May 25, 2021


Constructor: Claire Rimkus

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MIDTERM EXAM (17A: Big test that's not a final)
MISSY ELLIOTT (28A: "Throw It Back" rapper)
MOUNT EVEREST (48A: Peak called Sagarmatha in Nepal)
MIDDLE EARTH (62A: "The Lord of the Rings" setting)

Theme synopsis: The FIRST letter of the beginning word in each phrase is M-, and the FIRST letter of the next word is E-, giving us ME FIRST.

Things I learned:
  • NHL (19A: T.J. Oshie's league) T.J. Oshie is a professional ice hockey player for NHL's Washington Capitals, and was a part of their Stanley Cup winning team in 2018. He previously played for the St. Louis Blues. 
  • ATE (66A: Had some shish barak, say) A dish found in Arabic cuisines, shish barak are meat-filled dumplings served in a yogurt-based sauce.
  • YANCE (30D: "Strong island" director Ford) Strong Island is a 2017 documentary about the 1992 murder of YANCE Ford's brother. The movie was awarded an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking in 2018, making YANCE Ford the first Black openly transgender person to win an Emmy.
  • STEWART (47D: Breanna ___, 2020 WNBA Finals MVP) Breanna STEWART is a professional basketball player for WNBA's Seattle Storm. In addition to being the 2020 WNBA Finals MVP, she was also the WNBA MVP in 2018. Due to an injury, STEWART did not play during the 2019 season. Since the WNBA does not have an inactive list, the Seattle Storm suspended her (without pay) to free up a roster spot. The WNBA hired STEWART as an ambassador for the 2019 season, a first for the league.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GUAPO (1A: Handsome) GUAPO is the Spanish word for handsome. 
  • FALLS (26A: What a Jenga tower does at the end of the game) I tried to make this answer more complex. Is it "collapse?" "topple?" Oh, the tower FALLS! It definitely does, often in a startling fashion.
  • MISSY ELLIOTT (28A: "Throw It Back" rapper) "Throw It Back" is a 2019 song from the MISSY ELLIOTT EP, Iconology
  • PURR (37A: Happy cat sound) PURR...Willow is quite happy about the
    cat-related clues we've seen in the puzzle recently.
  • ALIBI (54A: Excuse from the Latin for "elsewhere") That's a fun fact. An ALIBI is unique among evidence, as it is used to establish innocence, while other evidence is used to establish guilt.
  • WIZ (61A: "The ___" (musical set in Oz) The WIZ: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a musical retelling of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful World of Oz. The musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1975, was set in the context of contemporary Black culture. The WIZ was adapted into a 1978 movie of the same name starring Diana Ross as Dorothy.
  • PET NAME (4D: "Sweetie" or "babe") I explained to Willow that her name wasn't included because we are talking about a different kind of PET NAME. If you need inspiration coming up with a PET NAME for your significant other, Southern Living has some suggestions.
  • ROSS (18D: "The High Note" star Tracee Ellis ___) The High Note is a 2020 movie about an assistant to a famous singer who wants to become a music producer. Tracee Ellis ROSS plays the role of the famous singer, Grace Davis.
  • MARIO (53D: Chemistry Nobel Laureate Molina) MARIO Molina played a role in the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, and, with Paul J. Crutzen and F. Sherwood Rowland, received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work. MARIO Molina was the first Mexican-born scientist to receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Molina died last year at the age of 77. 
Geography review:
  • MOUNT EVEREST (48A: Peak called Sagarmatha in Nepal) At a peak elevation of 29,031.7 feet, MOUNT EVEREST is the highest mountain (above sea level) on Earth. It is a part of the Himalayan mountain range, and is located on the border of Nepal and China.
I amused myself this morning by imagining this puzzle saying, "ME FIRST, ME FIRST!" in the excited tones of a small child. A fun set of "M-E" theme answers here. I also liked the long bonuses of IMMUNIZES and WENT SOUTH. This puzzle was an enjoyable way to begin my Tuesday.