August 20, 2022


Constructor: Rafael Musa

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
WINDOW SHOP (18A: Admire merchandise with no intention of buying)
DO YOU COPY (29A: "Roger that?")
YELLOW LAB (49A: Blond pooch)
DEBUT ALBUM (58A: "Dangerously in Love," for Beyonce)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer (the FINISH, so to speak) can follow the word PHOTO (FINISH up, so to speak) to create a new word or phrase. Today's PHOTO FINISHES are PHOTOSHOP, PHOTOCOPY, PHOTO LAB, and PHOTO ALBUM.

Things I learned:
  • IGBO (22A: Ethnic group whose music incorporates the udu and ekwe) The IGBO people are indigenous to several states in Nigeria. Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea also have IGBO communities. (This much I knew from previously writing about the IGBO people and languages.) The udu and ekwe are traditional IGBO instruments. The udu is a percussion instrument usually made out of clay. It resembles a water jug with an additional hole in the side. Sound is produced by quickly hitting the side hole. An ekwe is a drum made out of wood. It is also known as a "slit-drum" and  is made out of a hollowed out tree trunk.
  • RAHEEM (10D: Soccer star Sterling) RAHEEM Sterling is a professional footballer (aka soccer player) who currently plays for the Premier League club, Chelsea. He played his first game with Chelsea earlier this month. Previously he has played for Liverpool and Manchester City. RAHEEM Sterling also plays for England's national team.
  • UBER (56D: Company that's the subject of the show "Super Pumped") Super Pumped is a TV series that premiered on Showtime earlier this year. The first season of the show is based on a 2019 book of the same name by Mike Isaac. The seven shows in the first season, subtitled The Battle for UBER, focus on the rise and fall of former UBER CEO Travis Kalanick, who is portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The plan is for future seasons of the show to focus on businesses that have affected the culture. Super Pumped has been renewed for a second season, which will be based on a yet-to-be-published book by Mike Isaac about Facebook.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CATNAP (24A: Quick snooze) and TREAT (44D: Pet's reward) and MEW (61D: Kitten's cry) Not just one cat-related clue, but three (if you count the generic pet-related clue).
    Willow enjoying a CATNAP
    Willow says this is a great day! (She thinks it's her birthday, not mine...) By definition, I suppose every nap Willow takes is a CATNAP. Her favorite place to nap is on my lap either on or under a fleece blanket. I particularly like photos of her on the blanket shown in this photo, because the cats on the blanket have similar coloring to Willow's, and it is sometimes difficult to discern where the cat stops and the blanket begins. 
  • U.S. OPEN (27A: Tournament Serena Williams has won six times) The 2022 U.S. OPEN will be held August 29 through September 11, and it may be  the last U.S. OPEN Serena Williams plays in. The tennis great has announced she will retire sometime after the U.S. OPEN.
  • ODE (32A: Sappho's "___ to Aphrodite") Sappho was a Greek poet known for her lyric poetry. Her "ODE to Aphrodite" was written in the late seventh and early sixth centuries BCE. In the poem, Sappho asks Aphrodite's help in pursuing a love.
  • EDU (34A: www.spelman.___) Spelman College is a private HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) in Atlanta, Georgia. 
  • DEB (47A: Secretary of the Interior Haaland) The last time I wrote about DEB Haaland, she was a U.S. Representative from New Mexico. Now she has a new title. Since March 16, 2021, DEB Haaland has ben the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. She is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, and the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.
  • DEBUT ALBUM (58A: "Dangerously in Love," for Beyonce) Beyoncé's DEBUT ALBUM, Dangerously in Love, was released in 2003. Beyoncé's seventh studio ALBUM, Renaissance, was released last month.
  • REESE (65A: Witherspoon of "Legally Blonde") and LAW (5D: The "L" of LSAT) We have previously seen LSAT clued as [Exam for Elle Woods]. Elle Woods, played by REESE Witherspoon, is the protagonist of the 2001 movie, Legally Blonde.
  • OMAR (66A: French actor Sy) OMAR Sy plays the role of Assane Diop, a professional thief who styles himself after the character of Arsène Lupin (from the Maurice Leblanc books), in the Netflix TV series, Lupin. He also stars in the movies On the Other Side of the Tracks (2012) and The Takedown (2022).
  • WOK (1D: Pan used to make yakisoba) Yakisoba is a noodle dish that originated from Japan.
  • ALI (6D: Actor Mahershala) Mahershala ALI will be in two movies that are scheduled to be released next year. Leave the World Behind is described as a "pandemic drama film," and is based on Rumaan Alam's novel of the same name. Blade is a movie that will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Five. 
  • EXILE (34D: Taylor Swift ft. Bon Iver song) "EXILE" is featured on Taylor Swift's 2020 album, Folklore. The song features the Indie folk band, Bon Iver. When it was released, "EXILE" featured a songwriting credit for William Bowery, later revealed to be a pseudonym for Taylor Swift's boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.

    Geography review:

    • IRAN (9A: Isfahan's country) Isfahan is the third-largest city in IRAN, following Tehran (the capital) and Mashhad. Isfahan's city square, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
    • ESTE (57A: Punta del ___, Uruguay) Punta del ESTE is a seaside resort city on the Atlantic coast of Uruguay. Its nicknames include "the Monaco of the South," the Miami Beach of South America," "the St. Tropez of South America," and "the Hamptons of South America." Brava Beach in Punta del ESTE features the sculpture, La Mano de Punta del ESTE, aka "The Hand." 
    I'm keeping it short today (this part of the write-up, anyway...). Today is my birthday, and solving and writing about this delightful puzzle has been an absolutely perfect start to the day. Thank you, Rafa!