September 1, 2022

Title: MACHINE PARTS

Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
FLAMENCO GUITAR (27A: Instrument with a golpeador)
COCO GAUFF (40A: Tennis star from Delray Beach)
MONACO GRAND PRIX (53A: Formula One race that Ayrton Senna won six times)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains a MACHINE PART in the form of the word COG.

Things I learned:
  • FLAMENCO GUITAR (27A: Instrument with a golpeador) A golpeador, also known as a tap plate, is a plate (often made of plastic) on the front of a FLAMENCO GUITAR. The function of the golpeador is to protect the body of the guitar from golpes, rhythmic finger taps on the soundboard above or below the strings. Golpes are one of several techniques that characterize FLAMENCO GUITAR playing.
  • MONACO GRAND PRIX (53A: Formula One race that Ayrton Senna won six times) The Formula One racing event known as the MONACO GRAND PRIX is held annually in late May or early June on the Circuit de MONACO, a course laid out on the streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine in MONACO. Ayrton Senna (1960-1994) won the MONACO GRAND PRIX  in 1987 and every year from 1989 to 1993. His six wins are the most of any driver for the MONACO GRAND PRIX. Ayrton Senna died on May 1, 1994 (prior to the MONACO GRAND PRIX that year) as a result of an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix.
  • LEDISI (10D: "Anything For You" singer) LEDISI is an R&B and jazz artist. Her 2021 song, "Anything For You" won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LAVA (10D: Aboveground molten rock) and MAGMA (1D: Underground molten rock) The difference between LAVA and MAGMA can be summed up as, "Location, location, location." As the clues inform us, when molten rock is underground it is referred to as MAGMA. Once that molten rock breaks through the earth's surface - perhaps spewed out of a volcano - it is known as LAVA. Although the temperature of LAVA (1300-2200℉) is slightly cooler than MAGMA (1300-2400℉), you don't want to touch either of them with your bare hands.
  • GEEK (17A: Knowledgeable type) and NERD (55D: Knowledgable type) This is a very knowledgeable (and fun) pair of clues. Although often used interchangeably, there has been quite a bit of discussion on the difference between a GEEK and a NERD. Burr Settles, who studied Twitter feeds to define the two words, defines a GEEK as an enthusiast of a particular topic, and a NERD as one who studies and practices a particular field. There is definitely overlap between the two terms.
  • LESS (33A: Comparison word) and MORE (53D: Comparison word) This is MORE or LESS a fun pair of clues.
  • EONS (36A: A very long time) and AGES (26D: A very long time) Another clue pair! I tried to fill in "aeon" for AGES, because I already had the A in place, but it didn't take long to sort that out.
  • SITARS (38A: Instruments made from tun wood) Like the FLAMENCO GUITAR, whose clue this one echoes, the SITAR is a plucked string instrument. SITARS originated from the Indian subcontinent, and are used in Hindustani classical music. Tun wood, which is a variation of mahogany, is often used for the neck and faceplate of SITARS.  
  • COCO GAUFF (40A: Tennis star from Delray Beach) COCO GAUFF was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but her family moved to Delray Beach, Florida, where her parents were from, when she was seven years old. COCO GAUFF is currently competing in the U.S. Open, and yesterday one of her serves was clocked at 128 mph, the fastest of this year's U.S. Open so far, and the third-fastest in  U.S. Open history.
  • TRANS PRIDE (30D: What a light blue, pink and white flag signifies) The TRANS PRIDE flag has five horizontal stripes - two light blue (at the top and bottom), two pink, and one white in the center. The flag was created in 1999 by Monica Helms. 
  • CENTRE (47D: Midpoint, as spelled in Canada) I liked the "as spelled in Canada" hint in this clue.

    Geography review:

    • OMAHA (15A: Largest city in Nebraska) OMAHA, Nebraska sits across the Missouri River from Council Bluffs, Iowa. OMAHA's nicknames are "Gateway to the West," and "The Big O."
    • RICAN (18A: Puerto ___) I started to fill in "Rico," but quickly realized it didn't fit. Instead we need Puerto RICAN, a resident of the Caribbean island, Puerto Rico.
    • LAOS (25A: Country that borders Cambodia) In addition to bordering Cambodia, LAOS also borders Myanmar, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The capital of LAOS is Vientiane.
    • RIO (35A: Brazil's second-largest city, for short) The largest city in Brazil is São Paulo. As the clue informs us, Brazil's second-largest city is RIO de Janeiro. Brazil's capital, Brasília, is its third-largest city.
    • ORE (44A: Portland's state (Abbr.)) Portland is the largest city in Oregon (ORE). The capital of Oregon is Salem.
    • ROSE (32D: Iowa's state flower is one) Iowa's state flower is the prairie ROSE. The prairie ROSE is a perennial shrub native to central North America. The prairie ROSE is also the state flower of North Dakota.
    • OMAN (54D: Country that borders Yemen) In addition to Yemen, OMAN also borders Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and has coast along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of OMAN.
    This puzzle solved like a well-oiled MACHINE, with the COGs falling into place nicely. As noted above, there were a number of paired clues today. These were fun to come across. In addition to the theme and the paired clues, I enjoyed OCEAN FLOOR, PREVALENCE, and FORAGE. Also, I'm now hungry for FALAFEL and FROYO. A shout-out to the delightful clue for EEK (4D: Shriek that rhymes with "shriek"). Thank you, Erik, for this puzzle that was a terrific way to start my Thursday.

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