Title: ARE YOU MY MOTHER?
Constructors: Rebecca Goldstein & Brooke Husic
Editor: Erik Agard
SUPERIOR QUALITY (17A: Extremely high-grade)
TONGUE PIERCINGS (39A: Some studs)
GOOSE DOWN JACKET (61A: Warm layer for cold weather)
Theme synopsis: The word MOTHER can be placed before the first word of each theme answer to produce a common phrase: MOTHER SUPERIOR, MOTHER TONGUE, and MOTHER GOOSE.
And now a word from our constructors:
Brooke: I can't believe this is Rebecca and my collab debut! I talk to Rebecca about puzzles all the time and super admire both her dazzling gridwork and hilarious cluing voice. So, unsurprisingly, I love this grid and our clues! My favorite parts of the grid are KPOP and MWAH and STYX/SEX and my favorite clues are about Carmen SOO, 2x HSM-adjacent (SOUR and GOTTA), our new take on ERIC, Fallopian TUBES, and JET. You'll definitely see more from us soon!
Rebecca: Brooke and I have been talking about puzzles so often and for so long, it’s hard to believe this is our first collab! I’m a huge fan of Brooke’s oeuvre - unparalleled themelesses, super clean USAT puzzles, (trigger warning) Lollapuzzoola Puzzle 4 - need I say more?! Naturally, making this puzzle was a lot of fun. Although our inspiration was a 15-letter theme entry that was left on the editing room floor, I love the three spanner theme entries we kept and their clues, as well as some fun fill like SWIPED/SQUID and AND I QUOTE. I hope you enjoy this puzzle - you haven’t seen the last of us!
Things I learned:
- YODEL (43A: Sing like Mason Ramsey) In 2018, when Mason Ramsey was 11 years old, he was shopping in Walmart with his grandparents. He stopped to YODEL "Lovesick Blues," a song made famous by Hank Williams. The performance was recorded and posted on YouTube, where it has been viewed over 2.7 million times. For Mason Ramsey, the viral video led to internet fame, TV appearances, an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, and a record deal with Atlantic Records and Big Loud. His first EP, "Famous," was released in April 2018, just one month after the YODELing YouTube video was posted.
- CREE (44A: Eeyou Istchee people) Eeyou Istchee is a territory in Canada that is located in Quebec, east of James Bay (which is located at the southern end of Hudson Bay). There are nine CREE communities in Eeyou Istchee.
- ERIN (46A: Athlete Phillips) During the nine years ERIN Phillips played in the WNBA, she won two championships: in 2012 with the Indiana Fever, and in 2014 with the Phoenix Mercury. She currently plays Australian Rules Football for the Adelaide Football Club.
- SOUR (2D: "___ Prom" (Olivia Rodrigo concert film)) SOUR is the title of Olivia Rodrigo's debut album, released in May of this year. On June 29, the singer streamed a live concert event titled SOUR Prom on her YouTube channel. Olivia Rodrigo graduated from high this year. She is known for starring in the Disney TV series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. (Note: HSM in Brooke's note = High School Musical.) Olivia Rodrigo's debut single, "Drivers License," was released in January.
- TERI (59D: "True to the Game" author Woods) True to the Game is the 1998 book by TERI Woods about the world of drugs and money. The novel was adapted into a movie of the same name in 2017.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- CLARK (23A: Civil rights icon Septima) Septima CLARK was an educator and civil rights activist. I have previously written about Septima CLARK, and her autobiography, Echo in My Soul.
- FLOP (37A: Film declared "Rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes, perhaps) Rotten Tomatoes is a review aggregation website. The site ranks movies based on the percentage of positive and negative reviews received.
- SOO (45A: "Crazy Rich [47-Across]" actress Carmen) and ASIANS (47A: See 45-Across) Carmen SOO played the role of Francesca Shaw, (Nick's ex-girlfriend) in the 2018 movie Crazy Rich ASIANS.
- EDU (54A: www.navajotech.___) Navajo Technical University is located in Crownpoint, New Mexico, and is the largest tribal college in the United States. The school's mission is to "honor Diné culture and language, while educating for the future."
- GOTTA (66A: "___ Go My Own Way" (Efron/Hudgens duet)) "GOTTA Go My Own Way," sung by Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, is a song from the 2007 Disney movie, High School Musical 2.
- SIR (71A: What Marcie calls Peppermint Patty) As I have previously written, the reason for Marcie referring to Peppermint Patty as SIR is never revealed.
- K-POP (26D: Blackpink genre) Blackpink is a South Korean girl group that I learned about from the November 9, 2020 puzzle. This is the second day in a row we've had a bit of K-POP in our puzzle.
- POOR (35D: "___ Unfortunate Souls" (solo for Ursula)) As soon as I filled in this answer, "POOR Unfortunate Souls" became my earworm for the day. Ursula here is the sea witch in The Little Mermaid, voiced by Pat Carroll.
- ERIE (20A: Alphabetically first Great Lake) Well, hello to our crossword-friend ERIE, first alphabetically ahead of Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior, and also first among the Great Lakes in number of crossword appearances.
- STL (62D: City known for gooey butter cake (Abbr.)) Originating in the 1930s, gooey butter cake can still be found in many St. Louis, Missouri (STL) bakeries.
First of all, I adore the title of this puzzle, a reference to the 1960 children's book by P.D. Eastman about a little bird searching for its mother. This summer, my husband and I were