February 26, 2024


Constructor: Billy Ouska

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

Theme Answers:
METEOR SHOWER (5D: Event with shooting stars)
CEMENT MIXER (10D: Concrete-making device)
BAD RECEPTION (22D: Cause of a dropped call)
DROP THE BALL (26D: Make a blunder)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each vertical (DOWN) theme answer is a type of PARTY. Today we're going to PARTY DOWN at a SHOWER, a MIXER, a RECEPTION, and a BALL.

Things I learned:
  • ELMER (18A: ___ T. Lee (premium bourbon)) ELMER T. Lee (1919-2013) was a master distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. He is known for launching the single-barrel bourbon brand Blanton's. After he retired, Buffalo Trace Distillery honored him by creating a single-barrel brand called ELMER T. Lee Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
  • TARO (68A: Root vegetable in takihi) Takihi is a dish of thinly sliced TARO and papaya, which are layered, covered with coconut cream, and baked. Takihi originates from the Polynesian island of Niue.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • BAND (1A: Blackpink or Green Day) Blackpink is a South Korean girl group. I learned about this band from crosswords. Green Day is a rock BAND formed in California in 1987. It was a fun decision to use BANDs with colorful names. This is also an example of a clue providing two examples, which allows solvers to be successful even if they are familiar with only one of these BANDs.
  • UCLA (9A: Arther Ashe's alma mater) Unsurprisingly, Arthur Ashe attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on a tennis scholarship. After earning a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from UCLA, Arthur Ashe served two years in the U.S. Army before he began his professional tennis career.
  • ERIC (14A: Actor McCormack) ERIC McCormack portrayed Will Truman on the TV sitcom Will and Grace. Currently, he portrays Richard Wagner, the founder and editor-in-chief of a publishing company, on the Hulu TV series The Other Black Girl.
  • NBA (21A: Victor Wembanyama's org.) I mentioned Victor Wembanyama in my November 7, 2023 blog post, noting that he is tied with Boban Marjanović as the tallest player in the NBA. Victor Wembanyama is 7 feet 4 inches tall, and plays for the San Antonio Spurs.
  • ERR (29A: Make a blunder) and DROP THE BALL (26D: Make a blunder) I enjoyed this clue echo.
  • TYPO (38A: Thiis clue has one) From a constructing standpoint, the word "TYPO" is such a great answer, because there are so many creative and fun ways to clue it. (Yes, I have a clue in mind for when I eventually put TYPO in one of my puzzles.) I confess that I did not notice the TYPO in this clue the first time I read it.
  • POURED (55A: Rained cats and dogs) The origin of the phrase "rained cats and dogs" to mean rained heavily or POURED, is unclear. Regardless of the origin of the phrase, I'm guessing it has endured because it sounds silly. Speaking of silly phrases, I enjoyed reading this Wikipedia list of expressions in other languages that describe pouring rain. It includes such gems as "falling wheelbarrows" (Czech), "raining chair legs" (Greek), and "raining like a peeing cow" (French).
    A calico cat sitting on top of an iPad.
    My cat, Willow, is puzzled by this expression, but always happy to see a cat mention in the puzzle. After I solved today's puzzle on my iPad, Willow immediately laid down on my iPad, giving the puzzle her blessing, I imagine. 
  • DANCE (4D: Tufo or tango) Tufo is a traditional DANCE in Mozambique. It is usually performed by groups of women, who typically DANCE while kneeling, rhythmically moving the top half of their bodies. The dancers are accompanied by drummers. The tango is a partner DANCE that originated from Argentina and Uruguay.
  • METEOR SHOWER (5D: Event with shooting stars) A METEOR, known informally as a shooting star, is a particle of matter in the solar system that is visible because of the incandescence (streak of light) produced as it enters the atmosphere. Some METEORs are debris from comets. When a number of METEORs are visible within a short period of time, it is referred to as a METEOR SHOWER.
  • URL (9D: earthday.org, e.g.) Earthday.org's mission is to "diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide." One of the organization's taglines is "It's not a day, it's a movement."
  • ODE (20D: "___ to Suburbia" (Eavan Boland poem)) Eavan Boland (1944-2020) was an Irish poet and professor. You can read her poem, "ODE to Suburbia," on the Poetry Foundation website. We see ODE often as a crossword answer, and I'm a fan of clueing the word to a specific ODE. The answer is inferable in most cases, and it's an opportunity to introduce solvers to poems they might not otherwise be familiar with.
  • POOR (35D: "___ Unfortunate Souls") "POOR Unfortunate Souls" is a song from Disney's movie The Little Mermaid. It is sung by Ursula the Sea Witch. 
  • PLATT (52D: "Theater Camp" actor Ben) Theater Camp is a 2023 mockumentary about a summer camp experience. Ben PLATT stars as Amos Klobuchar.
  • WYATT (54D: "Parks and Recreation" character Ben) I enjoyed the consecutive mentions of Ben in these clues. Ben WYATT, portrayed by Adam Scott is a character on the TV sitcom Parks and Recreation. I have only seen a few episodes of Parks and Rec, and I might not have known this answer, except that my husband and I recently listened to the audiobook of Amy Poehler's memoir, Yes, Please. Amy Poehler portrays Leslie Knope, the main character on the show, and in her memoir she discusses the show, and some of the characters, including Ben WYATT. 
  • MEN (65D: Kye Allums and John Krasinski, e.g.) Kye Allums is a transgender advocate and public speaker. He was the first publicly transgender person to play NCAA Division I basketball. John Krasinski is an actor and filmmaker. He has an extensive filmography, which includes playing the title character in the TV series Jack Ryan
  • A few other clues I especially enjoyed:
    • DIRTY (32A: Like some jokes and martinis)
    • LIBRARY (57A: Bibliophile's happy place)
    • TWIN (71A: Sibling that might be involved in a plot twist)
    • END (66D: Appropriate place for this answer)

Geography review:

  • ERIE (30D: Pennsylvania city bordering a Great Lake) ERIE, Pennsylvania is located on Lake ERIE. It is the county seat of ERIE County, Pennsylvania. This is the third time we've seen our crossword-friend ERIE this month.
  • ARID (6D: Like the Saharan climate) The Sahara Desert – with its ARID climate – covers much of North Africa, extending across parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, and Tunisia. The Sahara is the largest hot dessert in the world.
It's Monday, so let's get this week started and PARTY DOWN. This is a classic USA Today theme type, and I enjoyed discovering the vertical theme answers and the types of parties they featured. Thank you, Billy, for this joyful puzzle. 


  1. Thanks again for the review, Sally! -Billy


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