April 11, 2022

Title: INNER P'S

Constructors: Priyanka Sethy & Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Guest blogger: Sid Sivakumar

Theme Answers:

TOP PRIORITY (19A: Number-one thing to do)

STRIP POKER (9D: Party game that involves disrobing)

GALLUP POLL (28D: Public opinion survey since 1935)

LIP PIERCING (56A: Vertical labret, for example) 

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer contains an abutting pair of letter P's. The P's elegantly split across two words in each case.

Things I learned:

  • ANNE (70A: Civil rights activist Moody) ANNE Moody was a civil rights activist who recounted her experiences in her 1968 autobiography "Coming of Age in Mississippi." She worked with CORE and the NAACP in Mississippi and took part in several anti-racism protests in the 1960s.
  • YOU (21D: "___ Exist Too Much" (Zaina Arafat novel)) "You Exist Too Much" is the debut novel from Palestinian-American author Zaina Arafat. The book's protagonist is an unnamed Palestinian-American woman on "a misguided and self-destructive quest for love." The novel won the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction.
  • OTIS (48D: "Sex Education" character Milburn) "Sex Education" is a British dramedy TV series available on Netflix. The series chronicles the lives of secondary school students, staff, and parents, as they face challenges involving sexual intimacy. The show features an ensemble cast including Asa Butterfield, who plays the main character, OTIS Milburn. 

Random thoughts and interesting things:

  • MESS (1A: Something a toddler might make at mealtime) My brain: "Hmm... what a toddler might make at mealtime... would a toddler make the TABLE? I could, with limited proficiency, carry my own bowl and spoon at age three, so it's possible — but TABLE is the wrong number of letters... I guess there are toddlers out there who can be trusted to make FOOD? Froot Loops and milk are a thing I've seen toddlers put together, albeit fairly messily... Oh! It's a MESS!!" A great way to start the puzzle.
  • KIA (40A: Korean automaker) I recently learned that KIA, the second-largest Korean automaker, is owned by Hyundai, the largest Korean automaker. (It's probably more complicated than that, but the two companies certainly have a strong relationship.)
  • LIP PIERCING (56A: Vertical labret, for example) A labret is a LIP PIERCING that typically involves a puncture just below the bottom lip and inside the mouth, so that the jewelry is only visible below the lip. A vertical labret, in contrast, involves a puncture on the surface of the bottom lip, so that both ends of the jewelry are visible on the lip.
  • AREA (64A: Length x width, for a rectangle) Suppose I show you a rectangle that is 10 cm long in the horizontal dimension and 4 cm long in the vertical dimension. Would you say the rectangle's length is 10 cm, or would you say its width is 10 cm? If I remember correctly from grade school geometry, there's a technical definition for "length" that disambiguates these two options. But I hardly think about that nowadays... I wonder which option would be more popular if we put it to a vote!
  • STARR (6D: "The Hate U Give" heroine ___ Carter) I thought this book and its film adaptation were very powerful. If you're taking recommendations, they're both on my must-experience lists.
  • UMP (25D: World Series official) The term "umpire" is common to the sports of baseball and cricket, but the shortened form "UMP" is only heard in baseball. 
  • EGO (26D: Freudian concept) Before I knew anything about Sigmund Freud's concepts of id, EGO, and super-ego, I encountered these terms while playing BIT.TRIP VOID, an arcade-style rhythm game with a grooving electronic soundtrack and three increasingly difficult levels titled "ID," "EGO," and "SUPER-EGO."
  • PINK (36D: Color on the trans flag) The most widely used trans flag (with blue, white, and PINK stripes) was created by Monica Helms in 1999. It was first publicly flown at a Phoenix, Arizona pride parade in 2000.
  • MAR (50D: Irish American Heritage Mo.) In retrospect, I can see why this makes sense (and how one might deduce this answer without knowing it outright): the month of March was chosen to coincide with Saint Patrick's Day.

Geography review:

  • OSLO (8A: Capital city with a Sami House) The Sámi have inhabited the Fennoscandian peninsula (the land that now makes up the countries of Finland, Norway, and Sweden) for around 3,500 years. The Sámi House in OSLO, Norway is a central meeting place for all Sámi people who live in the OSLO region. The Sámi House's goals are "to promote and protect the Sámi culture, languages and identity by hosting cultural events and meetings as well as holding language courses."
  • LAS (54A: Article before "Vegas" or "Palmas") LAS Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada. LAS Palmas is the most populous city of the Canary Islands, an autonomous community of Spain located 62 miles west of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean. The shortest commercial aviation itinerary I could find between the two cities was via Amsterdam. Add a stopover in San Francisco and you could visit LAS Piñas in the Philippines on the same trip!
  • STL (62D: Missouri city, for short) Having lived in St. Louis for five years now, it's become natural for me to call the city home. I almost never hear folks here say the letters "S-T-L" out loud, but it's a ubiquitous written abbreviation on baseball and hockey scoreboards, airplane boarding passes, and text messages. (Yesterday's guest blogger, Matthew Stock, is one of my STL puzzle pals. Look out for another one in tomorrow's blog post!)

Guest blogger Sid here, back to say hello! ... and of course, to cover today's puzzle by Priyanka and Brooke, two constructors whose work I greatly admire. Inner peace may be something we seek in life, but in this puzzle we're looking for INNER P'S — I enjoyed uncovering them in this breezy grid. I really like when four theme answers are spread out in a "pinwheel" pattern like in today's puzzle — I feel like it lets the theme breathe into every corner of the grid, while leaving enough room for fun stuff like MASCARA and SNIPPET. Brooke was kind enough to send me an advance copy of this puzzle, so this was a great start to my weekend, and a lovely thing to write about leading into Monday. And thanks, as always, to Sally for letting me fill in! 


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