May 11, 2022


Constructor: Will Nediger

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
MARSAI MARTIN (19A: Producer who was the first cover star of Essence's Girls United)
MACARONI PENGUIN (37A: Antarctic creature with a pasta in it's name)
MARLEE MATLIN (53A: Actress in "Children of a Lesser God" and "CODA")

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer begins with MA- and ends with -IN, thus being located within a MAINFRAME, or a MAIN FRAME.

Things I learned:
  • ASS (27A: "Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your ___") Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your ASS is a 2013 young adult book by Meg Medina. The novel deals with issues of bullying, racial tensions, and questions of identity. The book won the Pura Belpré Award in 2014, an honor given to a Latino or Latina author of literature for children or youth whose work best portrays Latino culture. I thought this was a great way to clue the word ASS.
  • ALAMO (34A: "Forget the ___: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth") Forget the ALAMO: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth is a history book by three Texan authors, Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford. As the name of the book suggests, its authors set out to uncover what really happened at the ALAMO, and also discuss why the myth of the ALAMO has been promoted in Texas. Here's an NPR interview with Bryan Burrough that provides more information about the book. I had a funny interaction with this answer. From crossing answers, I had the middle of the word _LAM_, and I thought, "Well, it's either BLAME or LLAMA." Turns out my brain was not on the right track, but I think Forget the Llama would be a fun title for a children's book.
  • ANNA (34D: "Friction" author Tsing) ANNA Tsing is an anthropologist, and a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her 2004 book, Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection reframes global and cultural differences as "friction."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • MARSAI MARTIN (19A: Producer who was the first cover star of Essence's Girls United) Girls United is a digital magazine produced by Essence, and as the clue informs us, MARSAI MARTIN was the subject of its first cover story. We have seen MARSAI MARTIN as a theme answer before, on September 19, 2021, and at that time I learned she is the youngest person to have produced a movie, having produced the 2019 film, Little
  • MACARONI PENGUIN (37A: Antarctic creature with a pasta in its name) This is a delightful clue.  The MACARONI PENGUIN is a crested PENGUIN found in the Subantarctic and on the Antarctic Peninsula. The MACARONI PENGUIN was named for its orange plume feathers.
  • STAG (43A: ___ beetle (insect with antler like mandibles)) A male STAG beetle's jaw resembles antlers. The oversized mandibles are used in courtship displays, and wrestling with other males. 
  • MARLEE MATLIN (53A: Actress in "Children of a Lesser God" and "CODA") The 1986 movie, Children of a Lesser God, was MARLEE MATLIN's film debut, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Her most recent film appearance was in the 2021 movie, CODA, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Cast in a Drama Series. 
  • TONYS (64A: Awards for Chita Rivera) Chita Rivera has won two TONYS for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical: in 1983 for Merlin, and in 1993 for Kiss of the Spider Woman. In 2018, Chita Rivera was presented with a Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Tony Award.
  • SEND (66A: Transmit) and COMMS (1D: Transmissions, for short) It's fun that SEND and COMMS appear in opposite corners of the grid, yet their related clues appear consecutively if you read through the Across clues and then proceed to the Down clues.
  • PRIUS (14D: Toyota hybrid) This was an easy one for me, as we have a 10-year-old Toyota PRIUS C that has over 160,000 miles on it. Hopefully our PRIUS has a lot of life left!
  • ONEIDA (35D: People of the Standing Stone) The ONEIDA people refer to themselves as Onyota'a:ka, which means "People of the Standing Stone."

    Geography review:

    • BOTSWANA (4D: Country where Bessie Head's "When Rain Clouds Gather" is set) BOTSWANA is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It is located north of the country of South Africa. The capital of BOTSWANA is Gaborone. As the clue informs us, BOTSWANA is the setting for Bessie Head's 1968 novel, When Rain Clouds Gather. BOTSWANA is also the setting for two of Bessie Head's other novels: Maru (1971) and A Question of Power (1973). These three novels are autobiographical and were written while Bessie Head, who was born in South Africa, was living in exile in South Africa. Bessie Head and her novels were new to me, and I enjoyed learning more about her interesting life. If you'd like to learn more about Bessie Head, this BlackPast article gives an overview of her life. One interesting (to me) thing I learned about Bessie Head was that she spent time in Iowa City (13 years before I moved here, however), as in 1977 she attended the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Bessie Head died of hepatitis in 1986 at the age of 48.
    The title of this puzzle let me know just what to look for, and I enjoyed discovering the three great theme answers that had a MAINFRAME. It's fun to note that MARSAI MARTIN and MARLEE MATLIN's last names are also MAINFRAMEs - sort of a nested MAINFRAME. In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I liked GAMIFY, BUMPY, and TRY ME. Another thing I enjoyed about today's puzzle was the number of books highlighted in the clues. Thanks, Will, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to begin my Wednesday.