February 13, 2024

Title: DAM UP

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Anna Gundlach 

Theme Answers:
FILM ADAPTATION (4D: Movie based on a book or video game)
ATACAMA DESERT (14D: Chilean expanse that's the second-driest place on Earth)
DRAMA DESK AWARD (15D: Annual NYC theater prize)

Theme synopsis: The word DAM is found reading UP each vertical theme answer.
Things I learned:
  • SNL (67A: Chloe Troast's show) Chloe Troast joined the cast of SNL (Saturday Night Live) in October of last year. 
  • BEET (58D: Red root veggie in rosolje) Rosolje is a dish in Estonian cuisine. It is a BEET and potato salad with a cream-based dressing. Some versions of rosolje contain herring. I was thankful for the "red root veggie" hint here.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ISH (7A: "Kinda") and SORTA (51A: "Kinda") This is kinda a fun pair of clues.
  • SATIRE (13A: Reductress genre) Reductress is a SATIRE website. The site was founded in 2013 by Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo. It parodies the style and tone of media targeted towards women. One Reductress headline that made me laugh is "Nice! This Woman Just Journaled so She Should Be Set for Next Ten Months."
  • EVAN (19A: "Mare of Easttown" actor Peters) Mare of Easttown is a crime drama miniseries that originally aired on HBO in 2021. Kate Winslet portrayed Marianne "Mare" Sheehan, a detective investigating the murders of two young girls. EVAN Peters plays the role of Colin Zabel, a county detective called in to assist Mare.
  • MEN (35A: Elliot Page and Chaz Bono, e.g.) Elliot Page plays the role of Viktor Hargraves in the TV series The Umbrella Academy. He also stars in the 2023 indie film Close To You, which he co-wrote and co-produced. Chaz Bono plays the role of Sheriff Carlson in the 2023 slasher movie The Bell Keeper.
  • BRAID (38A: Make challah, say) Challah is a bread made from an egg-rich yeast dough. The dough is shaped into a BRAID prior to baking. Challah is eaten on Shabbat (Judaism's day of Sabbath rest) and other Jewish holidays (except Passover).
  • OED (42A: Reference work that addd "turnt" in 2023 (Abbr.)) The Oxford English Dictionary(OED) was first published by Oxford University Press in 1884. As the clue informs us, the OED added the word "turnt" in 2023, defining it as "Stimulated or intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Also: extremely energized or excited; highly charged. Also with up."
  • SOFA (45A: Spot for a catnap) Did someone mention a catnap?
    A calico cat sleeping with one paw outstretched.
  • EDEN (46A: Garden in the Quran) The Quran is the religious text of Islam. In Islam, the Garden of EDEN – referred to as Paradise – is one of the levels of the Islamic heaven.
  • TBS (49A: "Wipeout" cable channel) Wipeout is a TV game show that was rebooted on TBS in 2021. Contestants on the show compete on an obstacle course.
  • DRAMA DESK AWARD (15D: Annual NYC theater prize) The DRAMA DESK AWARD is an honor given annually to Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. In 2023, the DRAMA DESK AWARD for Best Musical was won by Some Like It Hot

    Geography review:

    • PALO (27A: ___ Alto) PALO Alto, California is in the San Francisco Bay area. PALO Alto means "tall stick" in Spanish. PALO Alto, California is named after a specific coastal redwood tree called El PALO Alto. 
    • ARAB (29A: Like many Omanis) Oman is located in West Asia, on the Arabian Peninsula. The capital of Oman is Muscat.
    • OTOE (3D: Nemaha River people) The Nemaha River basin (surrounding the Little Nemaha River and the Big Nemaha River) is located in the state of Nebraska. The OTOE tribe were historically a semi-nomadic people that lived in the Nemaha River Valley. Today the OTOE people are part of the OTOE-Missouria Tribe, which has its headquarters in Red Rock, Oklahoma.
    • ATACAMA DESERT (14D: Chilean expanse that's the second-driest place on Earth) The ATACAMA DESERT is located along the Pacific coastline of Chile, west of the Andes Mountains. ATACAMA is the largest fog DESERT in the world. In a fog DESERT, the majority of moisture needed by plants and animals is provided by fog drip. Average rainfall in the ATACAMA is about 15 mm per year (that's just 0.6 inches). The only place drier than the ATACAMA DESSERT is the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica.
    • LEI (28D: Necklace at a Maui wedding) Maui is the second-largest Hawaiian island. 
    • BOCA (53D: ___ Raton, Florida) BOCA Raton, Florida is located in Palm Beach County, about 45 miles north of Miami.
    The "word reading up a vertical answer" is a classic USA Today theme type. That means the title today let me know just what to expect. I never mind that; it make me feel smart! Thank you, Zhouqin, for this excellent puzzle.