September 30, 2022


Constructors: Erik Agard & Neville Fogarty

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
FREE REIN (18A: Carte blanche)
RIGHT AS RAIN (38A: In good order)
EVA REIGN (59A: Actress in the 2022 rom-com "Anything's Possible")

Theme synopsis: The last words of the theme answers are homonyms, words that sound alike but have different meanings. One of those homonyms is WEATHER, and two are NOT: REIN, RAIN, REIGN.

Things I learned:
  • EVA REIGN (59A: Actress in the 2022 rom-com "Anything's Possible") The Amazon Prime movie, Anything's Possible is a coming-of-age-film about a Black transgender teenage girl, played by EVA REIGN. The movie is Billy Porter's directorial debut. In addition to acting, EVA REIGN has also worked in journalism, and has written for Vogue, New York Magazine, and Them.
  • MALL (1D: The Marketplace at Steamtown, for example) The Marketplace at Steamtown is a MALL in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The MALL was built on land that was previously a train yard, and overlooks the Steamtown National Historic Site. Fans of the TV show, The Office, may remember that The Marketplace at Steamtown was featured several times on the show.
  • SURVIVOR (10D: Reality show won by Maryanne Oketch in 2022) The reality TV series, SURVIVOR, first aired in 2000. Each season, a group of strangers are placed in an isolated location, and must provide themselves with food and shelter, while competing in challenges. The 42nd season of SURVIVOR aired from March 9 to May 25 of this year. As the clue informs us, Maryanne Oketch won this season, and in so doing became the second Canadian and the second Black woman to win the show. The first episode of the 43rd season of SURVIVOR aired September 21. 
  • PANEER (46D: Shahi ___ (Mughlai cheese dish) PANEER is a fresh cheese made from cow or buffalo milk. Shahi PANEER is a dish consisting of PANEER prepared with a thick gravy of cream, tomatoes, and spices. Shahi PANEER originated from Mughlai cuisine, which developed from the cultural centers of the Mughal Empire.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LOKI (24A: Brother of Thor) In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Thor is the adoptive brother of LOKI. LOKI was raised by Thor's biological parents, Odin and Frigga. It was Frigga that taught LOKI to use magic. The MCU character of LOKI, played by Tom Hiddleston, is based on the Norse god of the same name. 
  • BOAT (28A: Rower's need) and OAR (37A: Rower's need) This is a fun pair of clues.
  • RIGHT AS RAIN (38A: In good order) The saying "RIGHT AS RAIN," originated in England, where RAIN is frequent. It's likely though, that this phrase, which has been in use since around 1870, didn't originate as a reference to the English WEATHER, but simply because its alliteration is pleasing to the ear.
  • TRIBAL (58A: TCUs: ___ colleges and universities) TRIBAL colleges and universities (TCUs) are institutions operated by American Indian tribes. DinĂ© College in Tsaile, Arizona was established in 1968 as Navajo Community College, and was the first TCU.
  • MERINO (62A: Type of wool) MERINO sheep are known for their characteristically fine, soft wool.
  • OCELOT (9D: Spotted wildcat) The OCELOT is a medium-sized wild cat that lives in South
    American rainforests, brush lands, and savannas. Willow, on the other hand, is a petite house cat that lives in my house.
  • AMY ADAMS (39D: "Arrival" star who played Katy on "The Office") In the 2016 movie, Arrival, AMY ADAMS plays the role of Louise Banks, a linguist hired by the U.S. Army to communicate with extraterrestials. In the first two seasons of The Office, AMY ADAMS played the role of Katy Moore

    Geography review:

    • ASIAN (32D: Like about 30% of the Earth's land area) The continent of Asia covers 17,212,000 square miles, which, as the clue informs us, makes about 30% of the Earth's land ASIAN.
    • NAMIBIA (41D: Etosha National Park's country) Etosha National Park is one of Africa's largest national parks. It is located in northwestern Namibia, and has been a national park since 1967. The park takes its name from the Etosha Pan, a large hollow dry salt pan that is 75 miles long. The Etosha pan collects water after heavy rains. Etosha National Park is home to many species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, including the endangered black rhinoceros. 
    • PST (45D: S.F. time zone) San Francisco (S.F.), California observes Pacific Standard Time (PST).
    I enjoyed this homonym theme, and the title of WEATHER...OR NOT made it even more delightful. Shoutout to the fun clue for KNEE (11D: Body part that can't touch the sheet in Twister). I also liked the answers LAST LAP, LEMONADE, and RELEVANT. Thank you, Erik and Neville, for this puzzle, which was a fantastic way to begin my Friday. It is not an exaggeration to say that I have been looking forward to this day for an entire month, which leads me to...
    One more thing today: Announcing the first Sally's Take Contest! Beginning September 1 and continuing through today, I have been leaving a hidden message (in plain sight!) in this month's blog posts. You've heard of meta crossword puzzles...think of this as a meta blog. I invite you to discover the hidden message! If you do so, email me (hoelscher4[at]yahoo[dot]com) with the answer before the end of the day on Sunday, October 9. On Monday, October 10, I will select one
    Sally's Take Mug
    random winner from all correct answers, and that person will receive a (limited edition!) Sally's Take mug. Just a little something that hopefully provides a few moments of delight.