March 6, 2021


Constructor: Evan Kalish

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MARRIAGE LICENSE (3D: Document issued before a wedding)
ANYTHING ELSE (9D: "Will that be all?")
ANGELOU (10D: Maya honored on a 2015 U.S. postage stamp)
HEATING ELEMENTS (11D: Components of radiators and toasters)
COLLEGE LEVEL (21D: Like AP classes)
AGELESS (40D: Forever young, seemingly)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains the letter string G-E-L, which is the word LEG backwards. Since the theme answers are all Down entries, the word LEG is going UP.

And now a word from our constructor:
Evan: Just when you think four theme answers are enough, CrossFire tells you [10-Down] fits in the NE, right next to your grid-spanning theme entry … so six it is! How could I not take the opportunity to make the construction miserable for myself? Somehow this did not evolve into a total mess, which I know because the editor has high standards for fill. Whew.

Things I learned:

  • WONG (28D: "Disability Visibility" editor Alice) Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the 21st Century is a collection of personal essays by contemporary disabled writers. In addition to editing the book, Alice WONG is the founder of the Disability Visibility Project, an organization which coordinates with Storycorps to collect oral histories of people with disabilities. WONG also hosts a podcast titled Disability Visibility which features conversations with disabled people on a variety of topics including politics, culture, and media.
  • EVA (59D: Activist Ansley) EVA Ansley is the Operations Director for the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI, an organization she helped Bryan Stevenson found in 1989. EJI provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, and to poor people without adequate legal support. Brie Larson played the role of EVA Ansley in the movie, Just Mercy, based on the memoir of the same name by Bryan Stevenson. If you haven't yet seen Just Mercy, I highly recommend it. It's difficult to watch, honestly, as it's gut-wrenching at times, but so important.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • HOLI (26A: End-of-March observance in 2021) HOLI, also known as the "festival of spring," is a Hindu festival celebrating the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The date of HOLI varies with the lunar calendar; this year HOLI will be celebrated on March 29.
  • WINONA (28A: Actress Ryder) WINONA Ryder has many film and TV credits, including the role of Joyce Byers in the TV series, Stranger Things
  • BIG BEN (44A: London attraction with two hands) Technically, BIG BEN is the nickname of one of the five bells in London's famous clock tower. The bell is massive, and weighs more than 13 tons. The name BIG BEN is also frequently used to refer to the clock itself, and sometimes the clock tower. There's a word for referring to a thing or concept by the name of something closely associated with it - metonymy. Another example of metonymy is referring to a business executive as a "suit."
  • ANGELOU (10D: Maya honored on a 2015 U.S. postage stamp) The 2015 stamp featured a picture of Maya ANGELOU, and the quote, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." While aptly fitting ANGELOU's memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the quote was not Maya ANGELOU's, but a line from Joan Walsh Anglund's 1967 book, A Cup of Sun
  • LAP (25D: Place for a calm kitty) Immediately after filling in this answer, I took this photo of my cat, Willow. She likes to sit on my LAP and help me solve the puzzle ever morning.
  • RAT (42D: "I Knew I Smelled a ___" (song from "Ratatouille the Musical")) Ratatouille the Musical, also known as Ratatouille: The Tik Tok Musical, is a crowdsourced musical based on the 2007 movie Ratatouille. The project began when Emily Jacobsen created a comedic song about the main character of Ratatouille, and posted it on Tik Tok. In January of this year, a charity benefit featuring the musical was held (virtually, of course).
Geography review:
  • NESS (15A: Loch with a rumored monster) Loch NESS is a large freshwater lake in the Scottish highlands. It is located southwest of Inverness.
  • COD (21A: Cape ___, Mass.) Cape COD extends into the Atlantic Ocean from the southeast corner of Massachusetts.
  • ASIA (12D: Bhutan's continent) Bhutan is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas in ASIA. This is the third appearance of our crossword friend, ASIA, this month, and it's only the sixth of the month. Will this be it, or are we in for a month with a record-breaking number of ASIA appearances? 
What a theme-packed puzzle - six theme answers, with two of them spanning the grid! ANYTHING ELSE was my favorite theme answer, and I always enjoy seeing Maya ANGELOU in the puzzle. I appreciated learning about Alice WONG today, and being reminded of the important work of EVA Ansley.  PLAY ON and GENIUS were fun non-theme answers. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Saturday.