January 30, 2023

Title: PIN-UPS

Constructor: Kelsey Dixon

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
PING PONG PADDLE (4D: Rec room racket)
PINCH PENNIES (9D: Stick to a tight budget)
PINK PANTHER (21D: Fictional diamond whose theft is investigated by Inspector Clouseau)

Theme synopsis: Each of the vertical theme answers begin with the letters P-I-N, placing PIN UPpermost in the answer.

Things I learned:
  • HOST (48A: Rebecca Nagle, for the "This Land" podcast) This Land is a podcast produced by the political media company, Crooked Media. Rebecca Nagle is an activist, a writer, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and the HOST of This Land. The first season of the podcast, which originally aired in 2019, followed the Supreme Court case Sharp v. Murphy, a case which when decided in July 2020 disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation. The second season of the podcast investigates "how the far right is using Native children to quietly dismantle American Indian tribes."
  • ESI (6D: "Washington Black" author Edugyan) Washington Black, published in 2018, is ESI Edugyan's third novel. The book tells the story of George Washington "Wash" Black, born into slavery in Barbados. I enjoyed this article by ESI Edugyan talking about the room where she wrote Washington Black. She says, "The place where I write can be summed up in one word: chaos."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SPINS (8A: Turns in circles) Bonus theme answer with this PIN UP on the top row!
  • SO-AND-SO (16A: "Such-and-such," but for names) This clue made me smile. As I get older, I find myself talking about SO-AND-SO frequently.
  • HOLM (22A: Actor Ian or MMA star Holly) Sir Ian HOLM is an English actor known for being a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and for his portrayal of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Holly HOLM is a former professional boxer and kickboxer who now competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). This is a nice example of a clue that gives two options, allowing solvers to be successful even if they are only familiar with one of them. Given my "(Almost) everything I know about sports I learned from crosswords," mantra, you might be surprised to learn that the HOLM I recognized was Holly. It is no surprise, however, that I did indeed learn about Holly HOLM from a crossword puzzle
  • NO FUN (26A: ___ League (what NFL stands for, according to people who think its rules are joyless)) Ha! This is one of several clues that made me laugh today!
  • SLUGGO (29A: Nancy's boy friend in the comics) We last saw SLUGGO as an answer in the May 9, 2022 puzzle (by Kelsey Dixon). In the long-running comic strip Nancy, the title character is an eight-year-old girl, and SLUGGO is her best friend. Today's Nancy comic doesn't feature SLUGGO, but it does discuss writing, which I found amusing.
  • KEHINDE (32A: Portrait painter ___ Wiley) I have previously written about KEHINDE Wiley, and we saw him as a theme answer October 1, 2022
  • EGO (60A: "I love his big ___" (Beyonce lyric)) "I love his big EGO," is a line from BeyoncĂ©'s 2009 song, "EGO."
  • PING PONG PADDLE (4D: Rec room racket) I like how the three-word clue and the three-word answer here both feature alliteration.
  • INDOOR (10D: Type of soccer or skydiving) INDOOR soccer I understand, but although I know INDOOR Skydiving exists, it doesn't seem to make much sense to me. (Taking the "sky" out of skydiving...) I went down a bit of a rabbit hole reading about places that offer INDOOR skydiving experiences, such as iFLY
  • SPOT ME (12D: What Waldo might say when asking to borrow some cash) Oh, poor Waldo, destined to always wear stripes and yet also remain hidden and be in need of spotting! This was another clue that made me laugh.
  • PINK PANTHER (21D: Fictional diamond whose theft is investigated by Inspector Clouseau) The first film in The PINK PANTHER franchise is the 1963 movie of the same name. Peter Sellers originated the role of Inspector Clouseau. The role has also been played by Alan Arkin, Roger Moore, and Steve Martin. This calls for a link to "The PINK PANTHER Theme" - a classic.
  • MEG (50D: "When Harry Met Sally..." star ___ Ryan) Not too much to say here other than I'm always happy to see rom-com queen, MEG Ryan in the puzzle. (Having my name in the clue is a nice bonus.)
  • PET (58D: Companion animal) It's been over a week since we've had a PET reference
    Willow using my back as a perch
    in the puzzle, so thank you for this, Kelsey! My (incredibly silly and extremely needy) PET, Willow, likes to climb behind me when I am sitting at my desk (or at the dining room table for that matter...) The other day she decided to perch on my back. She definitely makes me laugh!

    Geography review:

    • CHI (24A: ORD city, for short) and NOLA (38A: Mardi Gras city, for short) and STL (7D: Missouri City, for short) and ORE (49D: State next to Ida.) We have a "short" geography section today, with abbreviations for Chicago (CHI), Illinois; New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA); St. Louis (STL), Missouri; and the state of Oregon (ORE).
    I would definitely not use the description "NO FUN" for this puzzle! Three great theme answers and a bonus are made even better by great fill and playful cluing . Thank you, Kelsey, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to start my Monday.


    1. Oh, I forgot to add that I really like the grid today, with its zig-zagging sections of black squares!


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