March 1, 2021

Title: FIRST OF ALL: NO...

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
NEW ORLEANS (3D: The French Quarter's city)
NIGHT OWLS (9D: Late sleepers)
NERD OUT (25D: Let your geek flag fly)
NAOMI OSAKA (31D: 2020 US Open champion)
NUMBER ONE (33D: Top of a top 10 list)

Theme synopsis: The FIRST letters of the words in each theme answer are NO.

Things I learned:
  • SAM (6A: "Totally Spies!" spy) Totally Spies! is an animated TV series centered around three teenage girls - SAM, Alex, and Clover - who work as undercover spies. The girls live in Beverly Hills, and work for the World Organization of Human Protection (WOOHP). The series was produced from 2001 to 2013.
  • GAME GENIE (18A: Nintendo player's cheating aid) GAME GENIE is a line of cartridges that, when used in conjunction with some Nintendo games, modify game play and allow the player to cheat. Codes may give the player invulnerability, endless ammunition, or allow the player to skip levels. As you might imagine, Nintendo is not a fan of GAME GENIE. Nintendo sued the makers of GAME GENIE, claiming a violation of copyright law, but lost the suit. I am not an avid gamer, and it's interesting to me that one would buy a game, and then buy something that lets you cheat the game. 
  • SKA (38A: Music genre for Millie Small) Millie Small, sometimes credited simply as "Millie," was born in Jamaica, and became the Caribbean's first international recording star. Her 1964 song, "My Boy Lollipop," was a hit in the United Kingdom and the United States, and became one of the top-selling SKA songs of all time. 
  • LAKER (66A: NBA player with a purple-and-gold jersey) This clue made me laugh, because knowing little about sports, I knew there was no way I would get the answer without help from crossing answers. Almost everything I know about sports I learned from crossword puzzles, and today I learned that the Los Angeles LAKERs wear purple and gold jerseys. 
  • SKY (68A: No Man's ___ (video game)) The video game No Man's SKY was produced by Hello Games, and launched in 2016. A player of No Man's Sky engages in exploration, survival, combat, and trading as they play the role of a planetary explorer. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • AVERY (14A: James who played Uncle Phil) James AVERY played the role of Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • IMAGINARY (15A: Like some friends or numbers) This was a fun clue.
  • MARTHA (23A: Reeves who led the Vandellas) MARTHA Reeves was the lead singer of MARTHA and the Vandellas, an R & B and pop group whose 1964 hit, "Dancing in the Street," is now my earworm for today. 
  • THE (28A: With 55-Down, best ever) and GOAT (55D: See 28-Across) THE GOAT is an acronym, most often used in connection with sports, that stands for THE Greatest Of All Time. As you might imagine, sports fans enjoy debating who deserves the title of THE GOAT.
  • UMA (48A: "The War With Grandpa" star Thurman) The War with Grandpa is a 2020 movie about a young boy trying to get his grandfather to move out of his room. The grandpa is played by Robert DeNiro, and his daughter is played by UMA Thurman. 
  • RIH (57A: Fenty Beauty owner's nickname) I knew from previous puzzles (July 23, 2020 and November 22, 2020) that Fenty Beauty is a cosmetics brand launched by singer Rihanna. In both of the previous puzzles, clues about Fenty Beauty were used for the answer RIRI, another of the singer's nicknames. 
  • VENUS (58A: Tennis great Williams) and NAOMI OSAKA (31D: 2020 US Open champion) I enjoyed the visual effect of these two tennis champions intersecting.
  • LONDON EYE (59A: British Ferris wheel) The LONDON EYE, also called the Millennium Wheel, celebrated its 20th birthday in March 2020. Originally intended as a temporary construction, the ferris wheel's popularity led to it becoming permanent. 
  • AVA (2D: "Queen Sugar" creator DuVernay) Queen Sugar is a TV series based on a 2014 novel of the same name by Natalie Baszile. The series tells the story of three siblings in rural Louisiana who are dealing with their father's death, and deciding the fate of his sugarcane farm. 
  • AM A (7D: I ___ Scientist (STEM diversity initiative) I AM A Scientist is an initiative  of The Plenary, an arts and education nonprofit. The program provides opportunities for students to interact with stories of today's scientists.
  • PLURAL (49D: Like "cats," but not "cat") This clue brought back a fun memory. When my son was about 5 years old, and learning to read, we were riding the bus together and saw a poster advertising the musical CATS. My son said to me, "Mommy, if that word didn't have an S on the end of it, it would spell cat!" I love the way young minds work and learn.
  • ANGLE (53D: Feature of L or <) This was a clue that when I skipped over when I first read it, thinking, "I have no idea." When I figured out the answer I thought, "Oh, that's clever."
Geography review:
  • NEPAL (9A: Country with a five-sided flag) NEPAL is the only country in the world with a non-quadrilateral flag. The flag is a double pennant, resembling two stacked triangles. 
  • NEW ORLEANS (3D: The French Quarter's city)  The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. It is the section of the city around which development occurred when the city was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. 
A fun puzzle today with a solid set of theme answers. NUMBER ONE is the obvious favorite, but I liked them all. The layout of the grid resulted in long across answers in the upper right and lower left corners, and they were all enjoyable: IMAGINARY, GAME GENIE, LONDON EYE, PATENT WAR. A number of sports and gaming clues today, neither of which are my strong suit. However, I enjoy learning new things, and crossing answers helped me figure out the entries I didn't know. Solving this puzzle was a delightful way to start my Monday morning.
Many thanks to Matthew and Brooke for helping out over the past few weeks, and most recently for guest blogging this weekend. My husband and I have just returned from driving to Seattle, Washington to visit our son. It had been far too long since we'd seen him - darn pandemic! While I enjoy being able to maintain the blog while traveling (although posting by 9:00 a.m. Central Time while in the Pacific Time Zone is a challenge!), I greatly appreciated having a few days off during this time. It was a good trip, and, as always, it's nice to be home.


  1. NERD OUT is also part of the theme

    1. Oh, right! Good catch - thanks! I plead road weariness. ;-)


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