September 26, 2023

Title: Inner Nerd

Constructor: Brooke Husic

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Guest BloggerShannon Rapp

Theme Answers:

DINNERDATE (16A Candlelit meal, perhaps) 

PARTNERDANCE (36A Salsa or tango, for example)

DESIGNERDRESS (57A Met gala outfit, often)

Theme synopsis: All three theme entries contain an "inner" NERD, and each is clued as an example of a thing they represent.

And Now a Word from our Constructor:

Brooke: my favorite clues in this puzzle are 33a, 34a, 45a, 24d, and 26d; i'm so happy the USAT runs clues like these!

Things I learned:

  • ERIN (15A: "Solo: A Star Wars Story" actress Kellyman). Erin Kellyman has also appeared in the Disney+ series "Willow" and "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier"
  • ORG (45A: www.picturingblackhistory.___). The site is a collaboration with Getty Images and Ohio State University that "seeks to uncover untold stories and rarely seen images of the Black experience"
  • ANT (7D: Insect with a species that's all female). Mycocepurus smithii is a species of fungus-growing ant in which some colonies contain only female clones of the queen who reproduce entirely asexually. [I know Brooke knows I love my super nerdy animal facts in puzzles, so thank you! This one is right up my alley!]
Random thoughts and interesting things: 
  • I really like that we have both MARE and SIRE, and funnily clued as 9A: Horse's mom and 51D: Horse's dad. Very cute! 
  • Starry (21A SPRITE: Starry competitor) is the current brand name of the lemon-lime soda offered by PepsiCo, replacing Sierra Mist in 2023. 
  • ROVER (27A: Vehicle that explores a planet). I love these cute little robots! 
  • NEWS (34A: "Good ___" (Megan Thee Stallion album with periodical-inspired cover art)) I put this on while writing this review. Highly recommend!
  • Really appreciate the good vibes of BLOSSOM (43D: Come into your own) and GOFREE (24D: Words to a butterfly released from a net). Happy solving. :) 

Geography Review:

  • LHASA (6D: Tibet's capital). Lhasa means "place of the gods" in the Tibetan language.
Brooke (and Amanda), thanks so much for a fun, interesting, and educational puzzle. Don't forget that Brooke also publishes harder puzzles with The New Yorker and on her own blog.

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