June 27, 2022

Title: NAME NAMES

Constructor: Will Nediger

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
ANA MENDIETA (16A: "Silueta Series" artist) 
SELINA MEYER (33A: Title character of "Veep")
IDINA MENZEL (52A: Voice of Elsa in "Frozen")

Theme synopsis: The theme answers are NAMES that contain the word NAME.

Things I learned:
  • ANA MENDIETA (16A: "Silueta Series" artist) ANA MENDIETA (1948-1985) was a conceptual and performance artist particularly known for her "earth-body" work - a term she used to describe her Silueta Series. Between 1973 and 1980, ANA MENDIETA captured images of her body or the imprint of its silhouette at various locations in Iowa and Cuba. The art used natural materials including clay, mud, flowers, moss, and twigs. ANA MENDIETA was born in Havana, Cuba. She and her sister came to the United States without their parents in 1961 (ANA was 12 and her sister was 15) as part of Operation Peter Pan. ANA MENDIETA and her sister ended up in Iowa, and she later attended the University of Iowa. Tragically, ANA MENDIETA died at the age of 36, after falling to her death from the window of her New York City apartment. (Her husband was tried for second degree murder and acquitted due to lack of evidence.) As you can probably tell, I spent a bit of time learning about ANA MENDIETA this morning, and am fascinated by her life and art. If you'd like to learn more, here's an article I found titled, "This Artwork Changed My Life: ANA MENDIETA's 'Silueta' Series."
  • SPEECH (12D: Maria W. Stewart's "Why Sit Ye Here and Die?" was one) Maria W. Stewart (1803-1879) was a public speaker, teacher, abolitionist, and women's rights activist. "Why Sit Ye Here and Die?" was a SPEECH she delivered in 1832 to the New England Anti-Slavery Society. In the speech, she demanded equal rights for Black women, and condemned the attitude that denied Black women education. 
  • PLAY-IN (25D: Qualifying game) The term PLAY-IN is new to me. (It's a sports thing...) I initially had "prelim."
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • BERET (13A: Panthers cap) The Panthers here are the Black Panthers, rather than the big cats or Florida's NHL team.
  • SELINA MEYER (33A: Title character of "Veep") On the TV series, Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays the role of SELINA MEYER. At the beginning of the show, SELINA MEYER is the titular Veep, the Vice President of the United States. 
  • IDINA MENZEL (52A: Voice of Elsa in "Frozen") IDINA MENZEL voiced the role of Elsa in both Frozen and Frozen II. Hers is the voice singing "Let It Go." She also originated the role of Elphaba in the Broadway musical, Wicked, and played Cinderella's stepmother in the 2021 jukebox musical movie, Cinderella. This is the only one of the theme answers I was able to immediately fill in without the assistance of crossing answers. I'm a fan of IDINA MENZEL, and always enjoy her presence in my puzzles. 
  • LEMUR (3D: Mammal from Madagascar) Recognizable by their large eyes, pointed snout, and long tail, LEMURs are endemic to Madagascar, an island country in the Indian Ocean. I liked this clue, because the 2005 animated movie, Madagascar, also featured LEMURs.
  • ICE CREAM (29A: Middle of some frozen sandwiches) and PIZZAS (40D: Pies that aren't for dessert) I was delighted to see PIZZAS and ICE CREAM sharing space in the same crossword. In our family, PIZZA and ICE CREAM is our go-to celebratory meal for any number of occasions. In fact, my husband and I served PIZZA and ICE CREAM at our rehearsal dinner when we got married. I could argue with the clue for PIZZAS, since there are certainly dessert PIZZAS (I make a mean fruit PIZZA). However, as 99.9% of PIZZAS aren't for dessert (a statistic I completely made up...), we'll just SIDESTEP (33D: Avoid dealing with) that pedantic and ridiculous nit.

    Geography review:

    • OIL-RICH (28A: Like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia) Venezuela is a country along the north coast of South America. Saudi Arabia is a country in West Asia located on the Arabian Peninsula. One thing the two countries have in common is that they are OIL-RICH. Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves, and Saudi Arabia is second on that list
    • GENEVA (1D: Swiss city on a lake) GENEVA is the second largest city in Switzerland. (Switzerland's capital, Z├╝rich, its largest city.) GENEVA is located at the south-western end of Lake GENEVA.
    Let's start off this week and NAME NAMES, shall we? I enjoyed this theme and all of the theme answers. Shoutout to a couple of clues I especially liked: RESUME (19A: "Can you explain this gap in you ___?") and CHEETO (7D: ___ dust (orange snack residue). Thank you, Will, for this puzzle that was a great way to start my Monday.

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