Friday, December 30, 2022, Mark Valdez and Brooke Husic

Theme: To hyphenate or not to hyphenate; that is the question!

And welcome to the penultimate puzzle of 2022!

Hi Cornerites! The penultimate puzzle of 2022 was cleverly created by a crafty couple, Mark Valdez and Brooke Husic. This is not the first time these two have collaborated on a puzzle, and it shouldn't be their last. In keeping with the new Friday-styled puzzles, today's is another play-on-words that involves the "ADDition" of the word "UP", as is clued in the reveal: (71-across. Make sense, and a hint to the answers to the starred clues: ADD UP). So the added "UP" defines what each of the four theme entries has done in the form of a noun. Interesting to note, the addition of the word UP to the selected words (BREAK, MIX, SET, and MASH) could form a verb phrase and adjective, as well as a noun. In all but one case, the noun requires a hyphen; some may argue that SETUP does, too. So if I had just the tiniest of nits to pick, a theme with four hyphenated puns would've been perfect!

Note: I edited this review several times. I wish I had sent Yellowrocks - our resident grammarian - an email asking for her explanation. Nonetheless I'll try to give it my best shot! Let's explore, shall we?

20-across. *Separation after the vernal equinox?: SPRING BREAK-UP. I like the clues for all four of today's witty entries, starting with this one. Not sure if it was Mark or Brooke or both who came UP with this extremely clever idea, and the equally clever clues. Kudos! In the first of the four, "Spring" is defined as the time of the vernal equinox. And Spring goes just fine with the word "Break" (a period of time-off). SPRING BREAK has been the rite/ritual of many a college student over the years. And I'd venture a guess that many Spring Break trips result in a "Spring Break-UP"

31-across. *Nightmare for a wedding baker?: CAKE MIX-UP. Given the enormous number of weddings on any Saturday during the spring and summer, it's certainly possible that a bakery could have a "mix-up" with their deliveries, even if they used the same batter to mix up each cake. Decorations; tiers; cake toppers; who can keep them straight?? I really wanted to insert a cake-related image here, but I think it more appropriate that CrossEyedDave find one and use it in HIS comments. Dave, are you here today? Please help me out, buddy!

45-across. *Arrangement of extras for a zombie movie?: DEAD SETUP. So first, is it dead-set or dead set? Dead set is often a phrasal adjective, but it usually follows what it modifies, so it doesn't need to be hyphenated. (as in "he was dead set against it") When it precedes what it modifies, however, dead-set is correct. The one-word deadset has not fully caught on as a replacement of the two-word form, but it is gaining ground, and may someday gain acceptance [according to grammarist dot com]. The same website discussed SETUP vs set up: Is it setup or set up? Set Up – What's the Difference? Setup is one word when it is a noun (e.g., “it was a setup!”) or an adjective (e.g., “follow the setup instructions”). It is two words—set up—when it functions as a verb (e.g., “I'm going to set up the computer”). No hyphen needed; the outlier today. And now you know!

58-across. *Halloween costume that's a sheet on the bottom and a witch's hat on top?: MONSTER MASH-UP. [dictionary dot com] MASH-UP is "a mixture or fusion of disparate elements." Clearly a halloween costume with a sheet for the bottom (ghost) with a witch's hat on the top is pretty disparate. And without sounding desperate, was this puzzle that hard or am I making more of the theme and entries than I should be? Well, that's why this blog comes with a "Comments" section!

I'm interested in seeing how you all interpreted today's puzzle. But before that, let's check out another song video that fits 58-across:

1. In the lead: FIRST. I placed the word "AHEAD" in this space, and quickly fell behind

6. Word files, informally: DOCS. Microsoft WORD has been around for a long, long time. When you save something you've created in Word, the file extension is .doc

10. Box set unit: DVD. A "boxer" set unit might be: "BVD"

13. The Gem State: IDAHO. I knew this one; when I placed it into the grid (below AHEAD), something looked weird

FUN FACT: Why is Idaho called the Gem State, you ask?

14. "By yesterday!" letters: ASAP. [spoiler alert] I got today's puzzle in an email from C.C. on the 19 December; solved it, and began writing my blog on the 20th. ASAP was my cue. Then the holidays became nigh; I only got through a few of the clues, and continued/finished writing the blog on Boxing Day ...

15. Ginger or daikon: ROOT. While I would always ROOT for Ginger, I thought Mary Ann was much hotter

17. "The Princess and the Frog" setting: BAYOU. My daughter's alma mater, LSU, is sometimes nicknamed the "BAYOU Bengals" even though their "official" sports nickname is the "Fighting Tigers". Experiencing a night game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is quite an event

FUN FACT: The BAYOU Bengals nickname is now bestowed upon the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team as their starting QB and WR are both LSU grads (they played together in 2019 season when LSU won the National Championship)

18. "Carol" star Rooney: MARA. This person

19. "The Country Girls" novelist O'Brien: EDNA. This person

23. Moral wrong: SIN. Although I did not grow up Roman Catholic, I had plenty of friends who did. I came to learn that they have all different kinds of SINs. Some tried to group them all into a venial SIN so as not to lose their entire grace with God ... this image may depict otherwise:

24. Round number: ESTIMATE. So if I interpret this clue and answer correctly, 3-1/3 would NOT be an ESTIMATE?

25. "And now, without further __ ... ": ADO. I bring you the clue and answer to: "when did C-Moe have his first 2 oz. pour of brown-colored liquor as he was doing his recap?" NOW!! A little Green Spot Irish Whisky in the Glencairn

28. Take to court: SUE. It's a stretch, but "WOO" fits, doesn't it??!

30. "So?": AND.

35. Epic tales: SAGAS.

39. Streetcar: TRAM. The alternate title for the Tennessee Williams play featuring Blanche DeBois was "TRAM named Desire"

40. Thompson of "Passing": TESSA. This person

42. Draped attire: TOGA. I think I once took a pair of drapes from a curtain rod to form a TOGA ...

43. Zoom alternative: SKYPE. Four words of the 21st century that never made a crossword puzzle in the past century (at least clued as such) are: ZOOM, SKYPE, LYFT, and UBER. I'm sure there are several more ...

47. Light touch: TAP. I know someone who gets goose bumps when I give a light touch; they've never called it a "TAP"!

49. Draw: TIE. Oddly, these still exist in NFL games; only after the teams have played a ten minute overtime period

50. "This __ to stop": HAS. Not really; I'm still on the "across" clues; had this been in 50-down, it would make more sense, "Crossword Blog-wise"! ;^)

51. "Be careful!": STAY SAFE. One of my favorite uses of this clue is: "travel SAFEly"

56. Choose: OPT. I OPT for writing my blog recap in HTML

61. Strongly encourage: URGE. I URGE you to keep reading ...

62. Falsehoods: LIES. Which coincides with 1-down. (Tell 62-Across:) FIB.

63. Broadcasting: ON AIR. A sign to alert standers-by to keep quiet

66. Big do: GALA. AFRO also fits here

67. Kick back: LAZE. A favorite activity for this returee

68. Spanish royal: REINA. CSO to Lucina, our resident REINA!

69. Sweltering: HOT. Even though November and December were below average temperature-wise in AZ, we KNOW that in the summertime it will be sweltering HOT here

70. Showcase for a soprano: ARIA. Here are some you might enjoy:

Kinda sorta goes with: (57-down. Hitting all the right notes:) TUNED.

2. Civil rights pioneer __ B. Wells: IDA. This person

3. Sunbeams: RAYS. CARS would've been a cute distraction as the answer here. Anyone recall the Sunbeam automobile?

4. Selling points?: SHOPS. This clue was a bit odd, but I get it

5. Major component of Iceland's economy: TOURISM. Not on my bucket list, but it does look like an interesting place to visit. I'd bet that Picard has some photos to share

6. __ with faint praise: DAMN. [Merrium Webster dot com] says: "to give praise without enthusiasm in a way that shows one really dislikes someone or something"

7. Great Plains people who call themselves "Children of the Middle Waters": OSAGE. Learning moment

8. Pasta nutrients, for short: CARBS. [medlineplus dot com] says: "Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates (aka, CARBS) are one of three main nutrients found in foods and drinks. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs"

9. Peloponnesian city-state: SPARTA. [NationalGeographic dot org] says: "The Peloponnesian War was a war fought in ancient Greece between Athens and SPARTA—the two most powerful city-states in ancient Greece at the time (431 to 405 B.C.E.). This war shifted power from Athens to Sparta, making Sparta the most powerful city-state in the region

10. Info provided to a matchmaker, perhaps: DREAM DATE. Here are the Top 14 dating websites, according to [chicagoreader dot com]. I tried Zoosk for awhile but none of those I dated were interested in a long-term relationship. I did travel with one to Belize

11. Spirit of the cosmos?: VODKA. Cute play-on-words clue. Without the question mark, Spirit of the Cosmos would refer to this tarot deck:

But in the context of the clue and correct answer, it refers to the erstwhile most popular adult beverage (for females) known as the Cosmo. Made with VODKA. Click here for the full recipe

12. Pastry with a hole: DONUT. So, is it DONUT or DOUGHNUT? [grammerly dot com] says: "DONUT is an alternate spelling of doughnut. Some dictionaries point out that donut is rarely used outside the United States. All of them recognize doughnut as the main spelling, as do some of the more popular style guides. Doughnut might be the spelling you should use if you want to be sure you're not making a mistake

FUN FACT: According to [alexaanswers dot amazon dot com] "How many donuts are made in the US each year? 10 billion! That's a lot of holes!!

16. Cassette: TAPE. [according to npr dot org] This person invented the cassette TAPE

21. Alaskan people: INUIT. ALEUT fits; ESKIMO does not

22. Zehn minus neun: EINS. 10 minus nine (in German) = one (EINS)

25. Makes a move: ACTS. "GOES" is another four-letter word that fits here

26. __ chocolate: DARK. "MILK" is another four-letter word that fits here; I prefer DARK, and it was my first choice; guessing that some of you tried MILK first

27. "Sure": OKAY.

29. Crossed (out): EXED.

32. Focus of some special elections: EMPTY SEAT. Believe it or not, it's been 10 years since the focus of the 2012 Presidential Election was on a speech given in Tampa Florida; referencing a synonym for "SEAT"

33. Function: USE.

34. Pre-coll. exam: PSAT.

36. Ancient Teuton: GOTH.

37. __ fresca: Mexican drink: AGUA. Another CSO to Lucina?

38. Depletes: SAPS.

41. "¡Hasta mañana!": ADIOS. A third CSO to Lucina?

44. Right direction?: EAST. As in the direction that is on the right side of a compass; EAST

46. "We Belong to Something Beautiful" cosmetics chain: SEPHORA. As I filled in the puzzle, the letters from the perps helped me solve this. I don't use cosmetics but I've heard of this chain

FUN FACT: SEPHORA (founded in 1969) is a French multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products. Featuring nearly 340 brands, along with its own private label, Sephora Collection, Sephora offers beauty products including cosmetics, skincare, body, fragrance, nail color, beauty tools, body lotions and haircare [Wikipedia dot com]

48. Saffron-flavored rice dish: PAELLA. Does anyone remember their first PAELLA? I do. It was at the Columbia Restaurant Ybor City, back in the mid 1990's. I guess this could be a CSO to Wilbur Charles (and Tinbeni), our Tampa resident(s) on this chat board blog. Please take a few moments to search their website as it has some interesting history. But if you're strapped for time, here is an image of the PAELLA from their menu:

51. Self-satisfied: SMUG. I've been called this before; not a trait I'm proud of, but if the shoe fits, wear it

52. Bat mitzvah scroll: TORAH. The counter-attack on Japan in WW II by some Jewish airmen was called: "TORAH, TORAH, TORAH" ... really, Moe?!

53. __-Saxon: ANGLO.

54. Man on a mission?: FRIAR. MORMON didn't fit

55. "The Death of Vivek Oji" author Akwaeke: EMEZI. Totally solved via perps. [Wikipedia dot com] says: "The Death of Vivek Oji is a 2020 fiction novel by Nigerian author Akwaeke EMEZI. It was published on 4 August 2020 by Riverhead books, it narrates the life of Vivek Oji until his death

59. Between ports: ASEA. Crossword-ese

60. Settled: PAID. As in settled a debt

64. Shiba __: dog breed: INU. I thought I knew most all breeds of dog. I don't, obviously, because this one is unfamiliar to me. It is similar to an AKITA

FUN FACT: The Akita dog protects its family. Because of its fighting dog background, it can be aggressive toward other dogs. The Shiba Inu, on the other hand, is often more tolerant of other dogs. And if you live in a smaller space or a shared environment — like in an apartment building — the Shiba Inu is better suited to adapt. This is what one looks like:

65. Megan Thee Stallion genre: RAP. This person:

Well, my timing was better tonight as my Green Spot Irish Whisky finished just as the blog did. I hope y'all had fun with the puzzle. Please add your thoughts and comments below. Here is the grid:, and see you next year!

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