Title: PASS IT ON
Constructor: Erik Agard
Editor: Erik Agard
IF YOU ARE FREE (17A: With 34- and 49-Across, Toni Morrison quote)
YOU NEED TO FREE (34A: See 17-Across)
SOMEBODY ELSE (49A: See 17-Across)
Theme synopsis: In an interview for the November 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Toni Morrison talked about mentorship, and encouraging her students to PASS IT ON: "IF YOU ARE FREE, YOU NEED TO FREE SOMEBODY ELSE."
Things I learned:
- NICOLE (21D: "Miss Juneteenth" star Beharie) In the movie, Miss Juneteenth, Nicole Beharie plays the role of Turquoise Jones, a single mother and former winner of the Miss Juneteenth pageant. Turquoise enters her 15-year-old daughter in the Miss Juneteenth pageant, though her daughter is not enthusiastic about participating.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- TAE (24A: Name that means "have a meal" when spelled backwards) and ENID (53D: Name that means "have a meal" when spelled backwards) A clever pair of clues.
- ELM (37A: Tree with a "slippery" variety) The slippery ELM is also known as red ELM because it has reddish wood. The tree's mucilaginous (viscous and sticky) inner bark earned it the name slippery ELM. The slippery inner bark of the ELM is edible, and has been used for medicinal purposes. Here's a couple of pieces of trivia for you: 1) Spitball pitchers used to chew slippery ELM tablets to increase the effectiveness of the saliva applied to baseballs, and 2) The yoke of the Liberty Bell is made from slippery ELM wood.
- ENE (3D: Third letter of 12-Across) EÑE is a letter in the Spanish alphabet formed by placing a tilde on top of the letter n. Although not all letters that use diacritic marks are considered a separate letter, EÑE (ñ) is a distinct letter, coming after n in the Spanish alphabet.
- ANNE (10D: "The Wall Between" author Braden) ANNE Braden was a civil rights activist, journalist, and educator. The Wall Between, published in 1958, is her account of the sedition case brought against ANNE, her husband Carl, and five other people for helping a black couple buy a house in Kentucky.
- THE READ (24D: Podcast hosted by Kid Fury and Crissie West) THE READ is a weekly podcast in which co-hosts, Kid Fury and Crissie West, discuss and analyze pop culture and current events. In the last section of the podcast each week, the hosts "read" a person or topic and give their brutally honest opinions.
- MEG (31D: Thee Stallion, to fans) Megan Thee Stallion, or MEG, is a rapper, singer, and songwriter.
- UTES (1A: Some Coloradans) UTES are members of the UTE Tribe, an indigenous people who have lived in present-day Utah and Colorado for many centuries. The state of Utah is named after the UTE tribe.
- TEL (2D: ___ Aviv) One of TEL Aviv, Israel's nicknames is "Nonstop City," a recognition of its nightlife and 24/7 culture
- SOVIET (4D: The first "S" in USSR) The USSR, or Union of SOVIET Socialist Republics, existed from 1922 to 1991. The word SOVIET is derived from the Russian word for "council" or "assembly." It sometimes amazes me to think about the fact that the USSR has not existed during any part of my children's lives.
- OAHU (7D: Third-largest Hawaiian island) About two-thirds of Hawaiians live on the island of OAHU.
- OHIO (50D: Lorain's state) Lorain, OHIO is approximately 30 miles west of Cleveland, and is the birthplace of Toni Morrison.
- YUMA (52D: County in the southwest corner of Arizona) The county seat of YUMA County is the city of YUMA.
Writer, professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison was born February 18, 1931 in Lorain, OHIO, making today her 90th birthday. (Morrison died in 2019 at the age of 88.) Today's puzzle is a lovely tribute to her. It's a quote puzzle! There are many people who do not like quote puzzles. (Actually, "do not like" is a bit of understatement of the feeling of some people towards quote puzzles.) The argument against them is usually along the lines that the quote cannot be filled in (unless you just happen to know it) without the aid of crossing answers. IMO (in my opinion), quotes are a perfectly acceptable theme. I enjoy using crossing answers to deduce the quote, just as I do with any answer in a puzzle that I don't immediately know. From a technical aspect, it's not as easy as you might think to construct a quote puzzle, as the quote has to be able to be broken into symmetrical pieces that fit logically in the grid. Today's quote is a fantastic choice. It's inspirational and challenging. Here's more of the quote: "When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that IF YOU ARE FREE, YOU NEED TO FREE SOMEBODY ELSE. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game." In celebration of Toni Morrison's birthday, I challenge you to consider who you are empowering. Who are you working to free? This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Thursday. Happy 90th birthday, Toni Morrison!