May 8, 2023

Title: A&W

Constructors: May Huang & Rafael Musa

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
ARM WRESTLING (20A: Contest that starts with elbow on a table)
ANGKOR WAT (37A: Cambodian temple complex built in the 12th century)
ASH WEDNESDAY (55A: First day of Lent)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a two word phrase with the initials A&W.

Things I learned:
  • READER (23A: Storygraph user) Storygraph (officially "The Storygraph") is a web platform designed for READERs to keep track of books they read. READERs can also interact with other READERs, design reading challenges, and receive book recommendations based on their reading habits. 
  • GEO (38D: ___Guessr (location guessing game)) GEOGuessr is a web-based game in which players guess locations based on Google Street View imagery. The game has both free and paid options. The game was created by Anton WallĂ©n in 2013. Although it's 10 years old, I've somehow managed not to play GEOGuessr yet. This may now be on today's "to-do" list...
  • EATEN (50D: "Have You ___?" (Su Youn Lee picture book) "Have you EATEN?" is a phrase that's used in Korean culture similar to "How are you?" Su Youn Lee's picture book, Have you EATEN? celebrates sharing food as a way to show love. As a firm believer that picture books are for people of all ages, I appreciated this interview with Su Youn Lee in which she described going into a bookstore and reading a picture book, "I was surprised that children's books are for children but they are touching my heart also."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SELINA (29A: ___ Kyle, aka Catwoman) The DC comics character, Catwoman, is the alter ego of SELINA Kyle. SELINA Kyle has been portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1992 movie Batman Returns, Anne Hathaway in the 2012 movie The Dark Knight Rises, and Carmen Bicondova and Lili Simmons in the 2014-2019 TV series Gotham.
  • TIME (33A: "About Damn ___" (Lizzo song)) "About Damn TIME" is a 2022 single from the Lizzo album Special. "About Damn TIME" reached the top of Billboard's "Hot 100" chart, becoming the first song with the word "damn" in the title to reach the top of the chart.
  • SON (46A: Luke, to Anakin Skywalker) Anakin Skywalker, one of the main protagonists in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, is better known as Darth Vader. It occurs to me this may be a spoiler for the one person that doesn't know Luke is the SON of Darth Vader. (Sorry!)
  • EDITH (51A: Anne Frank's mother) It has probably been nearly 45 years since I last read Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, so it took some help from crossing answers to remind me that EDITH was Anne Frank's mother's name. EDITH Frank (1900-1945) died at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945, just three weeks before the camp was liberated.
  • TATTOO (59A: Creation on "Ink Master") Ink Master is a reality TV series that features TATTOO artists. The TATTOO artists compete in various challenges, with the winner receiving a $100,000 prize.
  • LEX (65A: App with the slogan "If it's queer, it's here") I first learned about LEX from the June 11, 2021 puzzle. LEX is entirely text-based, with users writing posts similar to classified ads.
  • NORMANI (3D: "Motivation" singer) "Motivation" was released in 2019, and is the first single for NORMANI. Prior to her solo career, NORMANI was a contestant on The X Factor and a member of the group Fifth Harmony.
  • HBO (41D: "The Last of Us" network) I just wrote about The Last of Us yesterday. If you'd like to watch it, it's on HBO.

    Geography review:

    • EURO (17A: Currency in Portugal) Portugal is a European country on the Iberian Peninsula. Its only neighbor is Spain, which borders Portugal to its north and east. Along its western and southern coast, Portugal borders the Atlantic Ocean, and the country includes the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. The capital of Portugal is Lisbon. Portugal is one of the 20 European Union member to use the EURO as currency.
    • ANGKOR WAT (37A: Cambodian temple complex built in the 12th century) The Cambodian temple complex, ANGKOR WAT, was originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire in the early 12th century. It was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the century. ANGKOR WAT is spread across over 400 acres, and the Guinness World Records considers it the world's larges religious structure. Although it is no longer used as a temple, ANGKOR WAT attracts numerous visitors, and is still considered by many to be a spiritual place.
    I like A&W root beer and I also like this puzzle. In addition to the answers highlighted above, I enjoyed the great clues for THIRTEEN (40A: Bar mitzvah age), EYELINER (8D: Makeup used to create wings), YOU'RE IT (2D: Phrase after "Tag"), and WHAT NEXT (39D: "Ugh, can anything else go wrong?") Thank you, May and Rafa, for this puzzle that was a marvelous way to start my Monday.


    1. And today I learned (after posting the blog) that "A&W" is also the name of a Lana Del Rey song released in February of this year!


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