Title: TOP AWARDS
Constructor: Brooke Husic
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
EMMY NOETHER (4D: German mathematician with an eponymous theorem)
OSCAR MICHEAUX (7D: "The Homesteader" filmmaker)
TONY BIRCH (10D: "The White Girl" author)
Theme synopsis: The TOP word of each vertical theme answer is an AWARD. Our puzzle has won EMMY, OSCAR, and TONY AWARDS.
And now a word from our constructor:
Brooke: although other asymmetric puzzles have run before this one, this was one of the first asymmetric grids i made. i really like being able to put in long "bonus" answers like TWITTER BOT and MALCOLM X without having to worry about finding clean fill for what would be the symmetric partners of those grid sections. i read it awhile ago, but "When the Emperor was Divine" really stuck with me and i'm glad to have the chance to include it. many thanks to amanda for editing!
Things I learned:
- EMMY NOETHER (4D: German mathematician with an eponymous theorem) EMMY NOETHER made many important contributions to the field of abstract algebra. NOETHER's theorem, which she wrote about in 1918, is fundamental to the area of mathematical physics. If you're interested in learning more about EMMY NOETHER, who had an interesting life and career, I recommend this Famous Scientists article. If you want to learn more about NOETHER's theorem, here's an article explaining it in more detail.
- TONY BIRCH (10D: "The White Girl" author) Australian author TONY BIRCH published The White Girl in 2019. The book is about the legacy of Australian colonialism, Indigenous resistance, and courageous, strong women.
- NORMA (33D: Journalist Quarles) In 1965, NORMA Quarles began her journalism career as a radio reporter in Chicago. After a 36-year career during which she worked for NBC, CNN, and PBS, NORMA Quarles retired in 2001. In 1990 she was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
- WAS (37D: "When the Emperor ___ Divine" (Otsuka novel)) Julie Otsuka's 2002 historical novel, When the Emperor WAS Divine is loosely based on the experiences of the author's mother's family. The story tells of a Japanese American family during World War II that was sent to an internment camp in Utah.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
- LASER (15A: ___ pointer (toy for a 25-Down) and CAT (25D: Scratching post user) A LASER
pointer and a CAT are a classic combination, guaranteed to be entertaining. We once used a LASER
- MYOB (23A: "Nunya!!" letters) "Nunya" is short for "none oF your (business)" and might be used to tell someone to MYOB (mind your own business).
- PAGODA (27A: Sacred tower) A PAGODA is a tiered, multiple-eaved tower. Most PAGODAs are built as religious structures, often Buddhist or Taoist.
- MARTIANS (30A: Red Planet residents) Mars appears red because its surface is covered with a dust primarily made of iron. The dust has oxidized, giving it a rusty red color, and dust storms blow the oxidized dust into the atmosphere, resulting in a red sky. Have MARTIANS ever existed? Perhaps the current resident of Mars - NASA's rover, Perseverance - will find the answer.
- ESPY (48A: Best Female Athlete with a Disability, e.g.) Although it's not at the TOP of the puzzle, it's a bonus for this AWARDS-themed puzzle. An Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly AWARD, or ESPY, is an annual AWARD presented by ABC (previously by ESPN) to recognize sports-related achievements. In 2021, Rebecca Murray won the Best Female Athlete with a Disability ESPY. Rebecca Murray is a wheelchair basketball player.
- MALCOLM X (63A: One of the inspirations for Magneto and Erik Killmonger) Magneto is a Marvel Comics character associated with the X-Men. Erik Killmonger is a character in the 2018 movie, Black Panther.
- OSCAR MICHEAUX (7D: "The Homesteader" filmmaker) I learned about OSCAR MICHEAUX a little over a year ago, from a puzzle also constructed by Brooke Husic. He was a prominent producer of race films, a genre of movies featuring Black casts and produced for Black audiences. The Homesteader was one of over 44 films produced by OSCAR MICHEAUX in the 1910s to 1950s. The movie was based on a book of the same name written by OSCAR MICHEAUX about his experiences. The Homesteader is a lost film; no copy of it is known to exist.
- YELP (8D: "People Love Us on ___" (award from a review app)) Another AWARD bonus answer, and this one is at the TOP of the puzzle. YELP is a website and mobile app that allows customers to review businesses. A "People Love Us on YELP" AWARD is a recognition consisting of a sticker that may be placed in a business's window, and a letter of commendation. The AWARDS are sent out twice a year to businesses that qualify based on their history and rating on YELP.
- OREO (11D: Cookie with a gluten-free version as of 2021) Ah, crosswords favorite cookie, now available in a gluten-free variety. Crossword constructors are always looking for new cluing angles for OREO. I just read an article this morning about OREO cookies being used in rat traps in New York City. Perhaps we'll see this clueing angle for OREO someday.
- YOGINI (49D: Vinyasa practitioner) A YOGINI is a female practitioner of yoga. Vinyasa are forms of yoga used as exercise, characterized by smooth transitions between asanas.
- RASTA (56D: Follower of Jah) I have previously written about Rastafarianism.
- ERIE (35A: Great Lake near Toledo) Toledo is located in the northern part of Ohio, and on the western end of Lake ERIE. After seeing our crossword-friend ERIE a record seven times last month, this is only its third appearance in December.
This puzzle is only a Grammy AWARD short of having an EGOT. A fun collection of AWARDS here found in the names of notable people unrelated to those AWARDS. In addition to the answers highlighted above, I liked TWITTER BOT and FROYO. I also enjoyed the clue for HUMP (45A: Part of a camel costume). This puzzle was a great way to begin my Saturday.