March 30, 2023


Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
RARE ESSENCE (16A: "Work the Walls" go-go band)
RASPBERRY SAUCE (32A: Topping for cheesecake or Peach Melba)
RAN FOR OFFICE (51A: Tried to take a seat)

Theme synopsis: The word RACE is found AROUND each theme answer.

Things I learned:
  • RARE ESSENCE (16A: "Work the Walls" go-go band) "Work the Walls" is the title track for RARE ESSENCE's 1992 debut album. The song was the most successful single for the Washington, D.C.-based go-go band.
  • APACHE (46A: ___ Software Foundation, subject of a Natives in Tech name-change campaign in 2023) Natives in Tech is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "cultivate a tech ecosystem of Native technologists crafting free and open source technology for Native communities." Earlier this year, Natives in Tech asked the APACHE Software Foundation, a nonprofit corporation supporting a number of open source software products, to consider changing its name, claiming the use of the name is cultural appropriation. This Ars Technica article does a good job of explaining the request for the name change.
  • EDS (54D: Ehlers-Danlos, for short) Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, or EDS, are a group of genetic disorders that affect connective tissues, including skin, joints, and the walls of blood vessels. Symptoms include overly flexible joints and stretchy, fragile skin. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • URL (1A:, for example) I'm a fan of using an entry like URL to lift up a worthy website, and is a great one! Black Crossword is a site by Juliana Pache, which publishes a daily mini crossword that emphasizes "terms and clues from across the Black diaspora." I have enjoyed solving these minis, and I encourage you to check out Black Crossword if you haven't already discovered it.
  • UPSETS (21A: Gets to) and REACHES (23A: Gets to) I appreciated these identical clues that lift up different meanings of "gets to." Especially fun to see UPSETS and REACHES in the same row.
  • RASPBERRY SAUCE (32A: Topping for cheesecake or Peach Melba) and PIE SHOP (33D: Dessert spot with key lime and coconut custard) This puzzle made me hungry for dessert! I would not turn down cheesecake with RASPBERRY SAUCE, or Peach Melba. Peach Melba is named in honor of Australian soprano Nellie Melba. The dessert, which is vanilla ice cream with peaches and RASPBERRY SAUCE, was invented in the 1890s at the Savoy Hotel in London. Since I'm on the road at the moment and can't bake something, I might have to stop at a PIE SHOP today.
  • SWORDS (43A: Weapons that are one of the four suits in tarot) Tarot decks have cards in four suits: batons, coins, cups, and SWORDS.
  • EPA (48A: Government org. with a flower logo) The logo of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a two-leaved flower. A four-leaved version of the flower is used on the EPA Seal. 
  • LAST STRAW (3D: Cherry on top, but bad) This is a fun and interesting clue. Cherry on top and LAST STRAW are metaphors that have opposite meaning.
  • PEDRO (27D: "The Last of Us" star ___ Pascal) The Last of Us is a TV series based on a 2013 video game of the same name. We saw THE LAST OF US as the title of the puzzle earlier this month. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic United States. PEDRO Pascal portrays Joel, a smuggler tasked with escorting a teenager (played by Bella Ramsey) across the country.

    Geography review:

    • LAS (15A: First word of the largest city in Nevada) and SAN (35D: First word of the second-largest city in California) I thought this was a fun way to clue two words seen frequently in crosswords. The largest city in Nevada is, of course, LAS Vegas. The second largest city in California (following Los Angeles) is SAN Diego.
    • ANKARA (39A: Capital of Turkey) Turkey's capital city of ANKARA is the country's second-largest city, following Istanbul. Historically known as Angora, the city's name officially changed to ANKARA in the 1930s. Angora rabbits (the source of Angora wool), Angora goats (the source of mohair), and Angora cats were all named after the city.
    Nothing like getting the RUNAROUND from a crossword puzzle first thing in the morning! In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I enjoyed PEACE TALKS, REST EASY, and WEIRDLY. Thank you, Erik, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Thursday.