February 23, 2021

Title: 1 2, 3 4S

Constructor: Kate Hawkins

Editors: Erik Agard & Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
TO TELL THE TRUTH (20A: "If I'm being honest...")
FORREST GUMP (25A: Tom Hanks title role)
FORERUNNERS (43A: Predecessors)
FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE (47A: "Oh, give me a break!")

Theme synopsis: The first theme answer begins with the letters TO-. The rest of the theme answers begin with the letters FOR-. We have one TO- (1 2), and three FOR-s (3 4s).

Things I learned:
  • CHESS (45D Nona Gaprindashvili's game) In 1978, Nona Gaprindashvili became the first woman to be awarded the title of CHESS Grandmaster. She was the women's world CHESS champion from 1962-1978. Nona Gaprindashvili is featured in the Glory to the Queen, a recently released documentary about four women from Georgia (the country) who once dominated women's CHESS. Nona Gaprindashvili is still playing CHESS competitively. She will be 80 years old in May. Nona even has a perfume named after her; the bottle is shaped like a CHESS queen
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GOBI (6A: Aloo ___ (potato and cauliflower dish) Aloo GOBI is a dish in Indian and Pakistani cuisines. The use of turmeric makes the dish yellow in color.
  • PUG (40A: Flat-faced dog breed) The PUG has a distinctive face, with a short snout that appears to have been pushed in. Because of their short nose, some PUGs are noisy breathers, and may sound like they are snoring, even when awake. When I was growing up, our family's dog was part PUG and part Boston Terrier. His name was Boston, and he had the face shape of a PUG (complete with noisy breathing!) and the coloring of a Boston Terrier. 
  • OBOE (54A: Instrument that represents the duck in "Peter and the Wolf") Peter and the Wolf, composed by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936, is a symphonic fairy tale. The narrator tells a story while the orchestra illustrates it. Each character in the story is represented by a specific instrument or group of instruments. Peter is represented by a string quartet, the grandfather by a bassoon, and the wolf by three horns. As this clue/answer tell us, the OBOE represents the duck that lives in Peter and his grandfather's garden. 
  • LILO (59A: Stitch's movie pal) LILO & Stitch is a 2002 animated movie. LILO is a six-year-old girl who lives in Hawaii. Stitch is an illegally-made extraterrestrial animal-like creature that is called Experiment 626 until it is adopted by LILO and renamed. There has been a sequel to the original movie, and several TV series based on the characters.
  • OREO (3D: Cookie with a 2020 rainbow edition)  To celebrate LGBTQ+ history month, in October 2020 OREO partnered with PFLAG to release rainbow cookies. The cookies couldn't be purchased. In order to win a pack of rainbow OREOs, you needed to share a photo on Twitter or Instagram and say what allyship meant to you. I wrote about the OREO and PFLAG collaboration when OREO appeared in the January 4, 2021 puzzle
  • ALTER EGO (5D: Ms. Marvel, for Kamala Khan) This is a fun clue. In Marvel Comics, Kamala Khan is a Pakistani American teenager from New Jersey who has shapeshifting abilities and becomes Ms. Marvel.  She made her first appearance in Captain Marvel #14 in August 2013. She then featured in her own series, Ms. Marvel, beginning in February of the following year, becoming Marvel's first Muslim character to have their own series. The first volume of Ms. Marvel won a 2015 Hugo Award for best graphic story. 
  • ACLU (11D: Reproductive Freedom Project org.) The Reproductive Freedom Project is an institution within the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which upholds the rights of persons in cases relating to birth control, sexual education, and abortion. The project also works to promote sexual and reproductive health, and provide education on these topic. 
  • WHAT (12D: First word of many "Jeopardy" responses) I enjoyed this clever clue.
  • RUMI (28D: Thirteenth-century Persian poet) The poems of RUMI have been widely translated, and remain popular, even more than 700 years after his death.
  • SIGN (35D: Use BASL) Black American Sign Language, or BASL, is a dialect of American Sign Language (ASL). 
Geography review:
  • OMAN (15A: Neighbor of Yemen) OMAN is also a neighbor of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, OMAN shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. The capital of OMAN is Muscat.
  • AUS (37A: Vienna's country (Abbr.) Vienna is the capital of AUStria, and its largest city.
  • COTE (45A: ___ d'Ivoire) CÔTE d'Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast, is located on the southern coast of West Africa. It has two capitals. Yamoussoukro is its political capital, while Abidjan is it economic capital.
  • ASTRO (60A: Houston baseball player) The Houston ASTROs were first named the Houston Colt .45s when the team entered the National League in 1962. When they moved to the Astrodome in 1965, the team changed its name. Since 2000, the ASTRO's home games are played in Minute Maid Park.
  • ARI (1D: Phoenix's state, on scoreboards) Phoenix, ARIzona is the home of WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, and NBA's Phoenix Suns. ARI on a scoreboard could also represent MLB's ARIzona Diamondbacks, or NFL's ARIzona Cardinals.
Here is a transcript of my inner dialogue while solving today's puzzle: Why is there only one TO, and three FORs...Ooooooh! I get it!" I thoroughly enjoyed this clever theme with its rewarding "Aha!" moment, and its solid set of theme answers. (Side note: Kate Hawkins also constructed today's New York Times puzzle which I am looking forward to solving.) I enjoyed learning about Nona Gaprindashvili today. I also liked the grid shape of this puzzle. It's visually appealing with those "slides" of black squares going through the center of the puzzle. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Tuesday. (Today is the 27th anniversary of the day I became a mom: Happy birthday to my son, Sean!)