December 5, 2022


Constructors: May Huang & Rafael Musa

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme Answers:
PERSONALITY TYPE (17A: What the Myers-Briggs test reveals)
FOUR OF A KIND (46A: Hand that beats a full house)
TAYLOR'S VERSION (56A: Red (___) (2021 album))

Theme synopsis: The FINAL word of each theme answer is a synonym of FORM: TYPE, KIND, VERSION.

Things I learned:
  • ANT (20A: ___ egg soup (Laotian dish) The eggs and pupae of weaver ANTs are used to make the Laotian dish, ANT egg soup. Weaver ANTs lay their eggs in April and May, making fresh ANT egg soup a seasonal dish (though ANT eggs are available canned). ANT eggs are high in protein and provide a sour pop to soups and other dishes. 
  • CLEO (69A: ___ TV (network for women of color)) CLEO TV, whose name is a nod to the Egyptian queen, launched in January 2019. The lifestyle and entertainment network's target audience is Millennial and Gen X women of color.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ACAI (13A: Three-syllable purple berry) Although I have written about the crossword-friendly AÇAI berry multiple times, I try to avoid pronouncing it. This clue got me thinking about other four-letter words that have three syllables. A few I came up with: area, iota, uvea, urea, and of course, Iowa and Ohio. Can you think of others?
  • PERSONALITY TYPE (17A: What the Myers-Briggs test reveals) Here's an insight into my PERSONALITY TYPE; I adore PERSONALITY tests. I recognize their limitations, but I find them fascinating. (This lines up with my top two CliftonStrengths - previously known as StrengthsFinder - attributes: intellection and learner.) The Myers-Briggs PERSONALITY TYPE Indicator, which I first took when I was in high school, was my introduction to PERSONALITY tests. The Myers-Briggs assessment relies on self-reported answers to a questionnaire to assign values in four categories: introversion or extroversion (I/E), sensing or intuition (S/N), thinking or feeling (T/F), and judging or perceiving (J/P). Sixteen PERSONALITY TYPEs are defined, each of which has a four-letter label, such as INTJ. The test was designed by a mother and daughter, Katharine Cook and Isabel Briggs Myers, who were inspired by the writings of Carl Jung.
  • MERYL (50A: Actress Streep) MERYL Streep is an amazing actress whose name often appears on lists of the "greatest" or "the best actress of all time." She has played an amazing range of roles. Do you agree with this ranking of MERYL Streep's performances? It has been 40 years (oh my goodness!) since I saw the movie, Sophie's Choice, but MERYL Streep's amazing performance in that movie has stuck with me. 
  • LAS (51A: ___ Culturistas (Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers podcast)) Since 2016, Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers have hosted a weekly podcast, LAS Culturistas
  • TAYLOR'S VERSION (56A: Red (___) (2021 album)) Red (TAYLOR'S VERSION) is a re-recorded version of TAYLOR Swift's 2012 album, Red. This may be the longest fill-in-the-blank answer I've come across in a crossword (and I knew it immediately)! Side note: If you are a TAYLOR Swift fan (or even if you're not) I recommend May Huang's most recent Lil AVC X puzzle, "Must Be Exhausting."
  • AGATHA (6D: Mystery writer Christie) Surely it's going to be a good day when your favorite author is in the crossword! Cozy mysteries are my favorite literary genre, and although I have many mystery authors I enjoy reading, none of them quite compare to AGATHA Christie. I have read all of AGATHA Christie's works, and only once have I succeeded in guessing the culprit. (Even on rereading I sometimes don't figure it out, but that's probably more to do with my memory...) 
  • PIPE (11D: Object in a 1929 Magritte painting (or not)) This is a fabulous and fun clue. I have previously written about Rene Magritte's painting, "The Treachery of Images," which features a PIPE (or not).
  • TEENA (33D: "Lovergirl" singer Marie) "Lovergirl" is a 1984 song by TEENA Marie. The song was used in the 2002 movie, Maid in Manhattan.
  • LAO (36D: ___ Gan Ma (chili oil brand)) I learned of this chili oil brand a couple of months ago.
  • ASL (49D: Language in the film "CODA") I have previously written about the 2021 movie, CODA.
  • VIET (59D: "The Sympathizer" author ___ Thanh Nguyen) The Sympathizer, which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was the debut novel of VIET Thanh Nguyen. The book, whose unnamed narrator lives a double life as a spy and an immigrant, is being adapted into a TV series. 

    Geography review:

    • ISRAEL (34A: Country with the most Hebrew speakers) Prior to 2018, ISRAEL had two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Since 2018, Hebrew has been the sole official language of ISRAEL, and Arabic is a recognized language with "special status in the state."  
    • OSLO (72A: Norwegian capital) OSLO is the capital and most populous city of Norway. Norway's legislature, the Storting (from the Norwegian word for "the Great Thing"), is located in OSLO.
    • ALPS (47D: Swiss mountains) The ALPS are Europe's most extensive mountain range system, stretching across seven countries: France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia.
    What TYPE of crossword do you like? Perhaps the KIND with a theme? Maybe a VERSION with playful cluing and enjoyable answers? If so, the FINAL FORM of this crossword should add sparkle to your day. In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I also liked STYLISH, PATTERN, PARTY DRESS (maybe a PARTY DRESS with a STYLISH PATTERN?), and APRIL FOOLS. Thank you, May and Rafa, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to start my Monday.