December 27, 2020


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SEALS OF APPROVAL (9D: Official endorsements)
MASTERS OF ARTS (13D: Easygoing personality designation)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer fits the pattern (plural noun) OF (word beginning with A), and as a result contains the word SOFA. Since the theme answers are all Down answers, these SOFAs are DROP SEATS.

Things I learned:
  • HUMOR (40A: Michael Arceneaux genre) Michael Arceneaux is the author of I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in BeyoncĂ©. Appropriately, this answer provided me some HUMOR this morning. I did not recognize Michael Arceneaux's name. However, when I began researching him and came across the title of his first book, I thought, "Hmmm, that sounds familiar." (Checked ordering history...) Yes, I actually purchased this book last year as a Christmas present for my daughter! File this one under "things I relearned because I'd forgotten them." Michael Arceneaux's second book is titled, I Don't Want to Die Poor. It expands on an essay he wrote for The New York Times about his student loan debt. 
  • EPS (63A: TV bosses, for short) One thing I learned today is that EP can be used to refer to executive producers.
  • SALAAM (21D: "Punching the Air" co-author Yusef) Yusef SALAAM is one of the Exonerated Five, five men who were falsely arrested and convicted of assaulting and raping a woman in Central Park in 1989. The men were youths at the time - Black and Latino teenagers from 14 to 16 years of age. They all served prison sentences before being exonerated in 2002. The 2019 Netflix miniseries, When They See Us, is based on their story. Punching the Air, written by Yusef SALAAM and Ibi Zoboi is a young adult novel about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. 
  • LIU (38D: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Xiaobo) LIU Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." LIU was in prison at the time of his award, and was the second Nobel Prize recipient to be denied the right to have a representative collect the prize for him. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SPF (9A: Stat that's often 30 or 50) SPF, or sun protection factor, is a rating introduced in 1974 which is used to evaluate the effectiveness of sunscreen in blocking UV-rays. A sunscreen with SPF 30 means that 1/30 of the UV rays will reach the skin. (This assumes the sunscreen has been applied evenly at the recommended dosage.) A person who would suffer a sunburn in 10 minutes when not wearing sunscreen would take 300 minutes (5 hours) to develop a sunburn if wearing SPF 30 sunscreen. 
  • GADOT (42A: Actress Gal) Gal GADOT plays the role of Wonder Woman in several movies, including the recently released Wonder Woman 1984, a sequel to the 2017 movie, Wonder Woman. Gal GADOT is also a former Miss Israel, winning the beauty pageant in 2004, at the age of 18.
  • BONO (54A: "Becoming Chaz" subject) Becoming Chaz is a 2011 documentary about Chaz BONO.
Geography review:
  • DES (35D: ___ Moines International Airport) Hey, I've been to that airport! Located in DES Moines, Iowa, the DES Moines International Airport (Those of us living in Iowa are amused by the International designation.) is used by 2.9 million passengers a year. Compare this to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, which serves over 83 million passengers a year. (These are pre-COVID-19 numbers, of course.)
It's Sunday, and that means Zhouqin Burnikel is DROPping another enjoyable puzzle on us, this time complete with three SOFAs we can relax on while solving. I enjoyed the theme answers with their repeating ___ OF ___ pattern. I also especially liked THIS IS IT, and FRUITY Pebbles (which are EDIBLE and do not ROT). I appreciated learning about Yusef SALAAM and LIU Xiabo, and being reminded of the HUMOR of Michael Arceneaux. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Sunday morning.