February 10, 2024

Title: GG

Constructors: Rafael Musa & Rebecca Goldstein

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
GRETA GERWIG (16A: "Barbie" director)
GUESSING GAME (27A: Twenty Questions or I Spy)
GREEN GODDESS (45A: Herbaceous dressing named for its color)
GARDEN GNOME (58A: Bearded statue on a lawn)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer has the initials GG. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • DRINK (12A: Hop water or watermelon seltzer, e.g.) Hop water, sometimes referred to as hop seltzer, is carbonated water infused with the flavor of hops. Likewise, watermelon seltzer is carbonated water infused with watermelon.
  • PIANO (14A: Instrument for Mary Lou Williams) Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) was a jazz pianist, arranger, and composer. She wrote and arranged songs for many jazz artists, including Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. She learned to play the PIANO when she was four years old.
  • GRETA GERWIG (16A: "Barbie" director) Here's a fun thing. In the time I have been blogging about the USA Today puzzle (since June 9, 2020), GRETA GERWIG has appeared as a theme answer three times. On November 11, 2020, GRETA GERWIG was a theme answer and the clue was ["Lady Bird" director]. On December 5, 2021, the clue for GRETA GERWIG was [Director of "Little Women"]. And today, of course, we have her clued for directing the 2023 movie Barbie. I detect a pattern here! I enjoyed all three of these movies. I would be in favor of GRETA GERWIG continuing to direct movies and appear as a theme answer.
  • TSA (37A: Org. aptly hidden in "flight safety") The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to improve airport security following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
  • GREEN GODDESS (45A: Herbaceous dressing named for its color) GREEN GODDESS salad dressing is typically made of mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, chives, tarragon, anchovy, lemon juice, and pepper. It's said that the dressing was invented in San Francisco in 1923 as a tribute to actor George Arliss who was starring in William Archer's play titled The GREEN GODDESS.
  • I AM (57A: "___ ... Sasha Fierce") I AM... Sasha Fierce is the title of BeyoncĂ©'s 2008 studio album.
  • EDGE (1D: "The ___ of Glory" (Lady Gaga song)) Lady Gaga's song "The EDGE of Glory" was released in 2011. It has been my earworm since I read this clue.
  • PAW (6D: Body part a cat uses to "make biscuits") "Making biscuits," also referred to as kneading or rhythmic PAWing is one way a cat expresses contentment. Willow has a routine of kneading my neck before she settles down for the night. It's a bit like receiving a kitty massage.
    A calico cat placing her paw on a woman's nose.
    Willow and me

    Sometimes, though, instead of making biscuits, Willow simply places her PAW on my face and leaves it there. What does that mean?
  • DOG TAG (8D: Certain pet collar attachment) This puzzle has something for cat people and dog people.
  • AGE (24D: Get older) and BDAY (53D: Time for a cake with candles, for short) If today is your BDAY, this pair of clues is for you.
  • ASTRONAUT (33D: Profession of many characters in "For All Mankind") For All Mankind is a sci-fi TV series imagining what might have happened if the global space race had continued in an alternate reality in which a Soviet ASTRONAUT was the first human to land on the Moon. The show's name is taken from a plaque that Apollo 11 ASTRONAUTs placed on the Moon: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."
  • NPR (61D: "All Things Considered" network) All Things Considered is a radio news program on NPR. It premiered in 1971, and was NPR's first news program. Hosted by Mary Louise Kelly, Ari Shapiro, Alisa Chang, and Juana Summers, the daily show highlights the news and offers news analysis.
  • A few more clues I especially enjoyed:
    • EAT (19A: "I'm so hungry I could ___ a horse!")
    • AHEAD (63A: "Road work ___? Uh, yeah, I sure hope it does!" (viral Vine))
    • NAME NAMES (34D: Reveal your accomplices)

    Geography review:

    • MAUI (30D: Island home to the 'Iao Valley State Monument) MAUI is Hawaii's second largest island (after Hawai'i). 'Iao Valley State Monument is a state park located on the west side of MAUI. A landmark of the park is Kuka'emoku – aka the 'Iao Needle – a lava remnant that rises 1,200 feet.
    • SAMOA (51D: Island country home to the Alofaaga Blowholes) SAMOA is an island country located about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, in the Pacific Ocean. The Alofaaga Blowholes are a natural feature located on SAMOA's largest island, Savai'i. Also known as the Taga Blowholes, they are a series of tubes created by lava flows that connect a flat clifftop with the ocean. When waves break against the lower end of the tubes, it sends water up the tubes, creating fountains of water on the clifftop. 
    GG is an abbreviation used in video gaming to mean "good game." It is often exchanged at the end of a competitive game as a show of good sportsmanship. As today's theme, GG takes on a bunch of different meanings – I enjoyed discovering each one. Thank you, Rafa and Rebecca for this delightful puzzle. GG