February 1, 2021

Title: HOP TO IT!

Constructor: Matthew Stock

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
BUNNY SLOPE (17A: New skier's run)
KANGAROO COURT (38A: Sham trial venue)
FROG PRINCE (61A: Disney character looking for a kiss)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is an animal that HOPS: BUNNY, KANGAROO, FROG.

And now a word from our constructor:
Matthew: 38-Down was the first non-theme piece of fill in this grid, and I worked really hard to get the surrounding fill into shape so that I could use it — I’d love to see this entry and other Indigenous tribes in more puzzles more often. I’m always thankful for the editing team’s thoughtfulness, but I’m especially grateful that a few personal references made it into this puzzle. I was born in Dallas, so the clue on 13-Down is a nod to my own fandom; I currently live in Missouri, which I got to shoutout in 10-Down; and Paul Laurence Dunbar (of the 2-Down clue) is the namesake of an elementary school in East St. Louis District 189, where I have the pleasure of teaching through my Americorps program. It’s really fun for me to tuck these easter eggs in, and I hope the puzzle as a whole was fun for you.

Things I learned:
  • COLOR BAR (11D: Salon specializing in dye jobs) I was not familiar with this use of this term, but it was inferable once a few answers were filled in from crossing answers. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LEAP (15A: Huge jump) A nice bonus entry for a HOP TO IT! themed puzzle.
  • ALBA (19A: Jessica of "Fantastic Four") Jessica ALBA plays the role of Susan Storm/ Invisible Woman in the Fantastic Four movies. 
  • BEA (34A: Arthur of "The Golden Girls") BEA Arthur played the role of Dorothy Zbornak on the TV series The Golden Girls. She also played the title role in the TV series Maude
  • HARM (37A: "First, do no ___") "First, do no HARM" is a principal teaching in bioethics, and a principle taught to students in healthcare. Although the phrase (from the Latin "Primum non nocere") is often attributed to Hippocrates, this is probably inaccurate, and the exact origin of the phrase is unknown. When I hear this phrase, I do not immediately think of medicine, but rather of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. John Wesley was found of rules (as am I), and one of his legacies is a directive of "Three Simple Rules," the first of which is "Do no HARM." (In case you're interested, the other two of Wesley's rules are "Do good," and "Stay in love with God.")
  • OCT (43A: LGBT History Mo.) In the United States, Canada, and Australia, LGBT History Month is observed in OCTober to coincide with National Coming Out Day on OCTober 11. The 1979 and 1987 National Marches for LGBT rights also occurred in OCTober. LGBT History Month was started by a history teacher in Missouri named Rodney Wilson.
  • ORGAN (66A: The Phantom's instrument) The Phantom referred to here is the title character in the musical, Phantom of the Opera.
  • ALUMNI (2D: Zora Neale Hurston and Paul Laurence Dunbar vis-a-vis Howard University) Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. Her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was published in 1937. Paul Laurence Dunbar was a poet, novelist, and playwright in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As the clue mentions, Hurston and Dunbar are ALUMNI of Howard University, an HBCU (Historically Black college and university) in Washington, D.C.
  • ANYA (5D: Actress Taylor-Joy) ANYA Taylor-Joy recently received recognition and kudos for her portrayal of Beth Harmon in the miniseries, The Queen's Gambit. She has been nominated for a Critics' Choice Award for Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie for that performance.
  • CEO (7D: Iman, for IMAN Cosmetics) Iman is a model and actress. She founded IMAN Cosmetics in 1994, focusing on difficult-to-find shades for women. Even if you were not familiar with Iman, the answer is inferable. I've mentioned before that I like the use of the answer CEO to highlight women in business. 
  • RAPS (8D: Makes music like Lauryn Hill) Lauryn Hill was a member of the hip hop group, The Fugees, and has also had a solo career. Her 1998 debut solo album was titled, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  • NBA TEAM (13D: The Mavs, for one) The NBA TEAM the Dallas Mavericks, also known as the Mavs, play their home games at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
  • CAST (36D: "Dear Evan Hansen" prop that's sawed off at intermission) Dear Evan Hansen won six Tony Awards in 2017, including Best Musical. The title character does indeed have a CAST on his arm during the first half of the musical. This was a fun and different way to clue the word CAST. I enjoyed the musical Dear Evan Hansen, and I miss musical theater immensely. Looking forward to the day when we can once again attend live theater performances. 
  • KICKAPOO (38D: Algonquin-speaking tribe) The KICKAPOO are an indigenous people who originally lived in the region south of the Great Lakes. There are currently KICKAPOO tribes in Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. I applaud Matthew's efforts to get this entry in the puzzle. It's a great entry, and increased awareness of the existence and history of indigenous peoples is a good thing.
  • ONO (40D: Hawaiian word for "good to eat") ONO is an alternate name for the wahoo, a fish found in tropical and subtropical seas. Note: If you solved today's puzzle on the USA Today app (as I did) you may have noticed some extra letters in this clue. The extra characters were not in the online version of the puzzle, so I think it's safe to assume they appeared in error. 
  • AFRO (55D: Hairstyle for Kirby Howell-Baptiste, sometimes) One of Kirby Howell-Baptiste's roles was Elena Felton, Eve's assistant, in the TV series, Killing Eve
  • IRL (63D: Like an offline meeting (Abbr.)) IRL = in real life

Geography review: 

  • STATE (10D: Hawaii or Missouri) Hawaii, whose capital is Honolulu, became a STATE in 1959. Missouri, whose capital is Jefferson City, became a STATE in 1821. Like Matthew, I also have ties to Missouri, having grown up there and still having family there. Fun to see this shoutout. 
  • INCA (33D: Machu Picchu builders) Machu Picchu is a 15th-century INCA citadel located in Peru.
  • SAO (44D: ___ Tome and Principe) SÃO Tomé and Príncipe is an island country in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western coast of Africa. Its capital is SÃO Tomé.
It's a new month, so let's HOP TO IT! A fun puzzle today, with solid theme answers. I also enjoyed the non-theme answers KICKAPOO, ANITDOTE, AMBIVERT, SEE TO IT, and KARMA. The answer BOOTLEGGED [Like pirated movies] was also fun. I read the clue as "Like pirate movies" at first, so that was a nice bit of misdirection I imposed on myself. I enjoyed reading Matthew's notes and learning the significance of some of the entries. I'm always thankful when constructors take the time to send me notes. It's fun to learn the back story of entries and clues. (Always optional and always appreciated!) It is ALL TOO TRUE that this puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Monday and my February.