October 7, 2022


Constructor: Rafael Musa

Editors: Anna Gundlach & Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
TOMATO SAUCE (3D: Marinara, for example)
PICKING UP STEAM (7D: Gaining momentum)
BLOSSOM INTO (10D: Grow to become)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each vertical theme answer (the word on TOP) can follow the word CHERRY to give us CHERRY TOMATO, CHERRY PICKING, and CHERRY BLOSSOM.

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SKIN (22A: Largest human organ) Although the term "human organ" may lead one to think of lungs, kidneys, or the heart, it's true that the SKIN is also an organ. With its multiple layers covering the entire body, it is the largest organ. (Hooray for science in the crossword!)
  • SMELT (47A: "He who ___ it dealt it") This clue made me laugh. Did you know Wikipedia has an page on Flatulence humor? The entry includes a list of rhyming "inculpatory pronouncements" (statements implying guilt).
  • LADY GAGA (60A: "Telephone" singer) and BEY (39D: "Telephone" singer, for short) What a fun echoed clue pair. "Telephone" is a 2010 song by LADY GAGA featuring BeyoncĂ© (BEY, for short).
  • PICKING UP STEAM (7D: Gaining momentum) I originally had "PICKING UP speed," and was quite confused by some crossing answers until that got straightened out.
  • NSYNC (9D: "Bye Bye Bye" boy band) "Bye Bye Bye" is the lead single from NSYNC's 2000 album, No Strings Attached
  • IPA (29D: Linguist's speech notation system (Abbr.)) Although we often see IPA clued referring to India pale ale, in this clue, IPA stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet, a system of phonetic notation based on the Latin alphabet. 
  • LOSERS (48D: Astros, in the 2021 World Series) With apologies to any Astros fans who are reading, I thought this was an interesting way to clue LOSERS. The Houston Astros lost the 2021 World Series to the Atlanta Braves. 

    Geography review:

    • JAPAN (5A: Kiyomizu-dera Temple's country) Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, JAPAN. The temple takes its name from a waterfall within the temple complex; "Kiyomizu" means "clear water."
    • ROCKY (18A: ___ Mountains (range through Colorado) The ROCKY Mountains, stretching 3,000 miles from northwestern Canada to New Mexico, are the largest mountain range in North America. The ROCKY mountains pass through British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado (as the clue informs us), and New Mexico. Colorado is home to 78 of the 100 major peaks of the ROCKY Mountains, including the highest peak, Mount Elbert.
    • ESTE (70A: Ciudad del ___, Paraguay) Ciudad del ESTE is the second largest city in Paraguay. "Ciudad del ESTE" means "Eastern City" in Spanish. As might be expected, the city is located on the eastern edge of Paraguay, along the Paraguay-Brazil border.
    • ENG (21D: Language spoken in Guyana (Abbr.)) Guyana is a country in northern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of Guyana is Georgetown, and the official language is English (ENG).
    This puzzle serves up its delightful theme WITH A CHERRY ON TOP. In addition to the theme, I enjoyed TAMALE, ONGOING, and DUPLEXES. Shoutout to a couple of clues I especially liked: (39A: Belle, in a Disney title), for BEAUTY, and (57D: Easy jigsaw piece to place) for EDGE. Thank you, Rafa, for this puzzle that was a wonderful way to begin my Friday.