September 10, 2021


Constructor: Wendy L. Brandes

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
DATE OF BIRTH (17A: Info that determines your horoscope)
NEVER NEVER LAND (26A: "Peter Pan" place that's "not on any chart, you must find it with your heart.")
TRIVIA QUESTION (42A: Something asked at a pub quiz night)
CABINET POST (56A: Secretary of State, e.g.)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer can be placed to the LEFT OF THE word MARK to form a new word or phrase. We have BIRTHMARK, LANDMARK, QUESTION MARK, and POSTMARK.

And now a word from our constructor:
Wendy: I loved playing around with the themers in this puzzle. 42-Across was my favorite, since I have had so much fun attending pub quiz nights. All credit to Amanda for coming up with a fun way to clue 17-Across.
I was so happy to include 6-Down in the puzzle. She is a total hero. I just saw her statue on the ground of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center and was really moved.
We had a lot of trouble with the title of this one, trying to figure out if Off the Mark, Left a Mark, Missing the Mark or Marked Off would work. I love what we finally settled on!
Hope you all enjoy the puzzle. Many thanks to Amanda and Erik for all of the editing and support :)

Things I learned:
  • TWO (11A: Number of Pulitzer Prizes won by Colson Whitehead) The TWO novels by Colson Whitehead that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction are The Underground Railroad (2017) and The Nickel Boys (2020). The Underground Railroad has been adapted for TV, and was released on Amazon Prime Video earlier this year. Colson Whitehead is only the fourth novelist to win TWO Pulitzer Prizes for fiction. He joins the company of Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner, and John Updike.
  • RIO (55A: Where Claressa Shields most recently won Olympic gold) Claressa Shields is a professional boxer, and has held multiple world championships in three different weight classes. She won gold medals for Team USA at the 2012 Olympics in London and 2016 Olympics in RIO. 2012 was the first year women's boxing was an Olympic Event, and Claressa Shields's win in London made her the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing.
  • OPEN (13D: "___ Water" (Caleb Azumah Nelson book)) OPEN Water, published earlier this year, is the debut novel of British-Ghanian writer and photographer Caleb Azumah Nelson. OPEN Water has been described as "an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body; to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength; to find safety in love, only to lose it." If you'd like to know more, I found this interview with Caleb Azumah Nelson worthwhile reading. 
  • ELIHU (38D: Nobel Peace Prize winner Root) ELIHU Root served as Secretary of State (That's a CABINET POST!) from 1905-1909 under President Theodore Roosevelt. He also served as the Secretary of War from 1899-1904 under Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt, and as a Senator for New York from 1909-1915. ELIHU Root was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912 for his work to promote arbitration and cooperation among countries.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GOTTA (6A: "She's ___ Have It") She's GOTTA Have It is a TV series created by Spike Lee and based on his 1986 movie of the same name. The TV series and movie both center on a young woman who is dating three men. The role of Nola Darling is played by DeWanda Wise in the TV series, and Tracy Camilla Johns in the movie.
  • ARE (19A: Nirvana's "Come As You ___") "Come As You ARE" is a single from Nirvana's 1992 album, Nevermind. The song was written by Kurt Cobain, whose hometown of Aberdeen, Washington put up a sign in 2005 that says, "Welcome to Aberdeen: Come As You ARE."
  • NEVER NEVER LAND (26A: "Peter Pan" place that's "not on any chart, you must find it with your heart.") These lyrics are from the song "NEVER NEVER LAND" from the musical Peter Pan. The musical is based, of course, on J.M. Barrie's 1904 play Peter Pan. 
  • NILS (46A: Guitarist Lofgren of the E Street Band) I had to dig deep in the recesses of my brain to come up with the name of NILS Lofgren, but I got there. The E Street Band has been the primary band for Bruce Springsteen since 1972. NILS Lofgren and the E Street Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the one in OHIO!) in 2014.
  • TEAS (2D: Pu'er and oolong) Pu'er and oolong TEAS are made from the same plant, but by different processes. Pu'er is a type of fermented TEA traditionally produced in Yunnan Province, China. Oolong is a semi-oxidized TEA. 
  • ATE (4D: Enjoyed some vindaloo) Vindaloo is a curry dish that originated from the Indian state of Goa. 
  • GIBSON (6D: Tennis champion Althea) Althea GIBSON was the first Black person to win a Grand Slam title. Her previous puzzle appearance highlighted a quote she made when retiring from tennis, "You can't eat a crown." The statue Wendy referred to in her notes was unveiled in 2019 at the opening day of the U.S. Open, and features a quote from Althea GIBSON, "I hope that I have accomplished just one thing: that I have been a credit to tennis and my country." 
  • WILDCAT (40D: Lynx or ocelot, e.g.) Willow is definitely not a WILDCAT,
    but she gave her approval of her relatives being included in today's puzzle. 
  • SLOE (45D: ___ glin fizz) SLOE gin is a red liqueur made with SLOEs, a fruit that is a relative of plums. To make a SLOE gin fizz, the liqueur is mixed with grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and carbonated water. 

    Geography review:
    • OHIO (24A: State that's home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, OHIO. It's located on the shore of Lake Erie, as a matter of fact.
    • ASIA (53D: Nepal's continent) Nepal is a landlocked country in South ASIA. Its neighbors are Tibet and India. The capital of Nepal is Kathmandu. ASIA is appearing in the puzzle for the second day in a row
    I do enjoy a puzzle that makes its MARK! A fun set of theme answers today. I greatly enjoyed the cluing in today's puzzle; it was lively and informative. The clue for EBAY (50D: Site where you can bid on vintage Pokemon cards) is an excellent example. There are many straightforward ways to clue EBAY (and that's not bad), but today we're treated to an extra tidbit of interesting information. I also noticed this puzzle featured Olympic medalists, Nobel prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Hall of Famers. THAT'S A NO NO! is a great answer, and EVENING OUT brought back memories and hopes for the future. This puzzle was a DREAM to solve, and a delightful way to begin my Friday.
    Today is the 10th of the month, the day I have selected as my "talk about money day." Asking for donations is definitely not in my comfort zone, but I want this blog to be a sustainable venture, so I'm making myself do it! As I was considering reasons I could give you for contributing to the blog, I decided to ask those who have donated in the past why they have done so. (Ah, fishing for compliments...also not in my comfort zone!) Below you'll find some of the responses I've received. 
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