March 1, 2022


Constructors: Mark Valdez & Brooke Husic

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
LIVE YOUR TRUTH (14A: "Don't hide from the world!")
LAUGH OUT LOUD (37A: Chuckle audibly)
LOVE THAT FOR YOU (63A: "I completely support that decision!")

Theme synopsis: The TIPS (starting words) of the theme answers combine to form a MOTIVATIONAL phrase: LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE.

And now a word from our constructors:
Mark: I just love collaborating with Brooke, and she always helps me find new ways into thinking about themes. We worked backwards from me wanting to use the answer to 63-Across and ended up referencing the three-worded phrase that lives on rustic wooden plaques in calligraphy across the country.
Brooke: It was an absolute joy to collaborate with Mark on this puzzle, which we designed around 63-Across. I *love* the theme we came up with to fit it in a puzzle, and I adore our grid! My favorite of Mark's clues are 34A, 53A, and 42D.🔥🔥🔥

Things I learned:
  • TERESA (54A: "Get Christie Love!" actress Graves) Get Christie Love! is a TV series that originally aired in 1974. TERESA Graves played the title role of undercover detective Christie Love. With this role, TERESA Graves became the second Black woman to have a leading role in an hour-long TV series. (Diahann Carroll was the first in the sitcom, Julia.) TERESA Graves was also a regular on the third season of the comedy sketch show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. In learning about TERESA Graves, I also learned about the 1969 sketch comedy show, Turn-On. TERESA Graves was part of the cast of this show, which is infamous for being canceled after one show. Some stations canceled it mid-show, refusing to air the rest of the show. 
  • ORB (68D: Spherical item in Mario Party) Mario Party is a video game featuring Mario franchise characters. ORBs are special items found in the games. Not having played Mario Party, I didn't immediately know the answer, but the "spherical" hint made it possible to figure it out. This reminded me of Boswords. Bear with me...I will explain! Boswords is the seasonal crossword tournament event organized by John Lieb and Andrew Kingsley. The 2022 Spring Themeless League officially begins next Monday. (It's not too late to register and I highly recommend it. You can pick your solving level: Smooth, Choppy, or Stormy.) One of the things I like about Boswords is the interviews with folks in the crossword world. The interviews are always fabulous! Last night was the practice session for the Spring League, and as part of the broadcast, they interviewed Brad Wilbur, the editor for Boswords. Brad talked about his goals in editing. One of the things he mentioned was providing solvers with ways to get to the answer even if they weren't familiar with the subject referenced. This clue is an excellent example of that. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • IT'S OK (1A: "Don't fret!") As the first answer in the puzzle, this made me chuckle (and  almost LAUGH OUT LOUD). It seemed as if the puzzle were giving me a MOTIVATIONAL TIP not to fret about solving the puzzle.
  • ARI (17A: "positions" singer Grande, to fans) "Positions" is the title track of Ariana - ARI to fans - Grande's sixth studio album, released in 2020. The music video for "Positions" depicts ARI as the President of the United States. 
  • KORRA (25A: "Avatar: The Legend of ___") Avatar: The Legend of KORRA is an animated TV series, and a comics series. It is a sequel to the TV series, Avatar, The Last Airbender. Both of these Nickelodeon TV shows are set in a fictional universe in which certain people can manipulate water, earth, fire, or air.
  • PREP (31A: Medications that prevents HIV) PREP is short for "pre-exposure prophylaxis," a term used to describe the use of antiviral medications in HIV prevention, specifically in persons not yet exposed to the virus.
  • GLEE (58A: TV series about a high school show choir) The name of the show choir at the fictional William McKinley High School was New Directions. It's this show choir that is featured in GLEE, the TV series that ran for six seasons.
  • RATS (59A: Many "Ratatouille" characters) When movies I've seen are mentioned in the puzzle, I'm always curious to see when they were released The movies are usually older than I remember them being. The animated movie, Ratatouille, featuring many RATS, was released in 2007. Patton Oswalt voiced the character of Remy, one of the movie's anthropomorphic RATS.
  • LOVE THAT FOR YOU (63A: "I completely support that decision!") I always appreciate when constructors take the time to send me notes about a puzzle. It's interesting to learn information about the ideas behind the puzzle and the constructing process. It was fun to learn that this theme answer was the seed entry for this puzzle. It's such a great phrase, and MOTIVATIONAL in its own way! I'm glad Mark and Brooke constructed this puzzle to feature it.
  • BRINE (70A: Pickleback ingredient) A pickleback is a shot of whiskey followed by a chaser of pickle BRINE. This Tasting Table article provides the history of the pickleback, which originated in 2006.
  • WNBA (75A: League for Breanna Stewart) Breanna Stewart is a professional basketball player with WNBA's Seattle Storm. In 2021, she was named to The W25 - WNBA's list of the top 25 players of the league's first 25 years. I learned about Breanna Stewart from the May 25, 2021 crossword.
  • DRAG (42D: "We're all born naked, and the rest is ___") As you might guess, "We're all born naked, and the rest is DRAG," is a RuPaul quote. 
  • FAN FIC (52D: Unofficial spinoff stories for short) If you're interested in FAN FIC, or if you've never read any and would like to, you can find plenty of it on the site Archive of our Own (AO3) which I learned about from the June 12, 2021 puzzle. 

    Geography review:

    • UTAH (44A: Four Corners state) Ah, a perfect set up for a Geography Review Quiz! What are the other three states that comprise the site known as Four Corners - the point where the boundaries of four states meet? The answer is at the end of this blog post.
    • ISLA (1D: Mykonos, por ejemplo) Mykonos is a Greek island. The Spanish phrase "por ejemplo" ("for example") in the clue tips us off that the answer is the Spanish word for "island" - ISLA.
    • IIT (8D: University system with campuses in Hyderabad and Delhi (Abbr.) IIT here stands for Indian Institutes of Technology. There are currently 23 IIT located across India, including in the cities of Hyderabad and Delhi.
    • USA (69D: Detroit's country) In addition to Detroit, Michigan, there are six other cities in the USA named Detroit. Cities named Detroit are also found in Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, and Texas. However, according to Wikipedia, Detroit, Michigan is the only USA Detroit with a population greater than 1,000.
    • OAHU (28D: Island home to Iolani Palace) The Iolani Palace was the residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1845-1893. It is located in Honolulu, on the island of OAHU.
    • UAE (Dubai's country) Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is located on the Arabian Peninsula, neighboring Oman and Saudi Arabia. The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.
    This is a fun puzzle; I even found it...MOTIVATIONAL. Did you know that the MOTIVATIONAL phrase, LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE has its own Wikipedia page? This phrase became popular in the late 2000s and early 2010s, and as Mark mentioned in his notes, can be found on many plaques, and also on mugs, t-shirts, and throw pillows. The phrase is an abridged form of a 1904 poem, "Success" by Bessie Stanley, that begins, "He achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much." As sometimes happens with things that become popular, the phrase LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE became so ubiquitous that its original MOTIVATIONAL impact is now viewed by some as a generic, shallow motto. Whether you're a fan of the saying or not, you can be a fan of this puzzle; there's so much to enjoy here! I really like the answer SQUAWK, and give it bonus points for crossing OWLS since it's clued as a [harsh bird sound]. I also liked the answer QUIRKS (12A: Personal idiosyncrasies); we all have them. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Tuesday.

    Answer to Geography Review Quiz: The states whose boundaries meet at Four Corners are: UTAH, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.


    1. I also meant to say that I enjoyed that each theme answer was also a MOTIVATIONAL phrase!

      1. Tough puzzle for me today, Sally. I've never encountered the phrases at 14A and 63A. That's on me, I guess. The abbreviation at 8D seems unfortunate and pretty obscure. I may be lacking patience due to the agonies going on in Ukraine. I'm also a bit disappointed in Erik's rather snide remark to a commenter at Crossword Fiend on Monday. JohnH was making some reasonable comments on the Monday New Yorker puzzle by Natan Last. You can read Erik's response ( I've voiced my admiration several times for the quality of the USA Today puzzles and Erik's editorship, in particular, against several posters at Crossword Fiend who love to harshly criticize the entire USA Today series. So, I felt the rug pulled out from under me a bit when I read Erik's remark. Sorry to go on. David

      2. i filled the northeast corner. there were many clean options, and i chose the one with the IIT (not obscure in my lived experience, and i struggle to imagine what the justification is for it being unfortunate) on purpose


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