December 2, 2023


Constructor: Stella Zawistowski

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

Theme Answers:
WITHOUT END (18A: Never stopping)
WIENER STAND (23A: Place to buy a hot dog)
WINE STEWARD (47A: Sommelier)
WASHED-RIND (57A: Term describing a cheese that's been treated with brine)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is BREAKING the word WIND:

Things I learned:
  • YAM (5A: Tuber in asaro) Asaro is a dish that originated from the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. This traditional dish is also known as YAM porridge, and may be eaten as a main dish or a side dish.
  • RUDY (26A: The Drifters member Lewis) The doo-wop and R&B group The Drifters first formed in 1953 (as a backup group for Clyde McPhatter), and has had a number of different members over the years. RUDY Lewis joined The Drifters in late 1960, and was the lead singer on several of their hits, including "Some Kind of Wonderful" (1961) and "Up on the Roof" (1962). RUDY Lewis died in 1964 at the age of 27, making him a member of "the 27 Club," an informal list of celebrities that died at the age of 27
  • COLD (36A: How jungguk-naengmyeon soup is served) Jungguk-naengmyeon is a COLD noodle soup made of noodles, seafood, vegetables, and hard-boiled egg in broth. The COLD soup originated from South Korea, and is usually served with mustard and peanut sauce.
  • WASHED-RIND (57A: Term describing a cheese that's been treated with brine) WASHED-RIND cheeses are periodically treated with brine in order to encourage the growth of certain bacteria on the cheese's surface. These bacteria give the cheese a distinctive flavor. WASHED-RIND is a new term to me.
  • UFOS (29D: "Mars Attacks!" ships) Mars Attacks! is a trading card game released by Topps in 1962. The cards form a story arc, telling of an invasion of the Earth by Martians arriving in UFOS. A 1996 movie of the same name was based on the trading cards.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ANNE (14A: "Rachel Getting Married" actress Hathaway) Rachel Getting Married is a 2008 movie.  ANNE Hathaway portrays Kym Buchman, a woman in rehab for alcohol use, who is released to attend her sister Rachel's wedding. ANNE Hathaway received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance.
  • NATO (21A: ___ phonetic alphabet) I am continuing my quest to review the NATO phonetic alphabet each time it appears in the puzzle. Today I remind myself that in the NATO alphabet, J is for Juliett, K is for kilo, and L is for Lima.
  • OCEAN (31A: Beluga's home) The beluga whale is white, allowing it to camouflage itself among polar ice caps. The majority of belugas live in the Arctic OCEAN, and in the seas around North America, Russia, and Greenland. Beluga whales have a distinctive bulge at the top of the head which houses an echolocation organ called the melon.
  • SAFE (35A: "The runner was not tagged out!") This clue amused me, because it led me to imagine what baseball games would be like if instead of "SAFE!," umpires consistently yelled, "The runner was not tagged out!"
  • ALOO (54A: ___ paratha (potato-filled dish)) Time for my occasional reminder (just one of the many services Sally's Take offers!) that ALOO is a South Asian term for potatoes. When you notice a dish in a crossword clue contains potato, the answer may be ALOO. 
  • CAIN (55A: "___'s Jawbone" (murder mystery puzzle)) This answer is coincidental, because I was just talking about the book CAIN's Jawbone with my daughter two days ago. CAIN's Jawbone is a murder mystery book written by Edward Powys Mathers under the pseudonym "Torquemada." Originally published in 1934, CAIN's Jawbone was republished in 2019. The 100 pages of the book are printed in an incorrect order. The challenge for the reader is to rearrange the pages in an order that makes sense, and in so doing discover the names of the murderers and victims in the story. Both times the book was published, a prize was offered for the correct solution. The solution of the book has never been published, and only four people have solved the puzzle, two in 1935, one discovered in 2016, and one in 2020. I received a copy of CAIN's Jawbone for Christmas last year, and I understand why only four people have successfully solved the puzzle! (My daughter, it should be noted, has complete faith that if I applied myself I could become the fifth person in this elite group. I have my doubts.)
  • DEE (61A: "Mudbound" director Rees) Mudbound is a 2017 movie based on a 2008 novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan. The movie is a historical drama telling the story of two World War II veterans – one white, one Black – who return home to Mississippi after the war. DEE Rees won a New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Director for Mudbound
  • NNEDI (3D: "Akata Witch" author Okorafor) Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor tells the story of 12-year-old Sunny who was born in New York City, but lives in Nigeria. Sunny is Black and albino and struggles to fit in. Things get even more interesting when Sunny discovers she has the ability to do magic. In Nigeria and the United Kingdom the book was retitled What Sunny Saw in the Flames.
  • ARTS (25D: Bunraku and basketry, e.g.) Bunraku is a form of traditional Japanese puppet theater. Basketry is the ART of weaving baskets. By providing two examples in the clue, solvers are given a chance to successfully come up with the answer, even if they are only familiar with one of these ARTS.
  • HALO (28D: Beyonce hit with an angelic title) BeyoncĂ©'s 2008 song, "HALO," is from her album, I Am...Sasha Fierce. "Standing' in the light of your HALO / I got my angel now..."
  • COIN (32D: Loonie or dime) A loonie is the name given to the Canadian one-dollar COIN. Most versions of the COIN feature a common loon on the reverse side. The dime is worth ten cents, and is the thinnest of the U.S. COINs.
  • ELSE (33D: Nothing ___ Matters" (Metallica song)) "Nothing ELSE Matters" is a 1992 song by Metallica. 
  • LIP (34D: Bad ___ Reading (YouTube channel)) Bad LIP Reading is a YouTube channel that takes video clips and intentionally LIP-reads them poorly for comedic effect. 

    Geography review:

    • EAST L.A. (8A: SoCal area with the Latino Walk of Fame) The Latino Walk of Fame is on Whittier Boulevard in EAST L.A. Sadly, the Whittier Boulevard Merchants Association has struggled to find funding to complete the Latino Walk of Fame. The Walk is a series of sundial plaques, each costing about $10,000. The first plaque was placed in 1997. There is space for 280 plaques, and 20 have been installed so far. 
    • ONE (43A: Number of U.S. states that start with a D) Delaware is the ONE U.S. state whose name begins with the letter D. The capital of Delaware is Dover, which is one of three U.S. state capitals that start with a D. Time for a Geography Review Quiz: In addition to Dover, which two state capitals begin with the letter D? The answer will be at the end of this blog post.
    This puzzle is an example of a classic USA Today theme type, with the theme answers splitting a word such that the letters of that word appear at the ends of the entries. I guessed the theme from the title, but that never detracts from the solve for me. (Instead, it makes me feel like I'm really smart.) In addition to the answers highlighted above, I also enjoyed GEODES, WAHOO, HOT AIR, SALSA CLUB, and TEASER ADS. Thank you, Stella, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Saturday.

    Answer to Geography Review Quiz: The three U.S. state capitals that start with a D are Dover, Delaware; Denver, Colorado; and Des Moines, Iowa.