January 25, 2024


Constructor: Malaika Handa

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
PESO PLUMA (3D: Mexico's most-streamed artist)
REAL ESTATE AGENT (7D: Person selling houses)
POUND CAKE (36D: Baked good originally made with four sticks of butter)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each vertical (DOWN) theme answer is a currency that might be used to make a PAYMENT. The DOWN PAYMENTS in today's grid are made using the PESO, the REAL, and the POUND.

Things I learned:
  • CASA (1D: ___ Rosada (workplace of Argentina's president)) CASA Rosada means "Pink House" in Spanish. Located in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, CASA Rosada is officially known as CASA de Gobierno ("Government House"), and is the official workplace of Argentina's president. The current president of Argentina is Javier Milei, who was sworn into office in December of last year.
  • PESO PLUMA (3D: Mexico's most-streamed artist) PESO PLUMA is known for his musical style that's inspired by regional Mexican music. Many of his songs are corridos, a traditional Mexican musical style of narrative ballads. In 2023, PESO PLUMA won eight Billboard Latin Music Awards, including Songwriter of the Year and Streaming Song of the Year (for "Ella Baila Sola").
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ADAM'S APPLE (17A: Throat protrusion that protects the vocal cords) In humans (both male and female), the structure known as the ADAM'S APPLE is a protrusion formed by the thyroid cartilage (connective tissue in and around the trachea in the neck). As the clue informs us, this structure helps protect the vocal cords. In males, the prominence of the ADAM'S APPLE increases during puberty.
  • CLICKY PEN (22A: Writing tool with a spring inside) Ah yes, that highly technical term, the "CLICKY PEN." I actually really like this answer, because although a PEN with a spring-loaded ink cartridge is officially termed a "retractable PEN," when was that last time you heard that term used? CLICKY PEN is a perfect descriptive term for this writing instrument that doubles as a fidget object (that may cause you to receive some pointed looks from your meeting mates...).
  • DESSERTS (29A: Post-meal treats) I am a definite fan of post-meal treats. Do you know the memory trick to make sure you're spelling DESSERTS correctly and don't inadvertently end up with a post-meal desert? (Sahara or Mojave, anyone?) The word DESSERTS has two S's, which I easily remember by reminding myself I'd like two scoops of ice cream.
  • I'M OLD (43A: Exclamation after not understanding Gen Z slang, maybe) Ha! I feel this clue.
  • OLIVE PIT (48A: Discarded bit on a charcuterie board) A charcuterie board typically contains meat, cheeses, OLIVEs, and nuts. Since the OLIVE PITs are not eaten, they are left behind as discards. I like this clue a lot.
  • OCD (52A: Condition with intrusive thoughts (Abbr.)) OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a condition characterized by intrusive thoughts that often compel an individual to perform repetitive tasks in order to relieve distress.
  • DIA (55A: Sabado o domingo) "Sábado o domingo" is Spanish for "Saturday or Sunday," and "DIA" is Spanish for "day."
  • FEMALE LEAD (65A: Feature of the movies "Kill Bill" and "Lady Bird") Uma Thurman portrays the FEMALE LEAD known as the Bride in the movies Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Volume II (2004). Saoirse Ronan portrays the titular FEMALE LEAD in the movie Lady Bird (2017).
  • LIA (5D: Swimmer Thomas) I have previously written about LIA Thomas, the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship.
  • NORI (28D: Onigiri wrapper) Onigiri is white rice formed into triangular or cylindrical shapes and wrapped with NORI (edible seaweed). Popular in Japanese cuisine, onigiri makes rice portable and easy to eat. Onigiri (made with plain rice) is different than the type of sushi known as nigiri (made with rice with vinegar, sugar, and salt).
  • SIM (32D: Video game character with a plumbob above their head) In The SIMs video games, a diamond-shaped plumbob floats above the head of the SIM the player is controlling. The color of the plumbob reflects the SIM's mood. 
  • POUND CAKE (36D: Baked good originally made with four sticks of butter) Traditionally, a POUND CAKE was made with a POUND each of butter (four sticks of butter = one POUND), flour, eggs, and sugar.
  • SADE (61D: "Lovers Rock" artist) Lovers Rock is the title of SADE's fifth studio album, released in 2000. The album's lead single is "By Your Side." 
  • DSW (66D: Footwear chain) DSW stands for Designer Shoe Warehouse, a chain of stores owned by Designer Brands, Inc.

    Geography review:

    • USA (47A: NY's country) New York (NY) is indeed in the United States of America (USA). The capital of New York is Albany, and the state's motto is "Excelsior," a Latin adverb meaning "ever upward."
    • ORO (40D: "___ y Plata" (Montana's motto)) Montana's motto, "ORO y Plata," means "Gold and Silver" in Spanish. The capital of Montana is Helena.
    Today's puzzle provides us with a review of world currencies. The PESO is the name of the currency used in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Philippines, and Uruguay. (To be clear, these countries don't use the same currency, each country has their own currency, e.g. Chilean PESO, Mexican PESO, etc.) The currency of Brazil is the REAL. Several other countries used to use REAL as their currency. Multiple countries have currency units named POUND: Egypt, Lebanon, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and the United Kingdom. In addition to the answers I've highlighted above, I also enjoyed YAPPY, TWISTER, and FOOD BLOGS. Thank you, Malaika, for this delightful puzzle.