for a length of 926 miles from north-central New Mexico into Texas, where it empties into the Rio Grande.
    • SAO (39D: ___ Paulo) São Paulo, Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world.
    • CST (63D: MSP time zone) The twin Minnesota cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, abbreviated as MSP are on Central Standard Time (CST).
    I enjoyed this variation on the hidden word theme with a different abbreviation found in each theme answer. The added touches of DATA LOSS and MBA that I mentioned above made the puzzle even more enjoyable. I also liked the clue for WALDO (1A: Hard-to-find character in children's books). Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a great way to begin my Sunday.