November 3, 2022


Constructor: Rafael Musa

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
FRANK OCEAN (26D: "Channel Orange" singer-songwriter)
HAPPY DANCE (28D: Gleeful jig)
LOST GROUND (31D: Fell behind)

Theme synopsis: The BOTTOM word of each vertical theme answer is a type of FLOOR. We have an OCEAN FLOOR, a DANCE FLOOR, and the GROUND FLOOR.

And now a word from our constructor:
Actually, it's not a constructor note, but (perhaps even better?) it's a cat photo! After Rafa's cat
made an appearance during a Boswords interview, I asked him to send me a picture of her so she could join the Cats of Sally's Take. Rafa says, "Her name is Georgia and we are besties!"

Things I learned:
  • ULU (62A: Knife used to slice muktuk) An ULU is a knife traditionally used by Inuit, IƱupiat, Yupik, and Aleut people for a variety of purposes, including cutting muktuk, a food made from whale skin and blubber. Traditionally, the handle of the ULU was made with caribou antler, muskox horn, or walrus ivory and the cutting blade was made of slate. Modern ULU blades are usually made of steel. 
  • FRANK OCEAN (26D: "Channel Orange" singer-songwriter) Channel Orange is the debut album of singer, songwriter, and rapper FRANK OCEAN, released in 2012. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CHINESE LANTERNS (10A: They're lit for the Mid-Autumn Festival) The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is an important holiday in CHINESE culture. During the festival, CHINESE LANTERNS of all sizes and shapes are used to symbolize lighting a path to prosperity and good fortune.
  • PRAYS (35A: Performs salah) Salah are Muslim prayers. Prayer is the second pillar of the Five Pillars of Islam.
  • NICK JONAS (54A: Priyanka Chopra's husband) Priyanka Chopra is an actress, producer, model, and singer. Her movie credits include The White Tiger (2021) and The Matrix Resurrections (2021). Priyanka Chopra won the Miss World pageant in 2000. Oh, and in 2018 she married NICK JONAS, who has been acting since he was seven years old. NICK JONAS, along with his brothers, Kevin and Joe, comprise the band the JONAS Brothers. I enjoyed this clue a lot! It is a reversal of a trend that used to be seen a lot in crossword puzzles, cluing women by their husband's (or father's) accomplishments. A classic example is Yoko Ono, an accomplished musician, artist, and activist who is often clued in reference to her husband, John Lennon.
  • SEA COWS (64A: Aquatic animals with a bovine name) SEA COWS are large mammals that live in swamps, rivers, estuaries, marine wetlands, and coastal marine waters. They are herbivores, with their main food source consisting of seagrasses; this led to the name of SEA COWS. Here's a fun fact: SEA COWS have heavy bones which act as ballast and counteract the buoyancy of their blubber. 
  • DOE (68A: "___, a deer, a female deer") "Do-Re-Mi" is, of course, a song from The Sound of Music. Thank you, puzzle, for this earworm! "Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start..." 
  • STILES (8D: "10 Things I Hate About You" star Julia) 10 Things I Hate About You is a 1999 rom-com. The movie is a modernization of William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Julia STILES plays the role of Katarina "Kat" Stratford, an anti-social, shrewish high school student whose younger sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) is superficial and popular.
  • MEN (21D: "It's Raining ___") When I get tired of having "Do-Re-Mi" as an earworm, it might be replaced with "It's Raining MEN," a 1982 song by (appropriately) the Weather Girls.
  • ALOO (32D: ___ ki sabzi (Indian potato curry)) As I have previously written, ALOO is a South Asian term for potatoes, so when you notice a dish in a crossword clue contains potatoes, the answer may be ALOO. 
  • DENY (33D: Neither confirm nor ___) and PER (35D: "___ my last email...") and STUCK (36D: In need of a hint) I enjoyed that these three clues were consecutive, as they seem to tell a bit of a story. "PER my last email, I can neither confirm nor DENY that I am STUCK." 
  • ARIE (40D: "Brown Skin" singer India.___) "Brown Skin" is a 2001 song from India.ARIE's debut album, Acoustic Soul
  • SANDAL (46D: Shoe with a gladiator style) Gladiator SANDALs have a long history. This article provides an overview

    Geography review:

    • CLE (5D: Ohio city by Lake Erie (Abbr.)) Cleveland (CLE), Ohio is the largest city on Lake Erie.
    • SRI (15D: ___ Lanka) SRI Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. It is located southeast of the Indian subcontinent. SRI Lanka has two capitals. Its legislative capital is SRI Jayawardenepura Kotte, and its executive and judicial capital is Colombo.
    Even before beginning to solve this puzzle, I admired this interesting grid. All of today's theme answers are located in the bottom third of the puzzle. I appreciated the choice to align all of the FLOORs on the BOTTOM edge of the puzzle. The result of this is that the top third of the grid is essentially a themeless puzzle. Rafa made great use of that, giving us the fantastic stack of SPIN CLASS / CHINESE LANTERNS / NUCLEAR ENGINEERS. This puzzle definitely had me doing a HAPPY DANCE! Thank you, Rafa, for this puzzle, that was a delightful way to begin my Thursday. And thank you for sending me a picture of Georgia!