Title: ROOM AT THE BOTTOM
Constructor: Stella Zawistowski
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
ITALIAN DRESSING (3D: Salad condiment with oil and vinegar)
RUNS IN THE FAMILY (5D: Gets passed from generation to generation)
FIVE SPICE POWDER (8D: Mixture used in Chinese cuisine)
Theme synopsis: The BOTTOM word of each vertical theme answer is a type of ROOM. We have a DRESSING ROOM, a FAMILY ROOM, and a POWDER ROOM.
Things I learned:
- CHE (37A: Sara Ramirez's character in "And Just Like That...") The TV series, And Just Like That... is a sequel to the 1998-2004 series Sex and the City, and the 2010 movie, Sex and the City 2. And Just Like That is set 11 years after the events of the movie. Sara Ramirez plays the role of CHE Diaz, a new character that did not appear in the previous stories.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- VERB (17A: Action word) Well, this seems like a perfect opportunity to link to the Schoolhouse Rock song, "VERBs."
- ICYMI (21A: "Here's an interesting article y'all might not have seen," in online shorthand) ICYMI = In case you missed it. And, ICYMI, an interesting article I read yesterday is from The New Yorker, titled, "What Should a Nine-Thousand-Pound Electric Vehicle Sound Like?" I was especially interested in this article, because my husband and I just bought an electric vehicle. Our previous car, was a 2012 Toyota Prius C, and as it was manufactured before the regulations mentioned in this article kicked in, it was quiet when driven at lower speeds. When driving the Prius, I was always particularly cautious driving near bikers and pedestrians, because I knew they might not hear my approach. Our new car has the safety features mentioned in the article. I'm still careful, but thankful for this added safety feature.
- LOKI (58A: Asgardian god of mischief) In Norse mythology, Asgard is a fortified home associated with the gods. LOKI is a shape shifter, sometimes taking the form of a mare, a salmon, or a fly. LOKI has appeared in modern popular culture, including in Rick Riordan's trilogy, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, in Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe played by Tom Hiddleston.
- YANG (64A: Masculine principle in Chinese philosophy) In Chinese philosophy, Yin and YANG are opposite yet complementary and interconnected forces. YANG is described as the masculine principle, and yin is the feminine principle.
- FIVE-SPICE POWDER (8D: Mixture used in Chinese cuisine) Although its name might suggest it only has FIVE ingredients, FIVE-SPICE POWDER has many variations, some of which contain more than FIVE SPICEs. The SPICEs used represent the FIVE tastes of sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and savory. A common mix used in FIVE-SPICE POWDER is star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds.
- HAI (20D: Yes, in Japanese) It's been a couple of years since we've seen HAI in the puzzle, so I admit I relied on crossing answers to remember the last letter. In case you're wondering (or even if you're not, I suppose...) the Japanese word for "no" is "bangō."
- DOLL (33D: Kachina ___ (Hopi carving)) I have previously written about Hopi kachina DOLLs.
- NAM (44D: ___ pla (Thai fish sauce)) I first learned about NAM pla from the October 16, 2020 puzzle (also constructed by Stella Zawistowski). NAM pla is made from salted fish or krill that has fermented for up to two years. It is a staple in Thai cuisine, and adds umami flavor to dishes.
- ARTIST (46D: Faith Ringgold, e.g.) I have previously written about the ARTIST Faith Ringgold, who is known for her narrative quilts. You can learn more about her and see some of her work on her website.
- BREA (53D: La ___ Tar Pits) Hancock Park in Los Angeles, California was formed around the La BREA Tar Pits. For tens of thousands of years, natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground in this area. The tar preserved the bones of animals unlucky enough to get caught in the pits centuries ago.
- IDAHO (60A: State with a potato museum) Although IDAHO isn't the only state with a potato museum (New Mexico also has one), it is the only state that is nicknamed "The Potato State." A few months ago I wrote about the IDAHO Potato Museum.
- ROME (25D: City with the Colosseum) In addition to being home to the Colosseum, Rome is the capital of Italy. The Colosseum, constructed between 70-80 AD, was the largest amphitheater built in the Roman Empire, and is still the largest amphitheater in the world. The Colosseum is built of limestone, and was originally used for gladiatorial contests and other public spectacles such as animal hunts. The structure of the Colosseum has been damaged by earthquakes, and impacted by stone robbers removing parts of the building. The Colosseum, which is visited by approximately four million tourists a year, is considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
- ERIE (26D: Buffalo's Great Lake) New York City is, of course, the largest city in the state of New York, with a population of almost 9 million people. Buffalo, New York, located on the eastern end of Lake ERIE, is the second largest city in New York, with a population of just over 280,000. It's been a few weeks since we last saw our crossword-friend ERIE, and this is its first appearance this month.
There's ROOM AT THE BOTTOM in today's puzzle...three ROOMS, in fact. This is a delightful set of grid-spanning theme answers. My favorite is RUNS IN THE FAMILY. Three grid-spanners means there's not a lot of other long answers, but there was plenty of great mid-length fill: CAN'T I, SEGUE, PRISM, VERVE, and LILACS were some of my favorites. Thank you, Stella for this puzzle that was a super way - one could say a "Stella-r" way - to start my Saturday.
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