August 28, 2021


Constructor: Erik Agard

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
DINNER MENU (4D: Restaurant's evening handout)
DESMOND TUTU (17D: Source of the quote "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor")
DO I KNOW YOU (29D: Question to a stranger acting overly familiar)

Theme synopsis: Each vertical theme answer begins with a D (for DOWN) and ends with a U (for UP). Therefore, the UPSIDE is DOWN.

Things I learned:
  • HANDS (1A: "Loud ___: Autistic People, Speaking" (2012 book)) Loud HANDS: Autistic People, Speaking is a collection of essays discussing autism, neurodiversity, and many more aspects of the autistic community. The book is a project of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and the essays are written by and for autistic people. I highly recommend this interview with Julia Bascom, who edited the book, and The Loud HANDS Project video
  • MAE (6D: Activist Mallory) MAE Mallory was an advocate for school desegregation, Black liberation, and self-defense.
  • BEN (42D: "The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist" author Barres) BEN Barres was a neurologist at Stanford University, where he studied the interactions between neurons and glial cells. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2017 at the age of 63. I found these words he said shortly before his death to be quite inspiring, "I lived life on my terms: I wanted to switch genders, and I did. I wanted to be a scientist, and I was. I wanted to study glia, and I did that too. I stood up for what I believed in and I like to think I made an impact, or at least opened the door for the impact to occur. I have zero regrets and I'm ready to die. I've truly had a great life." (The quote was included in an obituary in Nature if you'd like to learn more about BEN.) BEN Barres completed The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist shortly before he died, and it was published posthumously in 2018.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • SCAR (27A: "The Lion King" character often considered a gay icon) SCAR, if you need a refresher on The Lion King storyline, is the power-hungry younger brother of Mufasa, and therefore Simba's uncle. Some people believe SCAR and other Disney villains are portrayed as gay characters. Here's another take that discusses why coding SCAR as gay may be problematic. Disney did not portray SCAR as gay in the 2019 movie - a move that disappointed some fans and was okay with others
  • FENDS (36A: ___ for oneself (gets by without any help)) I like this answer because it reminds me of a long-standing tradition in our family. For many years, I have declared Sunday evenings to be the one meal of the week I don't cook. (There are also other times I don't cook, but Sundays are consistent.) As a result, Sunday suppers at our house have always been "FEND for yourself." This has resulted in some creative "meals" at times.
  • NON (39A: The N in GNC) GNC here is Gender NONconforming.
  • KRAB (41A: The Krusty ___ ("SpongeBob SquarePants restaurant")) The signature dish of The Krusty KRAB is the KRABby Patty. 
  • USA USA (48A: "Go American team!") This clue made me laugh. Yay, sports!
  • NBA (3D: The Lakers play in it) Speaking of sports, this is the second time this week I've known an NBA team in the puzzle. The Los Angeles Lakers are an NBA team. The team was founded in 1947 as the Minneapolis Lakers, and moved to Los Angeles in 1960.
  • DESMOND TUTU (17D: Source of the quote "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor") Bishop DESMOND TUTU was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986, and the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996. He is a human rights activist, and was a vocal opponent of South African apartheid. This is a great quote, and a good reminder about the danger of not speaking up. I like the continuation of the quote as well: "If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."
  • EDNA (37D: Name hidden in "assumed name") I enjoy hidden word clues, and this is a fun find.
  • TORI (53D: Singer Kelly) I learned about TORI Kelly when she was a theme answer in the February 26, 2021 puzzle

    Geography review:
    • MIAMIAN (6A: Person from Florida's second-largest city) Miami, Florida is about half of the size of Florida's largest city, Jacksonville. Florida's capital, Tallahassee, is its ninth-largest city.
    • ALGERIA (14A: Assia Djebar's country) Assia Djebar was a writer and filmmaker who wrote about obstacles faced by Muslim women.
    • HONOLULU (56A: Capital of Hawaii) In addition to being the capital of Hawaii, HONOLULU is also its largest city.
    Today is one of those days where I think I've discovered the theme, but also wonder if I've missed something. So if you see an aspect of the theme I haven't mentioned, please don't hesitate to let me know. The theme answers were all fun. I enjoyed seeing DESMOND TUTU in the puzzle, and liked that the clue highlighted that particular quote. I especially like the relatable, DO I KNOW YOU? When I first opened this puzzle, I was struck by the shape of the grid. It's quite interesting, with the black squares being grouped together. There aren't any single black squares in the grid. It's interesting and I like it. This puzzle was a great way to begin my Saturday.