March 25, 2023


Constructor: Tom Pepper & Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Guest Blogger: Kelsey Dixon

Theme Answers:

GOT DOWN PAT (16A: Mastered perfectly)

GOES TO THE MAT (26A: Fights doggedly)

GOBLET SQUAT (56A: Exercise named for a type of cup)

Theme synopsis: GOAT (an acronym for 'Greatest of All Time' [the best]) is parted to be the ends of common phrases.

Things I learned:

  • ANA (32A: "Twisted Love" author Huang)— this one is for the romance readers out there! I learned that "Twisted Love" is the first in a series of "brother’s best friend/opposites attract" themed novels, and with more than 333,000 ratings on Goodreads, you're probably missing out on something, well, good! (It has an 18+ warning on it, so proceed with caution!)
  • HAN (55A: World's largest ethnic group)—Han people are an ethnic group native to China that make up about 18% of the global population. The name for the people of this identity seems to have been inspired by China's HAN dynasty, which was one of the first golden ages in Chinese history. I feel like I should have known this, and I'm glad to have learned it!
  • GOBLET SQUAT (56A: Exercise named for a type of cup)— this was the last answer I filled in while solving because I had no idea what it was, and didn't even have a good guess. After watching a video on it, I realized it's a familiar leg workout involving a barbell or kettlebell. 

Random thoughts and interesting things:

  • Yesterday's puzzle, also by Zhouqin Burnikel, was called PEPPER UPPER, before today's puzzle featuring co-constructor Tom Pepper! This was actually the first thing I noticed when I opened the puzzle, and it set a fun mood for the solve.
  • PAD THAI (41A: Rice noodle dish with peanuts and lime) in the grid was a notable entry for me; I am used to seeing this as more of a 'fill in the blank' style clue with the word PAD instead of the whole name of the dish. It also felt very current to me as I had PAD THAI for lunch yesterday, but that's neither here nor there.
  • CLOUT (2D: Influence that's "chased") reminded me of "clout goggles" or "clout chaser" sunglasses that were popular a few years ago. Some people recognize them as the oval-shaped sunglasses Kurt Cobain wore in the '90s, but Denzel Curry brought them back in the late 2010s with the new name. No one asked me, but I think they're a really flattering shape for a lot of different faces! 
  • I NEED A NAP (10D: *yawn*) was a fun combination of clue and answer I just wanted to draw some more attention to! 

Geography Review:

  • DOHA (22D: 2022 World Cup host city)—Doha is the capital city of Qatar, and is situated on its eastern coast in the Persian Gulf. Doha has been the host city for several large sporting events over the last decade, which has led to some accusations of sportswashing.

Happy Saturday! It's an honor to be filling in for Sally again while she takes some time off. Since my last time guest-blogging at Sally's Take, I've come to consider her a bit of a colleague as we now work alongside each other editing at Lil AVC X! I edited one of her puzzles recently and, no surprise, working with her on that project is so much fun. I have some of my own work in the Lil AVC X archives, but I can usually be found at crosstina aquafina

I really enjoyed kicking off my weekend with this puzzle from Tom and Zhouqin. There were a lot of fun clues and answers here to add some pep to my solving docket, and it deserves to be (49D: Lovingly celebrated)!