March 19, 2021


Constructor: Olivia Mitra Framke

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
SONY XPERIA (17A: Android smartphone line)
YOU'RE UP EARLY (29A: Comment to a night owl at the breakfast table)
MELINDA GATES (46A: "The Moment of Lift" author)
K-POP ALBUMS (63A: "Map of the Soul: 7" and "Blackpink in Your Area," e.g.)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains a HIDDEN GEM. Looking closely, we find ONYX, PEARL, AGATE, and OPAL.

Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • LATIN (1A: "Tabula rasa" language) "Tabula rasa" is a LATIN phrase that translates to "blank slate" or "clean slate." Romans in the middle ages used a tabula, or wax tablet, to inscribe notes. To clean the slate, the wax was heated and the tablet was smoothed to prepare it to be used again. In philosophy, tabula rasa is a theory that people are born with a "clean slate," and one's personality, social, and emotional behavior, and knowledge are completely a result of experience. In other words, proponents of the tabula rasa theory favor the "nurture" side of the "nature vs. nurture" debate.
  • YOU'RE UP EARLY (29A: Comment to a night owl at the breakfast table) I am a morning person married to a night owl. I have definitely said this phrase a time or two!
  • SEASONS (41A: "Private Practice" was on for six) This is a good way to clue the word SEASONS. The TV series Private Practice aired from 2007 to 2013. The show was a spin-off of Grey's Anatomy that followed Dr. Addison Montgomery (played by Kate Walsh) when she left Seattle Grace Hospital to join a private practice in Los Angeles. 
  • GANG (45A: Kool & the ___) The band Kool & the GANG formed in 1964 and released their self-titled debut album in 1970. Over the last 50-plus years, the band has had multiple members and played many kinds of music. In 1980, Kool & the GANG had their only number one hit on Billboard's Hot 100 with "Celebration."
  • MELINDA GATES (46A: "The Moment of Lift" author) The 2019 book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, by MELINDA GATES highlights the fact that many women do unpaid work which goes unacknowledged.
  • K-POP ALBUMS (63A: "Map of the Soul: 7" and "Blackpink in Your Area," e.g.) This was a fun entry, and my favorite theme answer. Map of the Soul: 7 is the seventh studio album of the South Korean boy band, BTS. Blackpink in Your Area is the debut studio album of the South Korean girl group, Blackpink. I learned about the K-POP groups BTS and Blackpink from previous puzzles.
  • ISN'T (67A: Stevie Wonder's "___ She Lovely") The lyrics of this 1976 song celebrate the birth of Stevie Wonder's daughter. In a previous puzzle, we saw the song "ISN'T She Lovely" used to clue the word "She." Now I want it to be used to clue the word "Lovely."
  • IVY (4D: Poison ___ (Uma Thurman role)) An enemy of Batman in the DC Comics Universe, Poison IVY has supernatural control over plant life, and the power to transfer poison through touch. Uma Thurman played Poison IVY in the 1997 movie, Batman & Robin
  • CAT PERSON (11D: Fan of felines) Hey, look it's me!
  • PAPA (57D: "___ Don't Preach" (Madonna hit)) Apparently this is the week for puzzle references to Madonna songs released during my college years! (See Tuesday's puzzle.) "PAPA Don't Preach" was released in 1986, when I was a senior in college. I am a preacher's kid - my father was a minister - so I've always found the title of this song particularly amusing. 
Geography review:
  • PERU (18D: Machu Picchu's country) Machu Picchu is a 15th-century citadel in PERU. It was constructed around 1450, most likely as an estate of Pachacuti, an Incan emperor.
  • ORLANDO (30D: City near Disney World) ORLANDO, Florida is one of the most-visited cities in the world. It has been home to Walt Disney World since the park opened in 1971.
I enjoyed this puzzle's theme, and especially liked that each theme answer contained a different HIDDEN GEM waiting to be discovered. As I mentioned above, K-POP ALBUMS is my favorite theme answer, though I liked them all. I also appreciated the visual of MOM and PAPA being placed together in the lower left corner of the puzzle. I liked the answer EAGLE-EYED, but it's hard to compete with CAT PERSON. That was definitely my favorite answer in the puzzle. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Friday.
A brief note about yesterday's write-up: I've edited it to add more information about the theme. I'm always grateful when readers let me know things they've noticed which I have missed!