March 29, 2023


Constructor: Rebecca Goldstein

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme Answers:
HANDBELL CHOIR (20A: Ensemble whose music rings out)
HEY THAT'S NOT FAIR (36A: "Wait, you already had a turn!)
HAITIAN DOLLAR (50A: Conceptual Caribbean currency that equals 5 Gourdes)

Theme synopsis: The word HAIR is SPLIT by each theme answer.

Things I learned:
  • RPGS (27A: Pastimes featured in "The Adventure Zone," for short) The Adventure Zone is a weekly podcast hosted by brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy, and their father Clint McElroy. The podcast is loosely based on Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games (RPGS). 
  • I'VE (40A: "All These Things That ___ Done" (The Killers song)) "All These Things That I'VE Done" is a single from The Killers' 2004 debut album, Hot Fuss. The song was written by Brandon Flowers (lead vocalist of The Killers) about TV host, DJ, and music executive Matt Pinfield, specifically about the work Matt Pinfield did mentoring soldiers returning from the war in Iraq. Matt Pinfield's 2016 memoir, All These Things That I'VE Done: My Insane, Improbable Rock Life is named after The Killers' song.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • AMEN (9D: Response at the end of the Kaddish) The Kaddish is a hymn of praise recited during Jewish prayer services. Traditionally, Kaddish is not recited alone, but in community. The congregation responds with "AMEN" at various points during the prayer and at the end.
  • HANDBELL CHOIR (20A: Ensemble whose music rings out) This is a fun clue and a delightful theme answer. I am a fan of HANDBELL music, and used to play in a HANDBELL CHOIR. I'm not going to share any videos of me playing HANDBELLs (That's probably a good thing!), but here's a link to the St. Olaf HANDBELL CHOIR for your listening enjoyment. 
  • HEY THAT'S NOT FAIR (36A: "Wait, you already had a turn!) "HEY, THAT'S NOT FAIR!" is a fabulous grid-spanning answer. We've all likely uttered these words - or at least thought them - at some point in our lives. I thought the answer WHOSE (45A: "___ side are you on?") paired well with this answer.
  • TRAY (61A: Surface for holding wine and a book during a bubble bath) Hmm, I don't have a TRAY that fits on my bathtub, but I believe I might be adding this item to my wish list!
  • CBS (1D: "Lingo" network) Lingo is a game show that has appeared in various iterations in several countries over the years. CBS airs the most recent revival of Lingo, which premiered in January of this year and is hosted by RuPaul. Lingo involves teams of two contestants each guessing words, using clues that inform whether guess words contain letters that are correct and in the correct place. If you think this sounds a bit like the popular game Wordle, you're correct. 
  • LEAH (2D: Creole chef Chase) I learned about LEAH Chase, the Queen of Creole Cuisine, from the January 6, 2021 puzzle. I'm always delighted to see LEAH as an answer in the puzzle, as that's my daughter's name. 
  • NEF (12D: Actress Hari) This is another answer I learned from a 2021 puzzle. Hari NEF portrayed Tante Gittel in the TV series, Transparent. Hari NEF has a role in the upcoming Barbie movie, set to release in July of this year. 

    Geography review:

    • SAMOA (17A: Island nation near Tuvalu) The Polynesian island country of SAMOA is located in the Pacific Ocean, and consists of two main islands (Upolu and Savai'i) and eight smaller islands. SAMOA is about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, and about 715 miles southeast of the island country of Tuvalu. The capital of SAMOA is Apia.
    • HAITIAN DOLLAR (50A: Conceptual Caribbean currency that equals 5 Gourdes) The currency of Haiti is the gourde, which used to be fixed to the U.S. DOLLAR at an exchange rate of 5 gourdes = 1 DOLLAR. Although the gourde and the U.S. DOLLAR are no longer linked, the term HAITIAN DOLLAR is still used to mean 5 gourdes, and in some places in Haiti prices are displayed as HAITIAN DOLLARs.

     It's me, I'm back at the blogging game! And I was delighted to be able to write about this puzzle with its three great theme answers. I appreciated that all three possible SPLITS of the word HAIR were represented by the theme answers. I enjoyed the clueing a lot today. A few that stand out that I haven't mentioned yet: LAYER CAKES (26D: Dessserts that may reveal a rainbow when sliced), MAGIC BEANS (10D: Source of a fairy-tale stalk), and MOONDUST (4D: Powder that's disturbed during a lunar landing). Thank you, Rebecca, for this puzzle that was a fantastic way to start my Wednesday. 

    Many thanks to Kelsey, Matthew, and Shannon for guest blogging the last few days! I'm grateful for the fabulous folks willing to guest blog when I need some time off. I never worry about the blog at all when it is in their hands.