February 24, 2024


Constructor: Noelle Griskey

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

Theme Answers:
ALL-WHEEL DRIVE (19A: Car feature that offers better traction)
COMMERCIAL BREAK (35A: Interruption for ads)
WHO AM I TO JUDGE (54A: "Why think less of them, considering my own flaws?")

Theme synopsis: The END word of each theme answer can be place after the word LINE to form a new phrase. We have LINE DRIVE, LINE BREAK, and LINE JUDGE.

Things I learned:
  • TOAD (27A: ___ the Wet Sprocket (band with an amphibian in its name)) TOAD the Wet Sprocket is an alt rock band formed in 1986 in Santa Barbara, California. Its members were teenagers at the time, and knew each other from high school. The band's name comes from a nonsensical musical news report in a Monty Python comedy sketch. The band's 2021 album is titled Starting Now.
  • OCELOT (2D: Spotted wildcat in some Moche art) The Moche people lived in northern Peru from about 100 to 700 C.E. The Moche were an agricultural people, and are known for their elaborately painted ceramics. Some Moche artwork featured animals, including the OCELOT, a medium-sized spotted wildcat native to South America, Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. Willow is happy to see a mention of her wildcat cousin in this puzzle. 
    A medium-haired calico cat is looking solemnly at the camera
  • ATE (11D: Enjoyed some suya) Suya is a traditional skewered meat dish that originated in West Africa. It is a national dish of Nigeria. Thinly sliced meat is marinated in spices; the marinade contains a dehydrated peanut cookie (some recipes substitute peanut butter powder). The meat is then skewered and grilled. 
  • ACE (28D: Card worth 15 points in Liverpool rummy) Liverpool rummy is a card game variant of rummy. Liverpool rummy consists of seven rounds of play. The objective is to be holding the lowest valued cards at the end of each round. The player with the lowest score at the end of the seven rounds wins the game. It is not advisable to have an ACE or a joker in your hand at the end of a round, as each of those cards is worth 15 points. Tens and face cards are worth ten points, and all other cards are five points each.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SACHA (13A: Comedian ___ Baron Cohen) SACHA Baron Cohen is a comedian known for his creation of fictional satirical personas that interact with unsuspecting subjects. SACHA Baron Cohen co-wrote and starred in the 2020 movie Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The movie, a sequel to SACHA Baron Cohen's 2006 move, and known for obvious reasons as Borat 2, features his fictional character Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakh journalist and TV personality.
  • LIN (42A: The Peace Chapel architect Maya) The Peace Chapel is an open-air chapel located on top of a mountain. Completed in 1989, it is part of the Baker-Henry Nature Preserve in central Pennsylvania. The Peach Chapel was designed by architect Maya LIN, whom I have previously written about
  • ADO (59A: "Much ___ About Nothing") Much ADO About Nothing is a William Shakespeare play written around 1598-1599. Over 430 years later, the play continues to be performed. It has also been adapted numerous times for TV and film.
  • GOAT (66A: Source of milk for tulum cheese) Tulum cheese is a traditional Turkish GOAT's milk cheese.
  • MARLO (1D: "Free To Be ... You and Me" creator Thomas) Free To Be ... You and Me is a record album and illustrated book for children created by actress and author MARLO Thomas. The children's entertainment project was first released in 1972. The album included songs and stories and featured Alan Alda, Cicely Tyson, Carol Channing, and other celebrities. A TV special was also produced, and aired on ABC in 1974. The project's goal was to convey the message that anyone – regardless of gender – can achieve anything. I was a child when this project was launched, and I still have a copy of the book Free To Be ... You and Me.
  • APNEA (5D: Sleep disorder) Sleep APNEA refers to a condition where a person's breathing temporarily stops more often than normal (defined as more than five times per hour) while they are sleeping. The condition disrupts normal sleep. Sleep APNEA is fairly common, and affects millions of people globally. 
  • TEN (12D: 4.7 + 5.3) I'm being asked to add decimals to solve a crossword? Fabulous!
  • COLD (35D: Like gazpacho and ajoblanco) Gazpacho is a COLD tomato-based vegetable soup. Ajoblanco is a COLD soup made of bread, almonds, and garlic. It is often served with grapes or slices of melon. Both of these COLD soups originated from Spain. Ajoblanco is sometimes referred to as "white gazpacho."
  • JONG (56D: "Fear of Flying" author Erica) Fear of Flying is a 1973 book by Erica JONG. While on a trip to Vienna with her second husband, the novel's protagonist and narrator, Isadora Wing, indulges her sexual fantasies with another man. At the time Fear of Flying was published, it was controversial for its portrayal of female sexuality.

    Geography review:

    • OCEANS (31A: Indian and Arctic, for two) The Indian OCEAN is located between southern Asia, Africa, and Australia. It is the third largest of Earth's five OCEANS. The Arctic OCEAN is the smallest of the OCEANS. It is located north of North America and Eurasia, and includes the North Pole.
    • SEDONA (46D: Arizona city near Cathedral Rock) SEDONA is a city in north-central Arizona. Located within the Coconino National Forest, SEDONA is known for its natural beauty, which includes formations of red sandstone.
    • LEI (58D: Waikiki garland) Waikiki is a neighborhood in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is known for Waikiki Beach, located on the south shore of the island of Oahu.
    I enjoyed this "words paired with another word" themed puzzle. I caught onto the theme after filling in ALL-WHEEL DRIVE, and confirmed it when I filled in COMMERCIAL BREAK, and the fabulous entry "WHO AM I TO JUDGE?". I especially enjoyed seeing BIKE LANE in today's puzzle. Congratulations to Noelle Griskey making a USA Today debut! We've had several debuts this week, and it's great to see. Thank you, Noelle, for this delightful puzzle. 


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