February 11, 2021


Constructor: Brooke Husic

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
STANDING ROCK (16A: Home to many Sihasapa)
RESEARCH PAPER (35A: Postdoc's output)
NAIL SCISSORS (52A: Manicurist's tool)

Theme synopsis: The last words of the theme answers are the components of the hand game, ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS. JANKEN is a Japanese version of the game which is a predecessor of the American version.

And now a word from our constructor: 
Brooke: I hope you like this puzzle as much as I liked making it! I'm really digging Amanda's improvement of my RESTS [Half ___ (musical symbols that look like top hats)] and PINATAS [They're broken during Las Posadas] clues. I'm glad she was down to keep the 18D/22D echo and my personal flourishes of (1) not cluing RAS as disciplinarians, (2) whining about PMS, and (3) giving real estate to "ONE, Two Step." See you next week!

Things I learned:
  • ANA (42D: Sculptor Mendieta) ANA Mendieta's works explored the relations between the female body and nature. She is known for her "earth-body" artwork in which her body, the earth, and materials such as blood, feathers, and wood served as artistic subjects. Born in Havana, Cuba, ANA was sent to the United States when she was 12 years old, after her father joined anti-Castro counterrevolutionary forces. ANA received her BA, MA, and MFA from the University of Iowa - shoutout to my alma mater!
  • BARNES (46D: "Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut" author Derrick) Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a picture book of a poem describing a young black boy's experience of getting a haircut. The book was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • BIEL (11A: Jessica of "7th Heaven") Jessica BIEL played the role of Mary Camden in the TV series 7th Heaven
  • ABBY (15A: Journalist Phillip) ABBY Phillip is a senior political correspondent for CNN. She is the host of the political talk show, Inside Politics, on Sundays. On January 14, 2020, ABBY Phillip co-moderated one of the debates of the Democratic Party presidential primaries. That particular debate was held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa - shoutout to the other of my alma maters!
  • YOU TOO (1D: Awkward response to "Happy Birthday!") This clue made me chuckle. I don't remember accidentally replying "YOU, TOO," in response to "Happy Birthday!" but I've accidentally made this automatic reply in response to other wishes ("Have a good trip." "YOU, TOO!") Awkward indeed. 
  • IBRAM X. KENDI (2D: Youngest winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction) IBRAM X. KENDI is the author of the book, How to Be an Antiracist, which was a New York Times #1 Best Seller in 2020. His 2016 book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
  • RESTS (10D: Half ___ (musical symbols that look like top hats)) Half RESTS do look like top hats, sitting on the lines of the musical staff. I still remember my piano teacher explaining the difference between half RESTS and whole RESTS by explaining that whole RESTS were longer because the person has taken their hat off and placed it upside down. (Whole RESTS hang down from the lines of the music staff.)
  • PINATAS (14D: They're broken during Las Posadas) Las Posadas is mainly celebrated in South America, Mexico, Guatemala, and Cuba. The celebration lasts for nine days, typically between the 16th to 24th of December. During Las Posadas, two people dressed as Mary and Joseph lead a procession to certain houses designated to represent inns. At the end of each night, children break open star-shaped PINATAS. 
  • EPCOT (27D: Spaceship Earth's place) EPCOT's Spaceship Earth is a geodesic sphere housing an amusement ride in which passengers journey back in time. Science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, helped design Spaceship Earth and helped write the attraction's original storyline.
  • EL CAP (44D: Yosemite monolith, for short) El Capitan, also known as EL CAP, is a vertical rock
    formation. It is about 3,000 feet from base to summit. The Ahwahneechee name for EL CAP is Tutokanula. There is a legend about its creation that says two bear cubs were sleeping on a flat rock by the river when the rock grew. The mother bear called on all of the animals to rescue her babies, but none succeeded until the inchworm crawled to the top and led the bear cubs to safety. My husband and I visited Yosemite in 2017, and I enjoyed the memories of that trip that this answer evoked (which included learning about this legend).
  • AKA (56D: Sorority founded in 1908, for short) Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) was the first Black Greek-lettered sorority. It was founded at Howard University.
Geography review:
  • STANDING ROCK (16A: Home to many Sihasapa) STANDING ROCK is in North Dakota and South Dakota. The Sih├ísapa are a division of the Lakota people.
  • INDIA (41A: Mumbai's country) Mumbai is the second-most populous city in INDIA. The most populous city in INDIA is its capital, Delhi.
ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS! A fun theme for a puzzle. I also enjoyed the long non-theme answers of IBRAM X. KENDI and SAW EYE TO EYE. For some reason I'm hungry for CAKE POPS now. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Thursday.


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