September 12, 2022


Constructors: Bonnie Eisenman & Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
CHAIRPERSON (19A: Committee head)
RAIL TRAIL (24A: Rhyming name for a repurposed train track)
CANE SUGAR (48A: Sweetener in Mexican Coca-Cola)
LIFT WEIGHTS (53A: Use dumbbells or barbells)

Theme synopsis: The FIRST word of each theme answer is a type of mobility AID: CHAIR, RAIL, CANE, and LIFT.

And now a word from our constructor:
Bonnie: I'm a first-time constructor and very excited to share this puzzle. Many thanks to Brooke for showing me the ropes and to Erik for some great edits. I hope you enjoy!
Brooke: I had such a fun time time collaborating with Bonnie on this puzzle! I'm so honored to be a part of Bonnie's debut, and beyond excited to solve her upcoming and future puzzles!

Things I learned:
  • COLOR (16A: 2019 sci-fi movie "Fast ___") Fast COLOR is a superhero movie that takes place in the future American Midwest. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the role of Ruth, a woman with supernatural powers (her seizures trigger earthquakes) who is on the run from law enforcement and scientists. 
  • RAP (39A: GloRilla genre) In April of this year, the song, "F.N.F. (Let's Go)" by Hitkidd and GloRilla went viral on TikTok. Here's an Essence article about GloRilla and her breakout song.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CAT (5A: Feline) Oh, hey, did you know I have a CAT?
    A long-haired CAT with calico coloring looking quizzical and adorable
    My CAT, Willow
    (If you didn't know, welcome to the blog - I'm glad you're here!) This is a great opportunity to remind you I would welcome the opportunity to feature your CAT or other pet on the blog in the future. Send me a photo of your pet, along with their name and a brief description of their personality, and I will feature them on the blog when an opportunity arises.
  • KAMA ( 13A: The ___ Sutra) The KAMA Sutra is an ancient Sanskrit text dating to between 400 and 300 BCE. Perhaps the most well-known parts of the KAMA Sutra are those concerning sexuality and eroticism. The text also contains sections about acquiring a wife, duties of a wife, other men's wives, and courtesans. According to Wikipedia (as always, consider the source), the chapter on courtesans includes a section on "Making a lover go crazy about you, how to get rid of him if love life is not fulfilling."
  • EMO (18A: Genre related to scramz) Scramz, also referred to as screamo, is a subgenre of EMO that emerged in the early 1990s. Scramz is strongly influenced by hardcore punk and screamed vocals.
  • RAIL TRAIL (24A: Rhyming name for a repurposed train track) A RAIL TRAIL is typically constructed on abandoned railways, repurposing the land into recreational paths and greenways. The Great American RAIL-TRAIL will (hopefully) eventually connect Washington, D.C. to the state of Washington. I am a fan of biking on RAIL TRAILs, because they are relatively flat.
  • DEF (31A: Certainly, for short) and RLY (22D: Very, for short) Because I was alternating between Across and Down clues while solving, I encountered RLY (short for "really") first. Therefore, when I read [Certainly, for short], my first thought was srsly (short for "seriously"). However, that DEF (short for "definite") did not fit.
  • CANE SUGAR (48A: Sweetener in Mexican Coca-Cola) The use of CANE SUGAR instead of high-fructose corn syrup is the answer to the question "Why Does Mexican Coke Taste Different Than American Coke?"
  • SAGE (63A: White ___ (sacred herb affected by over harvesting)) White SAGE, also known as bee SAGE or sacred SAGE, is a perennial shrub native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. This article discusses some of the concerns about over harvesting of white SAGE.
  • ALEX (64A: "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" co-author Haley) In co-authoring The Autobiography of Malcolm X, ALEX Haley drew from a series of in-depth interviews conducted in the two years prior to the assassination of Malcolm X. The book was published in October 1965, eight months after Malcolm X's death.
  • IDINA (26D: "Let It Go" singer Menzel) This is a great Share the Earworm offering. "Let It Go" by IDINA Menzel (as the character Elsa in Frozen) definitely sticks with you once you listen to it. When reviewing the puzzle after solving, I wondered what an EMO, RAP, or SKA version of "Let It Go" would sound like.
  • ALT TEXT (42D: Way to make an online image accessible) This is a nice accessible bonus. ALT TEXT is used by screen readers that render text as either speech or braille output.
  • NUH UH (49D: "Not true!") and LIAR (53D: "Not true!") This was a fun pair of echo clues, though  I did get the feeling that lower left corner of the puzzle was accusing me of being less than truthful!

    Geography review:

    • SLC (46A: State capital named for a body of water (Abbr.) and UTAH (65A: 46-Across' state) Salt Lake City (SLC) is the capital and most populous city of UTAH. Salt Lake City is named for the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in North America. In fact, the city was originally called Great Salt Lake City when it was founded in 1847, but the word "great" was dropped in 1868.
    • CALI (5D: Nickname for the Golden State) CALI and The Golden State are both nicknames for California. The capital of California is Sacramento.
    • ISLE (54D: ___ de Jean Charles, Louisiana) ISLE de Jean Charles is a narrow island in the bayous of Louisiana. Since the 1830s, the island has been the homeland of the ISLE de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians. Since 1955, as a result of coastal erosion, the ISLE de Jean Charles has lost 98% of its land. That's not a typo! The ISLE de Jean Charles is only 2% the size it was in 1955, and the residents of the island have become climate refugees
    It took me a bit to figure out the theme today, resulting in a nice "Aha!" moment when it clicked. In addition to answers I've already highlighted, I also enjoyed the entries GARAGE BAND, SPORTED, and DEMIGOD. Congratulations to Bonnie Eisenman on her DEBUT (51D: First performance) USA Today puzzle! Thank you, Bonnie and Brooke, for this puzzle that was a marvelous way to start my Monday.