November 6, 2020


Constructor: Martha Kimes

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
ELECTRIC EEL (17A: Shocking swimmer)
RED LICORICE (50A: Makeup of some "vines") 
POLAR ICE CAP (11D: Shrinking Arctic formation)
TRICERATOPS (23D: Dinosaur with three horns)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains the letter string R-I-C-E.

Things I learned:
  • OUR (16A: "Within ___ Gates" (1920 film)) Within OUR Gates is a silent film written, directed, and produced by Oscar Micheaux. The movie portrays life during the early twentieth century, the years of Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration of Blacks to the North and Midwest, and the emergence of the "New Negro." Within OUR Gates is the oldest known surviving film made by a Black director. For decades the film was presumed lost, until a copy was discovered in Spain in the 1970s. In 1993, the film was restored as closely as possible to the original by the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center.
  • HUCK (7D: Long throw in Ultimate) Ultimate, also known as Ultimate Frisbee, is a team sport played with a flying disc (Frisbee). Ultimate differs from most other sports by relying on self-officiating at most levels of competition. Players call their own fouls, officiating in the "spirit of the game" (SOTG) - an expectation that each player will be a good sport and play fair. 
  • ROSE (18D: Kelly Marie Tran's "Star Wars" role) Kelly Marie Tran portrayed ROSE Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Tran had never watched a Star Wars movie before auditioning for the part.
  • ITO (54D: Pritzker Prize-winning architect Toyo) A Japanese architect known for creating conceptual architecture, Toyo ITO has been called one of the world's most innovative and influential architects. ITO won the Pritzker Prize, one of architecture's most prestigious prizes, in 2013.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • CAROLE (27A: Singer-songwriter King) "You've Got a Friend," "Where You Lead," "I Feel the Earth Move," "It's Too Late," and so many more great songs have been written by CAROLE King. She has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting.
  • ROCK (35A: Brittany Howard genre) Brittany Howard is the lead vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter for the ROCK bands Alabama Shakes and Thunderbitch.
  • AFROPUNK (41A: Music festival whose 2019 performers included Jill Scott and FKA Twigs) The AFROPUNK Festival features live music, movies, and art produced by Black artists. Jill Scott is a singer, poet, and actress (who we just saw in yesterday's puzzle). FKA Twigs is a singer-songwriter and dancer whose most recent album is Magdalene.
  • RED LICORICE (50A: Makeup of some "vines") This was a delightful clue! I also find RED LICORICE vines delightful.
  • DEE (9D: Actress and civil rights activist Ruby) Ruby DEE played the role of Ruth Younger in the stage and film versions of A Raisin in the Sun. In addition to acting, DEE was a well-known civil rights activist. She emceed the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and gave the eulogy at Malcolm X's funeral in 1965.
  • POLAR ICE CAP (11D: Shrinking Arctic formation) The POLAR ICE CAP is the sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean which undergoes a regular seasonal cycle of melting and refreezing. In recent decades the POLAR ICE CAP has been melting faster than it refreezes. You probably already know this is not a good thing. Climate change is a pressing issue that we need to prioritize.
  • OZARK (29D: Netflix drama set in Missouri) OZARK is a TV series about a couple who relocate their family to the Lake of the Ozarks region in central Missouri to set up a money laundering operation. Although the series is set at a Lake of the Ozarks waterfront resort (inspired by the Alhonna Resort and Marina), most of the filming is done in the Atlanta area at Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier.
  • FOMO (47D: Acronymic feeling) That's the Fear Of Missing Out.

    Geography review:
    • DES (52D: ___ Moines, Iowa) DES Moines is the capital and most populous city in Iowa. However, just to maintain some perspective, let's remember that it would take over 38 cities the size of DES Moines to equal the population of New York City.

    Placing two theme answers horizontal and two vertical often places fewer constraints on the grid, allowing for smoother fill. That was the case here, with smooth fill all around. The grid shape with the two diagonals of black squares leads me to imagine a creek of words flowing across the center of the puzzle. The trio of HUCK. HOCK, and HONK in the upper left corner is fun. It was interesting to learn about Within OUR Gates. I enjoyed starting my Friday morning with this MEDLEY of RICE.