February 20, 2024


Constructor: Jared Cappel

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

Theme Answers:
COUNTRY CLUB (17A: Swanky place to socialize)
HOUSE SALAD (34A: Classic dish of greens)
ROCK LOBSTER (54A: B-52s hit with a crustacean in the title)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a type of MUSIC: COUNTRY, HOUSE, and ROCK. The second word in each theme answer is something you might eat for DINNER: a CLUB (sandwich), a SALAD, and LOBSTER.

Things I learned:
  • LEES (25A: Author/journalist Paris) What It Feels Like For a Girl is the memoir of Paris LEES, which was published in 2021. In addition to being an author, Paris LEES is a columnist at Vogue and a presenter on BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4. She also serves as a consultant for All About Trans, an organization that works to "promote trans voices in the media."
  • DANA (32A: "Heroes" actress Davis) Heroes is a TV series that originally aired from 2006-2010. The premise of the show is to tell the stories of ordinary people that discover they have superhuman abilities. Beginning in the show's second season, DANA Davis played the role of Monica Dawson, a restaurant worker who can mimc physical movements she sees. 
  • IRA (50A: Bollywood actress Dubey) Bollywood actress IRA Dubey has appeared in a number of TV shows and movies. She is currently part of the cast of the Indian Hindi-language TV series, Scoop
  • MAYO (9D: Chivito condiment) A chivito is a sandwich with beefsteak, mozzarella, ham, tomatoes,  olives, and MAYO. Chivito is the national dish of Uruguay.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GEO (17A: Prefix for "logical" or "cache") GEOlogical is an adjective used to refer to GEOlogy, a science relating to Earth, particularly rocks. A GEOcache is a container of items (usually a logbook, pencil, and a variety of small, inexpensive objects) which is hidden at a specific location for searchers to find using GPS coordinates. There are GEOcaches hidden in a variety of places. Check out geocaching.com to learn more.
  • LIAM (28A: Name hidden in "parliament") If you're wondering where LIAM is, he's in parliament.
  • TONI (47A: Morrison who said, "Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind") This is a fabulous quote from writer, professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner TONI Morrison (1931-2019). At a time when some people want to ban books and shut down libraries, I'm in favor of celebrating the power of books.
  • MENA (48A: Actor Massoud in the live-action "Aladdin" remake) Disney's 2019 movie Aladdin is a live-action remake of the 1992 animated film of the same name. MENA Massoud plays the role of Aladdin.
  • ROCK LOBSTER (54A: B-52s hit with a crustacean in the title) Fun to have a song from the new wave band The B-52s used to clue the theme answer that points to ROCK music. The B-52s released the song "ROCK LOBSTER" in 1978 (and then re-released it in 1979). 
  • IAN (7D: Folk singer Janis) You may remember Janis IAN's hits, "Society's Child," and "At Seventeen." Did you know Janis IAN also writes science fiction? Some of her short stories have been published in anthologies. She also co-edited the anthology Stars: Original Stories Based on the Songs of Janis Ian.
  • COM (21D: www.blackwomenradicals.___) Black Women Radicals is an advocacy organization "committed to empowering Black women and gender expansive activists."
  • DUET (32D: Song such as "Crazier Than You") "Crazier Than You" is a song from the 2010 Broadway musical The Addams Family, which is based on the Charles Addams characters. The DUET is sung by the characters Wednesday Addams and Lucas Beineke. 
  • ATLANTIS (36D: Lost city that Milo Thatch finds) Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) is the protagonist of Disney's 2001 animated movie ATLANTIS: The Lost Empire. Milo Thatch is an archeologist that believes in the existence of ATLANTIS, and leads an expedition to discover it. 
  • AAS (46D: Talkboy batteries) A Talkboy is a handheld voice recorder marketed as a novelty toy in the 1990s. The Talkboy was conceived as a prop for the 1992 movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. A version of the prop was then marketed as a promotional tie-in. The Talkboy ran on four AA batteries. 

    Geography review:

    • IDA (57A: ___ B. Wells Drive (Chicago street)) IDA B. Wells Drive is a street in downtown Chicago, Illinois. In 2018, the street was renamed from Congress Parkway to IDA B. Wells Drive to honor investigative journalist and civil rights activist IDA B. Wells (who I have written about previously). I have driven on IDA B. Wells Drive multiple times, so I knew this answer right away. However, I like that the answer is accessible to solvers who are familiar with IDA B. Wells, even if they weren't aware that Chicago has named a street for her. 
    • LAOS (5D: Luang Prabang's country) Luang Prabang (which means "Royal Buddha Image") is a city in north central LAOS. The city is comprised of 58 adjacent villages. Thirty-three of the villages that comprise Luang Prabang were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 for their architectural, religious, and cultural significance. 
    It's fun to see a theme that refers to both parts of the theme answers. Congratulations to Jared Cappel on this USA Today debut! Thank you, Jared, for this enjoyable puzzle.