December 26, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
ALEX ENGLISH (17A: Basketball great whose #2 jersey was retired by the Denver Nuggets)
VANESSA GERMAN (27A: "Sad Rapper" sculptor)
TANA FRENCH (60A: "In the Woods" author)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a person, whose last name is a nationality: ENGLISH, GERMAN, and FRENCH.

Things I learned:
  • ALEX ENGLISH (17A: Basketball great whose #2 jersey was retired by the Denver Nuggets) During the 1980s, ALEX ENGLISH scored the most points of any NBA player. In the ten years that ALEX ENGLISH played for the Denver Nuggets (1980-1990), the Nuggets made the NBA playoffs nine consecutive times. ALEX ENGLISH was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997. 
  • OAR (50A: The ___some Foursome (nickname for a gold-medal Australian rowing team)) The Australian men's rowing team known as the OARsome Foursome won gold medals at the 1996 and 1992 Olympic Games. I was grateful for the "rowing" hint in the clue.
  • TANA FRENCH (60A: "In the Woods" author) TANA FRENCH's 2007 book, In the Woods, is the first in the Dublin Murder Squad mystery series. The book won several awards for best first novel, including an Edgar Award, a Barry Award, and a Macavity Award.
  • HULA (1D: Dance accompanying a mele) Mele is a Hawaiian language term for chants, songs, or poems. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HAM (1A: Meat in budae-jjigae) I first wrote about budae-jjigae, whose name translates to "army base stew," on November 18, 2020. This is the sixth time (since I've been blogging) that we've seen "budae-jjigae" in a clue. Each time it has been in a puzzle constructed by Zhouqin Burnikel, and each time it has been used to clue a different word. We have now seen it used to clue the words HAM, LADLE, POT, SPAM, and the related STEW/STEWS.
  • USA (12A: Amy Chow's Olympic team) Amy Chow represented Team USA in gymastics at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. She was part of the 1996 women's gymnastics team known as the "Magnificent Seven."
  • ACHOO (14A: Sound prompting a "Gesundheit!") "Gesundheit," the German word for "health," is the "ACHOO!" response my family used when I was growing up. My senior year in high school, our family hosted an exchange student from Germany. She was amused by this practice, as she had never heard the term used in this manner. 
  • VANESSA GERMAN (27A: "Sad Rapper" sculptor) We saw VANESSA GERMAN as a theme answer July 20, 2022. That is when I learned about the artist and poet who uses found objects and mixed media in her sculptures. "Sad Rapper" was the title piece of an exhibit of VANESSA GERMAN's works at the Kasmin Gallery in New York City earlier this year. 
  • FOE (61D: Mojo Jojo, to the Powerpuff Girls) In the animated TV series, The Powerpuff Girls, Mojo Jojo is an anthropomorphic chimpanzee. Mojo Jojo is a mad scientist and the main FOE of the Powerpuff Girls. 
  • CNN (62D: "United Shades of America" channel) United Shades of America is a CNN documentary series starring comedian W. Kamau Bell. The show features Bell visiting American communities to try to understand the challenges they face.

    Geography review:

    • PESO (26A: Colombian currency) Colombia is a South American country. Its capital is Bogotá, and its currency is the Colombian PESO.
    • LAS (40A: ___ Vegas) LAS Vegas, Nevada promotes itself as "The Entertainment Capital of the World." That nickname has also been used for Los Angeles, California (specifically Hollywood) and New York City (specifically Broadway).
    • OSLO (43A: Capital of Norway) The currency used in OSLO, and all of Norway, is the Norwegian krone.
    • MST (30D: Denver time zone, for short) Denver, Colorado is on Mountain Standard Time (MST).
    • EURO (57D: Austrian currency) Austria is one of the 19 countries whose currency is the EURO.
    Back to back puzzles from Zhouqin Burnikel to start of this week, as she also constructed yesterday's puzzle. All of the people featured as theme answers today are American, in spite of what their last names might suggest. My favorite answer in today's puzzle is I NEED A NAP. It's a little early for a NAP, but that my be part of my afternoon plan. Thank you, Zhouqin, for this puzzle that was an enjoyable way to start my Monday.