December 27, 2022


Constructor: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme Answers:
CHALK TALK (20A: Lecture with blackboard illustrations)
SLATE MAGAZINE (36A: Publication with the column "Dear Prudence")
MARBLE RYE (56A: Bread with light and dark braids)

Theme synopsis: The START of each theme answer is a type of ROCK. Our ROCKY STARTS are CHALK, SLATE, and MARBLE.

Things I learned:
  • ARLO (10A: "Collapsed in Sunbeams" singer Parks) Collapsed in Sunbeams is the 2021 debut album of singer-songwriter ARLO Parks. The album won the Mercury Prize, an honor awarded to the best album released in the United Kingdom by a British or Irish act. 
  • ASHA (17A: "Locke & Key" actress Bromfield) Locke & Key is a fantasy horror TV series that premiered on Netflix in 2020. ASHA Bromfield plays the role of Zadie, and is part of the "Savini squad," a group of students trying to make a budget horror film. She also played the drummer of Josie and the Pussycats in the TV series, Riverdale. ASHA Bromfield is also an author, and her debut novel, Hurricane Summer, was published last year. 
  • ATOLE (7D: Hot masa-based drink) Of Mexican origin, ATOLE is a hot drink popular during Day of the Dead and Las Posadas celebrations. ATOLE is made with masa (maize dough), water, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. 
  • NADIA (51D: "Aftershocks" memoirist Owusu) Aftershocks, is NADIA Owusu's 2020 memoir. I enjoyed reading the transcript of this NPR interview with NADIA Owusu, in which she talks about Aftershocks
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • WEEP (16A: Shed tears) and CRIES (52A: Sheds tears) There's no crying in crosswords! Oh, wait, that's baseball... Go ahead, lament the ROCY STARTS by shedding a few tears. 
  • CHALK TALK (20A: Lecture with blackboard illustrations) A CHALK TALK is exactly what it sounds like, a lecture accompanied by illustrations on a blackboard (or a whiteboard). I went down a bit of a rabbit hole this morning (I know you find that hard to believe...) learning about the origin of the CHALK TALK. Frank Beard, a professional illustrator and editorial cartoonist in the 1800s, is considered to be one of the earliest CHALK TALK artists. He came up with the technique when making a presentation to his wife's women's group at a Methodist church. This article provides more background about Frank Beard's CHALK TALKs. My favorite sentence from this article: "His wife suggested charging a fee for each lecture, hoping that the cost would deter organizations from inviting him to talk at their functions."
  • ISLE (24A: Archipelago part) For some reason, archipelago is one of those words that I have to remind myself of the meaning of each time I see it. I'm not sure what I think archipelago should mean, but what it does mean is a group of ISLEs or islands. There's no clear consensus on what makes a piece of land surrounded by water an ISLE as opposed to an island, so the two words are treated as synonyms.
  • BAEZ (34A: "Diamonds & Rust" folk singer Joan) "Diamonds & Rust" is the title song of a 1975 album by Joan BAEZ. The song was written by Joan BAEZ, and she has said the lyrics refer to her relationship with Bob Dylan. 
  • SLATE MAGAZINE (36A: Publication with the column "Dear Prudence") SLATE MAGAZINE is an online publication created in 1996. The "Dear Prudence" advice column's name is a reference to the Beatles song, "Dear Prudence." The column has had multiple writers since it began in 1997. Herbert Stein was the column's first author, although he remained anonymous during his three-month authorship. Margo Howard, whose mother is Esther Lederer aka Ann Landers, authored "Dear Prudence" for eight years. Howard was followed by Emily Yoffe, who wrote the column from 2006 to 2015. From 2015-2021, the writer of the "Dear Prudence" column was Daniel M. Lavery (who wrote under the pseudonym Mallory Ortberg until 2018). Jenée Desmond-Harris has authored the "Dear Prudence" column since June 2021. 
  • BOX (44A: Makeshift lair for a housesat) There is something about a BOX that is irresistible to a cat. When my husband and I play board games, we set the BOX lid to the side just for Willow. 
    Cat in a BOX: three versions
  • GOATS (5D: Animals sometimes used for clearing brush) Several years ago, I served for a time on the Iowa City Community School Board. One of the things the Board did during my tenure was to approve the use of GOATS for clearing brush on a couple of the school properties. 
  • LEAD ROLE (12D: Rose Maxson in "Fences," e.g.) Fences is a 2016 movie based on August Wilson's 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. Viola Davis won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the LEAD ROLE of Rose Lee Maxson.
  • ABOUT (53D: "Tell me ___ it, stud") "Tell me ABOUT it, stud," is a classic line spoken by the character Sandy (played by Olivia Newton John) in the 1978 movie, Grease
No ROCKY STARTS here this morning, in spite of the puzzle's title. A smooth theme with three interesting theme answers. In addition to the theme, I particularly enjoyed KIDS' TABLE (21D: Spot for young'uns at a family dinner) and QUIZZICAL (22D: Like a head-cocked-to-one-side look). Thank you, Enrique, for this puzzle that was a terrific way to start my Tuesday.