Title: TRIPLE XL
Constructor: Erik Agard
Editor: Erik Agard
FAUX LOCS (19A: Protective style for natural hair)
TAX LOOPHOLE (31A: Carried interest, for one)
BOX LUNCH (46A: Packaged meal)
Theme synopsis: The letters XL connect the two words in each of the three theme answers.
Things I learned:
- CENTRE (28A: Air Canada ___, former name for Scotiabank Arena) Scotiabank Arena, formerly Air Canada CENTRE as the clue informs us, is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the home arena of NBA's Toronto Raptors and NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs.
- TAX LOOPHOLE (31A: Carried interest, for one) This NPR article describes the "carried interest TAX LOOPHOLE," a provision that was originally included to be deleted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The TAX LOOPHOLE was deleted from the final version of the bill. (Sigh.)
- SIXES (39D: Cricket equivalents of home runs) Everything I know about cricket I learned from the Lord Peter Wimsey novels, the game show Only Connect, and crossword puzzles. At some point I have probably heard about SIXES from one of these sources, but I couldn't recall that information to fill in this answer without the help of crossing answers. SIXES are so named because they score six runs.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- FINN (16A: John Boyega's "Star Wars" character) The character of FINN, a reformed stormtrooper, first appeared in the 2015 movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. John Boyega reprised the role of FINN in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
- FAUX LOCS (19A: Protective style for natural hair) I learned the term protective style from the July 31, 2021 puzzle. That puzzle gave the example of box braids as a protective style. FAUX LOCS are another option to protect the ends of hair and allow for natural hair growth.
- ARE (44A: "Unique, that's what you ___...") "Unique, that's what you ARE..." is a lyric from "Alien Superstar," a song from Beyoncé's 2022 album, Renaissance. This is a great clue to add interest to a three-letter answer. Solvers that recognize the reference will enjoy seeing it, and the answer is inferable to those not familiar with the song.
- HASH (57A: Chopped dish) and REHASH (41D: Discuss again) It amused me to see these two answers crossing in the lower right corner of the grid, although I realize this occurrence may lead some people to REHASH arguments about whether or when duplicate entries are allowable in a puzzle.
- GAFFER (1D: ___ tape, named for the head electrician in a film crew) Have you ever watched film credits and wondered what the GAFFER did? The GAFFER is the head electrician, responsible for the show's lighting plan. And if you've wondered about the "Best Boy electric" in film credits, that the GAFFER'S assistant. GAFFER tape is similar to duct tape, but has a fabric backing and can be removed without damaging the surface to which it was attached.
- NONUPLET (3D: Baby in a nine-baby birth) As you might imagine, NONUPLET births are rare. NONUPLET births in which all nine babies survive is even rarer. In May 2021, a Malian woman gave birth to NONUPLETs, achieving a Guinness World Record for "the most children delivered in a single birth to survive."
- GEN X (4D: Demographic after boomers) Oh, hey, it's me! I am on the cusp of GEN X, which includes people born in 1965-1980. This answer was timely for me, as just this morning, I read an article shared by my friend Julie that gave a good overview of the lives of GEN Xers. I don't necessarily agree with the "GEN X is better than you" attitude of the article, but I definitely related to the description of the world I have experienced as part of GEN X.
- XENON (32D: Element above radon on the periodic table) XENON and radon are both in the class of chemical elements known as noble gases. XENON, like the rest of the noble gases, is odorless, colorless, and has low chemical reactivity.
- LADY GAGA (33D: "Bad Romance" singer) If you need an earworm for the day, here's a link to LADY GAGA's 2009 song, "Bad Romance."
- EMPANADA (34D: Food that Maricel Presilla called "the ultimate master of disguise") In her cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, chef and author Maricel Presilla wrote, "The EMPANADA is the ultimate master of disguise, adjusting to climate and taste." An EMPANADA is a turnover consisting of pastry and filling, and it may be baked or fried. I completely understand Maricel Presilla's description, as looking at the outside of an EMPANADA, you may not be able to tell what filling it holds.
- CREE (45D: Buffy Sainte-Marie's heritage) Buffy Sainte-Marie is a musician and songwriter. In 1983 she became the first indigenous person to win an Academy Award when her song "Up Where We Belong," from the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, won Best Original Song.
- TAMPA (17A: ___ Bay, Florida) TAMPA Bay is a large inlet off of the Gulf of Mexico on the west-central coast of Florida. The city of TAMPA, Florida is (as one might expect) located on TAMPA Bay.
- ERIE (52A: One of the Great Lakes) Hmm, which one of the Great Lakes might this be? Oh, look, it's our crossword friend, Lake ERIE, making its second appearance this month. This is ERIE's 30th appearance this calendar year (and its 13th appearance this "blog year" - since June 9).
In addition to being the theme of this puzzle, TRIPLE XL may refer to a clothing size, a DJ, or a strain of marijuana. Take your pick! I enjoyed the answers HYACINTH, VICTORY LAP, and ITALICIZED. Thank you, Erik, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Saturday.