February 23, 2022


Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
LONG STEMMED ROSE (16A: Part of a romantic bouquet)
LOTUS POSE (36A: Cross-legged asana)
LOSING ON PURPOSE (60A: Throwing a game)

Theme synopsis: The word LOOSE is CUT by each theme answer.

Things I learned:
  • PETER (53A: Reggae legend Tosh) PETER Tosh was a reggae musician. He had a successful solo career as well as being a part of the band, Bob Marley and the Wailers. PETER Tosh was born in Jamaica, and if you go to Jamaica now you can visit the PETER Tosh museum which opened in 2016. PETER Tosh was murdered in 1987 at the age of 42, the result of an attempted armed robbery by an acquaintance.
  • ACT (28D: Perform like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and HUNK (58D: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, for example) Yahya Abdul-Mateen II portrayed activist Bobby Seale in the Netflix movie, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and DC Comic supervillain, the Black Manta in the movie, Aquaman. He was also in the HBO TV series, Watchmen, playing the role of Cal Aber, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award. I am terrible at remembering actor's names, so I often recognize them once I look them up. I agree with the assessment that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is considered a HUNK, and the callback in that clue made me smile. Also, in learning about Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, I read that at one point early in his career, he was counseled to change his name. He refused. Good for him!
  • SERPENT (46D: Uktena, the Horned ___) Uktena, the Horned SERPENT is a dragon-like creature in Cherokee legends. 
  • NINO (55D: Sci-fi writer Cipri) NINO Cipri is a science fiction writer, editor, and educator. Their story collection, Homesick, is included in the top ten on the American Library Association's "Over the Rainbow Book List."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • PSA (1A: Ad about saving the Earth, for example) I invite you to take a minute and a half of your day to watch this PSA about saving the Earth.
  • ELMO (9A: Muppet annoyed by Rocco) This clue made me laugh! In case you're not up on Sesame Street dynamics, Rocco is Zoe's pet rock. In 2004, Sesame Street aired a clip (as part of Episode 4077, if you're into details) titled "ELMO feels he's treated unfairly by Rocco." The clip, which shows ELMO getting upset when Rocco gets a cookie ELMO wants, was shared on Twitter last month, and went viral. As NPR explains, many of us can relate right now to ELMO shouting, "Rocco's just a rock!" ELMO has his own Twitter presence, and had fun with the reappearance of the video clip.
  • BEEN (13A: "Have you ___ helped?") and CAN I (34A: "What ___ do for you?") The puzzle is being helpful with this pair of clues. I had a funny interaction with the clue for BEEN. My first thought when I read the clue was "Have you EVER helped?" Apparently my subconscious is feeling a bit resentful - ha!
  • ASHE (56A: Tennis Hall of Famer Arthur) Arthur ASHE was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. 
  • PEOPLES (1D: Indigenous ___ Day (second Monday of October) Last year was the first time that Indigenous PEOPLES Day was recognized by a U.S. President. Hopefully it won't be the last.
  • ANG (3D: "The Wedding Banquet" director Lee) The Wedding Banquet is a 1993 movie - directed by ANG Lee, as the clue informs us - about a Taiwanese immigrant in a gay relationship, whose parents hire a dating service to find him a wife.
  • TEETH (8D: What Invisalign aligns) Used in orthodontics, Invisalign is a brand of clear aligners that, over time, align TEETH.
  • LEOTARD (10D: Acrobat's garment) This answer made me smile. The word LEOTARD features in one of our family's stories. (It must be the week for me to share family stories, as I shared my Scrabble origin story on Sunday.) Our children are named Sean and Leah (that's important to this story), and are just over two years apart in age. Many years ago, when they were about five and three years old, we visited some friends whose daughter is a few years older than Sean. The kids were playing together, and at one point our friends' daughter found some LEOTARDs she had outgrown, and offered them to Sean and Leah to wear, as they were tumbling and dancing. Sean became very sad, and when we asked him what was wrong he said, "I want a Sean-tard!" I love insights such as this to the way children's minds work! This is a good story to be reminded of today, as it happens to be Sean's 28th birthday - time flies.
  • EAR (39D: Body part with three tiny bones) The three tiny bones located in the EAR are the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes).

    Geography review:

    • OREGON (37D: State with a beaver on its flag) Here's a fun fact: OREGON is the only U.S. state with a double-sided flag. OREGON's flag is navy blue. The front of the flag features part of the state seal, and the back of the flag has a picture of a gold beaver. OREGON is nicknamed "The Beaver State" in recognition of the importance of the fur trade on the state's economy at the time it became a state.
    After yesterday's fun grid art theme, today we have a classic, and equally as fun, theme. Once I read the title, my earworm for today's solve was the theme song from the movie Footloose ("Now I gotta CUT LOOSE, footloose / Kick off your Sunday shoes...") This puzzle has somewhat conflicting vibes, with the crossing answers of LONG STEMMED ROSE and MISS YOU. That PLEASES me. But the puzzle is also IRATE and FED UP, perhaps with the PEST in the lower corner. Have some pie ALA MODE, puzzle; that will cheer you right up. This puzzle was an enjoyable start to my Wednesday.