December 21, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LEFT NO TRACE (3D: Removed all evidence)
STRAIGHT ALLIES (15D: Supporters (but not members) of the LGBTQ+ community)
RIGHT ANSWER (26D: "Correct!")

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a DIRECTION word. First go LEFT ... continue STRAIGHT for a bit ... go RIGHT.

Things I learned:
  • SLAP (49A: ___ Battles (Roblox game with gloves)) Roblox is an online game platform that allows users to program games. Users can also play games created by other users, such as SLAP Battles. In the game SLAP Battles, (as far as I can tell) users select different gloves for the purpose of slapping other people. The more SLAPs you have, the greater your glove selection.
  • CEMITAS (46A: Sandwiches from Puebla) The city of Puebla is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Puebla. CEMITAS are sandwiches that originated in Puebla. The bread for CEMITAS (which are also referred to as CEMITAS) is made without egg and topped with sesame seeds. The bread is filled with sliced avocado, meat, cheese, and onions. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CRAYON (21A: Drawing stick) and OAR (29A: Rowing stick) These two clues just tickled my funny bone today. The simplicity and silliness of describing a CRAYON as a drawing stick and an OAR as a rowing stick amuses me.
  • CAT TOY (34A: Felt mouse, for example) Although Willow enjoys a good catnip-filled
    Willow guarding a milk ring
    felt mouse, her favorite CAT TOYs seem to be found objects, such as paper wads and the plastic rings off of milk jugs. 
  • APR (40A: Hmong Heritage Month (Abbr.)) The Hmong are an ethnic group in China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. Many Hmong immigrated to the United States following the Vietnam War. Since 2004, the state of Wisconsin has recognized April (APR) as Hmong Heritage Month, a time to celebrate and honor the contributions, history, and culture of the Hmong community.
  • RICE (48A: Grain for gimbap) As I learned from the February 3, 2021 puzzle, gimbap is a Korean dish of RICE and other ingredients rolled in dried sheets of seaweed.
  • LEA (51A: Actress Salonga) LEA Salonga is the singing voice for two Disney princesses, Jasmine and Mulan. In September of this year, LEA Salonga received an Impact Award from Time magazine for being a role model for kids of color.
  • NBC (56A: "Quantum Leap" channel) Quantum Leap, which premiered on NBC in September of this year, is a revival of a series of the same name that aired from 1989-1993. (I wrote about the original series when we saw Quantum Leap as a theme answer two years ago.) In the original series, Dr. Sam Beckett (portrayed by Scott Bakula) leapt through time. In the revived series, it is Dr. Ben Song (played by Raymond Lee) who becomes lost in the past and ends up living the lives of others and trying to change history.
  • ALLO (22D: Prefix for "romantic") The term ALLOromantic refers to people that experience romantic attraction. 
  • POETRY (50D: Ocean Vuong specialty) I learned about Ocean Vuong from the December 22, 2020 puzzle, and I have written about his POETRY several times since then. This fall, Ocean Vuong became a professor at New York University. 
  • BEAST (57D: Griffin or kraken) A griffin is a legendary BEAST with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion, and the head and wings of an eagle. The legendary BEAST known as the kraken is a sea creature. Tales of the kraken may have originated from sailors' sightings of giant squid.
  • SADE (60D: Singer ___ Adu) SADE Adu is the professional name of Helen Folasade Adu, often referred to simply as SADE. She is the lead singer of her eponymous band, SADE
  • PEA (66D: Minji stew veggie) Minji stew is a traditional central African dish made of PEAs, potatoes, and maize.

    Geography review:

    • ALASKA (16A: State that borders three seas) Those three seas that border ALASKA are the Bering Sea (a sea of the Pacific Ocean), and the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas (seas of the Arctic Ocean).
    • ROME (30D: Capital city home to the Pantheon) Welcome back, ROME, we just saw you yesterday. The word "pantheon" comes from the Latin and Greek words meaning "temple of all the gods." The Pantheon in ROME is a former Roman temple. Since 609 CE, it has been a Catholic church.
    • OSLO (32D: Capital city that gets as little as six hours of sunlight a day in the winter) Today, on the winter solstice, the sunrise in OSLO is at 9:18 a.m., and the sunset is at 3:12 p.m., meaning the capital of Norway will receive 5 hours and 54 minutes of sunlight. That makes me feel slightly better about the 9 hours and 10 minutes of daylight Iowa City will have today. 
    • HARLEM (38D: NYC neighborhood) HARLEM is an Upper Manhattan neighborhood in New York City (NYC), New York. The neighborhood was originally a Dutch village, and is named for the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands.
    If you are in need of DIRECTIONS, this puzzle is here to help you. I appreciated that LEFT and RIGHT appeared on their respective sides of the puzzle. I also like that LEFT, STRAIGHT, and RIGHT have different meanings in the theme answers than their DIRECTIONal meanings. LET ME SEE ... I also enjoyed SOFT SPOT, DARN IT, and THAT'S A PITY. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was a wonderful way to begin my Wednesday.