December 21, 2023


Constructors: Darby Ratliff & Brooke Husic

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
MICHAELA GOADE (19A: "Berry Song" author and illustrator)
GORILLA GLUE (31A: Adhesive brand named for an ape)
TRAVEL AGENT (40A: Person who helps clients plan trips)
DIGITAL AGE (53A: Era that introduced laptops, tablets, etc.)

Theme synopsis: The word LAG, a synonym of TRAIL, is HIDDEN in each theme answer.
Things I learned:
  • MICHAELA GOADE (19A: "Berry Song" author and illustrator) Berry Song (2022) is a picture book written and illustrated by MICHAELA GOADE. A member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, MICHAELA GOADE is the author and illustrator of "picture books celebrating Indigenous voices." She won the Caldecott Medal in 2021 for her illustrations in We Are Water Protectors (written by Carole Lindstrom). 
  • LEE'S (32D: ___ Sandwiches (banh mi chain)) LEE'S Sandwiches is a fast food chain of restaurants founded in the 1980s by Chieu Le in San Jose, California. Bánh mì, a sandwich that originated in Vietnamese cuisine, often contains pork and vegetables, such as cucumber, pickled carrots, and daikon radishes, and is served on a baguette with chili sauce and mayo. Bánh mì is the Vietnamese word for bread.
  • ZOUK (58D: Afro-Caribbean dance style) The Afro-Caribbean dance style known as ZOUK is a partner dance. The dancers are close together, and the style is characterized by fluid, sensual movements. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • AOC (6A: Congress member in the DSA) The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is political and activist organization. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who is a member of DSA, represents New York's 14th congressional district (which includes portions of the Bronx, Queens, and Riders Island in New York City) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The use of the abbreviation DSA in the clue here is a signal that the answer is an abbreviation.
  • NEO (22A: Music genre prefix) and ALT (29A: Music genre prefix) I enjoyed this clue echo pair.
  • VHS (24A: Medium for an old copy of "Rugrats in Paris") Rugrats in Paris is an animated movie that was released in theaters on November 17, 2000. In 2001, the movie was released on VHS and DVD. I enjoyed the use of a specific movie title in this clue.
  • HAS (26A: "AMERICA ___ A PROBLEM" (Beyonce song) "AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM" is a Beyoncé song featuring Kendrick Lamar. The song is from Beyoncé's 2022 album, Renaissance.
  • BEA (30A: Co-star of Betty, Rue and Estelle on "The Golden Girls") The TV sitcom The Golden Girls (1985-1992) stars Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, and BEA Arthur. Similar to the clue for RUE that we saw three days ago, the use of first names in the clue lets us know the answer is looking for a first name.
  • GORILLA GLUE (31A: Adhesive brand named for an ape) GORILLA GLUE markets itself as being suitable "for the toughest jobs on Planet Earth."
  • ODE (43A: "___ to Kool-Aid" (Marcus Jackson poem)) You can read Marcus Jackson's "ODE to Kool-Aid" on the site.
  • AVA (47A: "Abbot Elementary" principal Coleman) On the mockumentary TV series, Abbot Elementary, Janelle James plays the role of the school's principal, AVA Coleman
  • LAS (49A: ___ Vegas Aces) The LAS Vegas Aces are a WNBA team.
  • ONS (64A: Tennis star Jabeur) ONS Jabeur is a professional tennis player from Tunisia. She has made the finals at Wimbledon in 2022 and 2023, and at the US Open in 2023.
  • FAT (67A: "My Big ___ Greek Wedding 3") My Big FAT Greek Wedding 3 was released in September of this year. As the title suggests, it is the third in the My Big FAT Greek Wedding films. Although I was looking forward to the release of this movie, I somehow missed seeing it in the theater. I see that it received mostly negative reviews, but I'll watch it at some point anyway.
  • IDA (2D: Investigative journalist Tarbell) IDA Tarbell (1857-1944) is considered a pioneer of investigative journalism. She founded the American Magazine in 1906, and wrote biographies of prominent businessmen, and articles about controversial issues of the day. Her book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, contributed to the dissolution of the Standard Oil monopoly.
  • HAVA NAGILA (25D: Jewish wedding song) "HAVA NAGILA" is a Jewish folk song. It is often the song played during the hora, a circle dance performed at some Jewish weddings. This answer brought back some memories for me. When I was growing up my family had a Harry Belafonte record, and "HAVA NAGILA" was one of the songs he sang. My sister and I enjoyed blasting the song and singing and dancing around the house.
  • LION DANCE (33D: Lunar New Year performance) During the LION DANCE, performers wearing a lion costume mimic a lion's movements in order to bring good luck and fortune in the upcoming year.
  • IDLI (54D: Fluffy rice cakes) The savory rice cakes known as IDLI originated in South India.

    Geography review:

    • ASIA (6D: Thailand's continent) Thailand is a country in Southeast ASIA. It is located on the Indochinese Peninsula, and shares borders with Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia, and has coastline along the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. The capital of Thailand is Bangkok.
    It took me a moment to see today's theme. I was originally looking for a HIDDEN "path," so there was a nice "Aha!" moment when I realized it was a different meaning of TRAIL that was HIDDEN. In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I also enjoyed I WON'T GO, BE A PAL, and GALACTIC. Thank you, Darby and Brooke, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Thursday.